News

Leaside businessmen targeted by online extortionist

Patrick Rocca, Andy Elder both undaunted by close-to-home threats

BRIAN BAKER/STREETER
CLOSE TO HOME: Realtor Patrick Rocca is one of two Leaside businesspeople whose families have been targeted by an online extortion attempt.

Two Leaside businessmen, who received emails from an unknown person identifying with the hacker organization Anonymous, suspect they’ve been targeted for extortion by someone from the community.

Realtor Patrick Rocca and meat shop owner Andy Elder each received emails demanding they pay US$250,000 in bitcoin or information that would ruin their reputations, as well as their children’s, would be distributed to the neighbourhood.

“They were hiding behind the emails, saying if I didn’t give such-and-such amount by the such-and-such date they would go after my son and destroy him,” Rocca told Streeter in mid-November. “What I did to protect myself before the first deadline is, I sent out an email telling everyone I have been hacked and if you see a different email it’s not from me.”

That’s when Elder, owner of Grill Time Gourmet Meat Shop, made the connection that both he and Rocca were victims of the same individual.

“It’s not Anonymous. It’s basically some loser, whether they’re sitting in their basement or at a Starbucks.”

The biggest concern for the two men is not the threat against them, but against their children. Rocca’s son and Elder’s daughter were mentioned in the emails. Both children are in university.

“People have taken shots at me, whether it’s through jealousy or whatnot and it comes with the territory, but when you bring my family into it, it’s a whole different element,” Rocca said.

“I’m a big guy, I can handle myself, but don’t bring my children into this,” Elder added.

Though Toronto Police Services couldn’t go into specifics, spokesperson Constable Caroline de Kloet confirmed the case is under investigation.

“If anybody experiences this, or is a victim of such a crime, they are asked to contact police immediately and an investigation will occur.”

The deadline given for the payment is Nov. 30, but both men said they are not giving in to the demands.

“We’re sort of taking the F-you attitude with this,” Elder said. “There is no money and there will not be any money.”

“At the end of the day, Andy and I are pretty clear and united in what we’re trying to achieve,” Rocca said. “It’s one thing to attack us as individuals … but when you bring our families into it, that’s criminal.”

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