Extortionist targets Leaside realtor
Threatening emails to realtor Patrick Rocca demand $250,000
Leaside resident and realtor Patrick Rocca said he has received multiple emails threatening to ruin his reputation and that of his family, unless he hands over $250,000. The person responsible claims to belong to the international hacker group Anonymous.
Rocca said he has received five emails since Oct. 4, with the most recent sent Nov. 13.
“The gist of it was: the person doesn’t like me, they’re tired of my cowboy attitude and my ads all over the area, they’ve created a website, and if I don’t pay them x amount of dollars they’re going to ruin my career and send out flyers,” said Rocca.
Rocca said they asked for US$250,000 by bitcoin (a way of transferring international currency anonymously).
“This was not a scam. This was clearly a threat because it was personal. They mentioned my wife, my daughter and my son by name,” he said.
Three websites meant to besmirch Rocca and his son, who is currently attending university, have already been created, and the Toronto Police Service (TPS) is investigating.
“The first [website] basically said I was a crook and a thief, and I was a cocaine addict. It was drivel.… It was all fabrication. There was no substance,” he said.
Constable Jenifferjit Sidhu, spokesperson for TPS, said the Tech-Crime Section of TPS’s Intelligence Division has been successful in taking one of the websites down but has not been able to identify the individual responsible.
“It is difficult to determine who or where [the websites] originate from when it comes to Internet crime of this nature,” said Sidhu.
Given the level of detail and personal information included in the emails, Rocca believes the person is a member of the local community.
“It’s obvious the connection is Leaside.… There’s no doubt. There’s blatant hints in a lot of emails that it’s a local individual,” he said.
Rocca said the person responsible also made claims that he or she had hacked into his database through his agency’s website. Although a security scan determined that was not the case, Rocca sent out thousands of emails to everyone on his database through Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage, alerting them to the situation.
“When you bring the family into it, that crosses a line. This is criminal, it’s harassment, it’s extortion, and this individual, when and if they’re caught, will go to jail,” he said.