For the second time since 2017 Leaside-based real estate broker Patrick Rocca says he is the victim of harassment and attempted extortion.
Over the last couple months, Rocca said he has received “dozens” of emails, texts and social media messages from an unknown person or group, encouraging him to pay up to $500,000 worth of Bitcoin or face violence.
“Wanting money. If I do not pay the money, there’s death threats. Dismemberment … They’ll ruin my son’s career, they’ll ruin my career.”
Rocca said the extortionists have already attempted the latter, setting up multiple websites and social media accounts slandering him and his family. He and a team of digital consultants he is working with have managed to get some, but not all of the sites and accounts taken down.
In an email, a Hells Angels representative who spoke to Global News on condition of anonymity insisted:
“We have internal rules against use of club name, logos, etc. in order to profit from all endeavours … The police know well our rules. If they thought for one second we were involved … they would be all over us like a dog on a bone.”
It’s not the first time Rocca has dealt with these types of threats, either.
In 2017, Global News brought you the story of Rocca and another Leaside businessman receiving similar messages from someone claiming to be a hacker affiliated with the group “Anonymous.”
Those messages also demanded payment to avoid damage to their reputations and also resulted in the creation of fake websites; but they never threatened violence.
Rocca is a popular broker in the area; his face is on several ads and billboards in and around Leaside. But, he admitted that sometimes enemies are made in his line of work.
“Do we have some people in mind who we think it could be? Yes we do. Is the person unstable? I think there’s some instability with this person,” he insisted.
Just like last time, Rocca said he doesn’t believe the threats are credible.
Several deadlines have passed and he hasn’t paid a cent.
Shortly after his interview with Global News Friday, Rocca said he received another email from someone identifying themselves as “Vladimir,” urging him to pay up by March 5; another deadline he plans to ignore.
Rocca does however worry about the impact this will have on his family.
“I’m not giving you ten bucks, let alone half a million,” he told the extortionist.
“The big question is ‘why?’ I get it if you have a problem with me, but don’t bring my family into it.”
Toronto police are investigating and said Rocca has done the right thing by notifying them and not responding to any of the messages.