US federal officials have taken custody of more than $1 billion in stolen Bitcoin (BTC) associated with the defunct darknet website Silk Road. As per the U.S Department of Justice, the Silk Road facilitated various types of illegitimate activities, as well as the sale of illicit drugs and hacking.
The site’s founder, Ross Ulbricht was taken into custody in San Francisco, 2013, and sentenced to serve two life sentences in 2015 by the federal jury of New York for computer hacking, money laundering, and unlawfully trafficking narcotics. The Silk Road was taken down by the FBI in 2013.
Bitcoin: The Silk Road Currency
Bitcoin was used to pay for commodities and services on Silk Road. According to court documents, Silk Road at its peak produced greater than $9.5 million in sales, and Ross Ulbricht accrued greater than 600,000 worth of Bitcoins in brokerage. Drugs purchased from the site killed at least six people due to drug overdose.
Since Bitcoins can’t be contained in banks, it becomes challenging to trace these coins. It’s why cryptocurrencies have received their share of controversies relating to unlawful activities.
U.S. Attorney, David Anderson on Thursday, stated:
“Silk Road was the most notorious online criminal marketplace of its day.” He further said, “The successful prosecution of Silk Road’s founder in 2015 left open a billion-dollar question. Where did the money go? $1 billion of these criminal proceeds are now in the United States’ possession.”
The U.S Department of Justice didn’t respond to requests for remarks immediately.
50 unexposed transactions detected
Investigators from the Internal Revenue Service and the US Department of Justice worked together to trace transactions concerned with Bitcoin on the Silk Road. On investigation, more than 50 previously unexposed transactions were discovered.
Further, these transactions were then tracked to a hacker, whose name hasn’t been revealed to the public, but it is known to the administrations. According to the authorities, between 2012 and 2013, the hacker looted 69,000 Bitcoins from Silk Road. According to the executives from the Justice Department, they seized the Bitcoins on Wednesday and are terming it the “largest seizure of cryptocurrency in history.”
A special agent with the IRS, Kelly Jackson, stated “criminal proceeds should not remain in the hands of the thieves.”
As per court documents, the founder of Silk Road had detected the hacker’s online identity and intimidated the person to pay back the money. However, the hacker retained the stolen bitcoins and didn’t use them. As a result, the cryptocurrency went undetected for such a long period of time.
When Ross Ulbricht was convicted seven years ago, the stolen Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that were taken into custody by the government executives were sold at an auction in 2014 and 2015. With this week’s seizure, it is still unsure when the U.S Department of Justice will do the same.