FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Jean Barwick knew it wasn't a normal package left on the doorstep of the Williamson County Republican Party headquarters late last week. The envelope, containing a letter and mysterious thumb drive, seemed like a joke.
"I picked it up and opened it," the party's Executive Director said. "It said 'For Rep Leaders.' Leaders was spelled incorrectly and it was hand written with a magic marker."
That same message is now viral.
An anonymous group is taking credit for breaking into a Cool Springs office building and sneaking into PricewaterhouseCoopers offices where they were able to gain access to, "network file servers and copy over the tax documents for one Willard M Romney and Ann D Romney."
The group claims they got access to the 3rd floor of the office building on Saturday, August 25 via an employee. They claim their team hid in an empty room before sneaking into the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers during the night.
The group wants the million dollars converted to "Bitcoins," an online currency. They said if someone doesn't pay them by September 28 they will release Romney's returns to major media outlets.
Williamson County Democrats got the same warning and thumb drive dropped through their mail slot last Thursday.
"I was so unimpressed by it that I almost threw it away," said Democratic Chairman Peter Burr who thought it was a scam until Secret Service agents showed interest Wednesday.
Burr said while he may be interested in Romney's financial background, he doesn't want to see it like this.
"We have no more right than anyone else to obtain information like that through inappropriate channels," he said.
PWC released the following statement:
"We are aware of the allegations that have been made regarding improper access to our systems. We are working closely with the United States Secret Service, and at this time there is no evidence that our systems have been compromised or that there was any unauthorized access to the data in question."
Local leaders from both parties hope this doesn't become a distraction.
"You just don't know what motivates people to do things like that. It could be a total hoax or it could be serious," Barwick went on to say.
Both Barwick and Burr said they did not try to open the thumb drives the group claims contained Romney's tax records they claim date prior to 2010. The Romney campaign has so far only released the candidates 2011 and 2010 returns.
Wednesday a Washington, D.C.-based Secret Service agent confirmed the agency is investigating the case. Franklin Police said they haven't responded to any burglaries at the Crescent Centre Drive office building location, but did notify the Secret Service of Barwick's claims Wednesday morning.