Earlier this week, an anonymous 4chan user published two documents to the /pol/ board that alleged that French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron had an offshore bank account based out of the island of Nevis in the Caribbean. Island officials deny any such shell company existing in their records, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The documents spread in right-wing circles and even made their way to Macron’s election opponent, Marine Le Pen, who alluded to the bank account in Wednesday night’s debate.
The documents were also written about on the Russian-owned news site RT and on Sputnik.
Police with France’s Ministry of the Interior are now attempting to track down the 4chan user who originally published the documents. On Thursday, a French police officer reached out to the owner of the site on which the document files were hosted, mixtape.moe, over email and asked for data logs and information that could lead to the offender. The documents are hosted here and here.
Mixtape.moe is more commonly used as a hosting site for soccer .gifs and video game-inspired pornography, but apparently this time it was used to nefariously try to undermine the results of the French election.
In the email to mixtape.moe’s owner Drybones, French police officer Claire Allegre said she was in charge of a case based out of a high court in Paris for “forgery, use of a forged document and diffusion of fake news which can disturb an election.”
Drybones responded to the email and said mixtape.moe does not save data logs from anonymous uploads. Drybones told Heat Street this is the first time police of any country have ever asked him to turn over records.
Allegre did not return a request for comment.
This could be the most serious prosecutable crime committed by an Internet troll since a Maryland troll allegedly gave journalist Kurt Eichenwald a seizure by tweeting an strobe light .gif at him in December.
The police investigation is a small part of a larger probe by French prosecutors into the dissemination of fake news that targets Macron. The presidential candidate has even filed a legal complaint against Le Pen for defamation because she mentioned the non-existent offshore bank account in the debate.
The runoff election between Macron and Le Pen will be held May 7.