By April of those coins had been consolidated at a single address, where they largely sat dormant until this week. Even then, it was unclear whether Ulbricht had simply been moving some cryptocurrency around. Later that year, though, coins moved from the address to the now defunct bitcoin exchange BTC-e. By then, Ross Ulbricht was in jail. Even if it the money was his, he wouldn't have had access to the keys necessary to move it.
The government's forfeiture complaint offers an answer to that mystery: The address the coins had been moved to in belonged not to Ulbricht but to a hacker who had stolen them. With the help of blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, IRS investigators found 54 transactions moving 70,plus bitcoins from Silk Road addresses—transactions that Elliptic says occurred in —to the two other addresses Elliptic had flagged on Tuesday.
The transactions were for round amounts of currency, and none appeared in the Silk Road's own logs as purchases or vendor withdrawals, suggesting that they were likely the work of Individual X transferring stolen loot.
The complaint doesn't explain how the Silk Road breach occurred or where investigators learned of those threats, but both may have been documented on Ulbricht's seized laptop or on the Silk Road's seized server. Individual X seems to have ignored Ulbricht's threats and held onto the coins long after Ulbricht was arrested, tried, and convicted, quietly watching them explode in value in the years since.
It's far from clear how the IRS tracked down the hacker, why the investigation took more than seven years, or exactly what legal means the IRS used to persuade Individual X to turn over the money. Elliptic cofounder Tom Robinson speculates that the transfer of bitcoin to BTC-e may have helped: BTC-e's operators were indicted in , and the business was seized, perhaps offering account information that put the IRS onto Individual-X's trail.
The billion-dollar cryptocurrency seizure, Robinson argues, may be a sign of things to come. The potential to seize figure funds provides an enormous incentive for law enforcement to invest time and money in tracking down the owners of illicit cryptocurrency stashes. Individual X, on the other hand, was a more disciplined investor. Goods and services on Silk Road were paid for using bitcoin. Where did the money go?
The investigation found more than 50 previously undetected transactions. Those transactions were then traced to a hacker, whose identity, while known to authorities, hasn't been publicly disclosed. Authorities said the hacker stole 69, bitcoins from Silk Road between and Justice Department officials took custody of those bitcoins Wednesday in what they are calling the "largest seizure of cryptocurrency in the history.
Ulbricht discovered the hacker's online identity and threatened the individual to return the digital money, court documents show. But the hacker kept the cryptocurrency in a digital wallet without spending it, which is why the bitcoins went unnoticed for so long.
Biden defends price of relief plan. Sluggish recovery: US economy adds 49, jobs in January. The bitcoins once belonged to Silk Road's founder, Ross Ulbricht, who was sentenced to life in prison in Bitcoins were the only currency allowed on Silk Road, which authorities say was used for criminal transactions including the sale of drugs and guns as well as money laundering. He was found guilty in February on a variety of charges including money laundering, drug trafficking and computer hacking.
Where did the money go? Today's forfeiture complaint answers this open question at least in part. Read More. The filing said the seized bitcoins were stolen from Silk Road in by a hacker identified only as "Individual X" in the court document. The filing said Ulbricht became aware of Individual X's online identity and threatened Individual X, demanding the return of the cryptocurrency soon after the money was stolen. Individual X did not return the cryptocurrency but kept it and did not spend it.
Individual X consented to the funds' forfeiture on Tuesday, according to the filing. They supposedly run an automated refund system for their vendors that relies on the TXID to verify transactions. Their claim is that six vendors colluded to exploit that system by ordering from one another and then submitting circular refund requests. Defcon is calling on the hackers to return the bitcoin.
Defcon, for his part, is calling for further decentralization of online markets and currency. Expect any centralized market to fail at some point. Used the following six vendor accounts to order from each other, to find and exploit the vulnerability aggressively. Usernames used: narco93 ketama riccola germancoke napolicoke smokinglife.
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