Tag Archives | Silk Road

Ross Ulbricht, Mastermind Behind Silk Road, Sentenced to Life in Prison

Don’t you think a life sentence is a bit excessive? I’ll buy that Ross Ulbricht was the person behind Silk Road and that the online bazaar functioned as a convenient way to buy and sell illegal drugs and other contraband, but does the punishment really fit the crime? The Washington Post reports:

A federal judge sentenced the mastermind behind online drug marketplace Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, to life in prison Friday.

Ulbricht Passport

“Make no mistake: Ulbricht was a drug dealer and criminal profiteer who exploited people’s addictions and contributed to the deaths of at least six young people,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.  “Ulbricht went from hiding his cybercrime identity to becoming the face of cybercrime and as today’s sentence proves, no one is above the law.”

Ulbricht was convicted on seven counts, including conspiracy and money laundering, in February for operating an online bazaar where users bought drugs and other illegal goods.

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The Untold Story of Silk Road

You might think you already know the basics of the Silk Road dark web bazaar, but Wired promises a (very long) story you don’t know:

“I imagine that someday I may have a story written about my life and it would be good to have a detailed account of it.”—home/frosty/documents/journal/2012/q1/january/week1

THE POSTMAN ONLY rang once. Curtis Green was at home, greeting the morning with 64 ounces of Coca-Cola and powdered mini doughnuts. Fingers frosted synthetic white, he was startled to hear someone at the door. It was 11 am, and surprise visits were uncommon at his modest house in Spanish Fork, Utah, a high-desert hamlet in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains. Green ambled over, adjusting his camouflage fanny pack. At 47 his body was already failing him: He was overweight, with four herniated discs, a bum knee, and gleaming white dental implants. To get around he sometimes borrowed his wife’s pink cane.

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DEA Agents Investigating Silk Road Embezzled Bitcoin

Cops pilfering criminals’ loot isn’t exactly new, but perhaps it is when the bounty is Bitcoin. From the Guardian:

“French Maid” wasn’t Carl Force’s officially sanctioned darknet alias.

Bitcoin logo.svg

In his capacity as an undercover Drug Enforcement Agency agent, and a senior member of the team investigating the deep-web drug market Silk Road and its owner, Force used the alias “Nob”.

Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road known then as “Dread Pirate Roberts”, believed Nob to be a drug smuggler operating in the US with criminal underworld connections.

But Force also created “French Maid” and “Death from Above” – separate aliases not sanctioned by his bosses which he used to extort from Ulbricht hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of bitcoin, according to a complaint filed in a US district court in California.

In 2013, after a two-year investigation, the FBI arrested Ulbricht. In February 2015 he was found guilty on charges of money laundering, conspiracy to traffic drugs and attempted purchase of a murder-for-hire.

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New Tor Drug Kingpin In Town

Silk_Road_Marketplace_Item_Screen

Via Wired:

In the digital drug trade as in the physical one, taking out one kingpin only makes room for another ready to satisfy the market’s endless demand. In the case of the FBI’s takedown of the Silk Road, the latest of the up-and-coming drug kingpins is far more evolved than its predecessor—and far less principled.

Since it launched early this year, the anonymous black market bazaar Evolution has grown dramatically, nearly tripling its sales listings in just the last five months. It now offers more than 15,000 mostly illegal products ranging from weapons to weed, cocaine, and heroin. That’s thousands more than the Silk Road ever hosted. And Evolution’s popularity has been driven not only by a more secure and professional operation than its competitors, but also by a more amoral approach to the cryptomarket than the strict libertarian ethos the Silk Road preached. Case in point: About 10 percent of Evolution’s products are stolen credit card numbers and credentials for hacked online accounts.

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‘DarkMarket’ Prototype Promises To Be Beyond Fed’s Grasp

PIC: John Sullivan (PD)

PIC: John Sullivan (PD)

Law enforcement’s take-down of Silk Road has done nothing but inspire the next generation of internet savvy black marketeers.

Via WIRED:

At a Toronto Bitcoin hackathon earlier this month, the group took home the $20,000 first prize with a proof-of-concept for a new online marketplace known as DarkMarket, a fully peer-to-peer system with no central authority for the feds to attack. If DarkMarket’s distributed architecture works, law enforcement would be forced to go after every contraband buyer and seller one by one, a notion that could signal a new round in the cat-and-mouse game of illicit online sales.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” said Amir Taaki, one of DarkMarket’s creators and the founder of the anarchist group Unsystem, in a short speech at the Toronto Bitcoin Expo unveiling the project. He compared DarkMarket’s improvements on the now-defunct Silk Road to the advent of Bittorrent, a decentralized technology that revamped Napster’s more vulnerable model of filesharing and flummoxed copyright enforcers.

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Rebuilding the Silk Road

Flickr/CC.

Recently, Kofi Annan, former  secretary general of the United Nations, has said that the “repressive approaches to containing drugs have failed.”

And this could not be more true as Brian Anderson writes on Motherboard about how the Silk Road will never be shut down, since the Dread Pirate Roberts has made it possible to upload the site anew in just “15 minutes.”

It only took a month for the Silk Road 2.0 to go live after the now infamous Silk Road marketplace shuttered. One month. Should the budding deep-web bazaar experience the same fate as its predecessor, and be knocked out by authorities still whack-a-moling their way through the online front of the war on drugs, the Silk Road 3.0 would be up and running in 15 minutes, tops.

That’s according to the Dread Pirate Roberts, the pseudonymous head of SR 2.0. In what are arguably his most breathy public remarks to date the “new” DPR, who either cribbed his handle from the DPR of SR 1.0 fame or who is indeed the original DPR, opened up to Mike Power on his long-term vision for the site.

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Feds Arrest Alleged Owner of Online Drug Marketplace Silk Road

Silk Road’s Ross William “Dread Pirate Roberts” Ulbricht has been arrested and all his Bitcoin booty has been seized. Ulbricht is accused of attempting to hire a hitman to murder a possible snitch, among other things. silkroadlogo

Via Time:

U.S. law enforcement officials have shut down down Silk Road, the online drug market, following a raid and an arrest of Ross William Ulbricht, the site’s alleged proprietor.

According to a Justice Department release, Ulbricht, 29, was arrested in San Francisco and will be presented in San Francisco federal court Wednesday morning. Until Wednesday, the person who ran the site was known only by the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts.”

In addition to arresting Ulbricht, the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized approximately $3.6 million in Bitcoin, making it the second biggest seizure in the digital currency’s history.

Federal prosecutors in New York charged Ulbricht with narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.

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Two Million Dollars a Month in Bitcoin Drug Sales

Photo: Satoshi (PD)

Via Ars Technica:

A recent Carnegie Mellon study sheds light on the Bitcoin-fueled economy of the internet’s underground drug bazaar Silk Road.

Silk Road is an online marketplace that uses Tor and Bitcoin to preserve the anonymity of all involved. The site itself is set up as a Tor hidden service, which makes it practically impossible to locate the site’s servers. And the use of Bitcoins prevents the authorities from identifying market participants by following the money.

Most of the items listed for sale are illegal drugs. To place an order, the buyer transmits the appropriate number of Bitcoins to the site operators, who hold the funds in escrow while the goods are shipped. Once the buyer confirms the product has arrived, the escrowed funds are released to the seller.

Christin began crawling Silk Road in November 2011. From February to July of this year, he attempted to crawl the site on a daily basis, yielding a wealth of data about activity on the site.

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Silk Road (The Website With Every Illegal Drug Imaginable For Sale) Is Hiring

Silk_Road_LogoAdrianne Jeffries notes that Silk Road is one hot startup, for BetaBeat:

No publicity is bad publicity: Silk Road, the illicit online marketplace that came to light after Gawker’s Adrian Chen announced you could buy any drug imaginable there with Bitcoins, has been booming after increased awareness due to a rash of alarmist press coverage.

Drugs! Anonymous currencies! Hackers! Our children! But gradually Silk Road, and to a lesser degree Bitcoin, faded from the stage, largely because most people couldn’t understand how to use them. Silk Road can only be accessed using the anonymous network Tor, and you should probably know a thing or two about encryption before you buy anything.

But as we learned via a few Bitcoining Betabeat readers, Silk Road is doing really well—well enough to expand its anonymous team. “Silk Road is currently hiring a database expert and a customer support team member,” writes one reader.

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