- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 5, 2020

The U.S. government has seized roughly a billion dollars in bitcoin and other cryptocurrency that was stolen years ago from the infamous Silk Road website, the Department of Justice said Thursday.

A complaint filed in San Francisco federal court says the Justice Department took control of the funds earlier this week after investigators discovered who stole them from Silk Road seven years earlier.

Silk Road served as an online marketplace for drugs and other contraband, and the Justice Department has determined it generated more than $9.5 million in sales revenue before it was shut down in 2013.

Buyers and sellers doing business on Silk Road used digital cryptocurrencies instead of dollars, and the site kept a share that was never recovered when it went kaput, according to the complaint.

Investigators determined a hacker breached Silk Road several months before it went offline and stole cryptocurrency under its control, U.S. Attorney David Anderson wrote in the filing.

Those nearly 70,000 bitcoins sat untouched in a digital wallet for several years prior to being moved earlier this week in a colossal transaction eventually claimed by the Justice Department.

Investigators found the hacker who stole the funds from Silk Road and had them sign a form Tuesday agreeing to forfeit the bitcoin to the U.S. government, Mr. Anderson wrote in the court filing.

“$1 billion of these criminal proceeds are now in the United States’ possession,” he said in a statement. The civil complaint essentially asks the court to agree they are subject to forfeiture.

Worth around $350,000 at the time they were taken from Silk Road, the approximate value of the bitcoin nearly tripled in the seven years since it was stolen and the site soon shuttered.

Silk Road launched in 2011 and was available on the so-called darknet for more than two years before a criminal investigation culminated in its seizure by the FBI in October 2013.

Federal prosecutors have previously secured criminal convictions against several individuals found guilty of charges related to running Silk Road or selling narcotics on the service.

Ross William Ulbricht, a California man convicted of charges related to running Silk Road, is currently serving life imprisonment as a result of being found guilty of all seven counts he faced.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide