Jul 27

Accused Man Selling Counterfeit Coupons On Silk Road Pleads Guilty

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

A Louisiana man by the name of Beau Wattigney, 30, is accused of orchestrating a counterfeit coupon business on the darknet and has already pleaded guilty to his charges. Beau, who currently resides in New Orleans, was arrested for masterminding the million-dollar scheme on the Silk Road by taking advantage of its anonymity. According to reports from the Justice Department, he has confessed to producing counterfeit coupons for more than 50 businesses with help from other co-conspirators.

Using two different screen names “MoxDiamond” and “GoldenLotus”, Wattigney designed his Silk Road coupons to look exactly like those produced by real manufacturers. He did this by adding trademarked logos of reputable voucher distributors such as SmartSource, RedPlum, Hopster and Coupons.com. Through his fraudulent activities, the man amassed an estimated $75,000 and allowed his customers to rip off companies such as Wal-Mart and Visa.

One of these fake coupons allowed people to buy $50 Visa Gift Cards for one cent only, while in another disclosed message to a customer he explains how to convert coupons and get $49.99 worth of items from Wal-Mart. He’s been charged of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and trademark counterfeiting. Likewise, federal agents have been publicly promoting this case as part of their broader crackdown on cybercrime networks such as the Silk Road.

While explaining how to redeem his coupons on Walmart, Wattigney told a Silk Road customer that it’s best to do so when a Self-Checkout attendant is walking around or engaged in helping other buyers. Beau says that he tried the trick before in numerous occasions and it worked out perfectly, in fact there’s a time he managed to redeem more than 10 coupons in one day.

His syndicate ran for a 12-month period, where he sold an estimated 2,000 sets of counterfeit vouchers for roughly $54.44 each. A statement from the government confirms that “MoxDiamond” was first charged in May 2015, but an official sentencing is set for October 28th. If redeemed, The Silk Road vouchers would have cost affected companies more than $1 million in losses.

Jul 25

Silk Road Vendor Who Testified At Ulbricht’s Trial, Sentenced To Two And A Half Yrs.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

A former vendor at the Silk Road who testified on Ross Ulbricht’s trial has been given a 2.5 yrs. sentence by the court. Michael Duch, also known by his pseudonym “Deezletime”, used to sell heroine on the site according to reports by Reuters.

Ross Ulbricht’s

Though he never interacted with Dread Pirate Roberts while dealing drugs on this site, his statement was still used by prosecution to prove that the Silk Road facilitated illicit activities. Duch admitted that he began selling heroin only to sustain his substance addiction cravings, which at its highest peak cost him around $200 to $300 a day. Despite the ruling, Michael may still get credit for the 21-month period he spent in jail before, meaning he could ultimately be released within a matter of months.

Duch’s attorney requested for an immediate release claiming that the drug dependency issue which led him to commit these crimes has now been left behind. However, Judge Forrest said she could only give him a respite on his sentencing but not to release him just yet. The 2.5 yrs. sentence is half the minimum 5-yr. term he could have received were it not for cooperating with the state, or even a possible 40 yrs. maximum imprisonment.

Immediately after his verdict was given, Deezletime made a heartfelt apology saying that his incarceration felt like “being slapped right on the face”. It led him through an excruciating yet necessary path towards recovery. Earlier on, Michael had taken the stand as witness on Ulbricht’s trial telling a packed court how the Silk Road made his peddling work a lot easier, since he didn’t have to sell drugs directly in the streets. He was attracted by the relative simplicity that this website promised, including the personal safety and anonymity.

Before he joined the Silk Road, Duch was a professional IT consultant making approximately $75,000 per year. But at the height of his unlawful business, he could get $60,000 to $70,000 a month. His method of acquiring supply was relatively easy; Michael bought drugs directly from street dealers and sold them at twice the price on Silk Road. His adverts promised clients “East Coast Design Heroin Stamps”, with quick shipment as a key selling point.

Jul 23

Dark Wallet Developer Show Up In Support Of Silk Road Creator

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

Dark Wallet founder, British-Iranian Amir Taaki, recently came out in support of the convicted Silkroad boss, Ross Ulbricht. In a recent video, he talked about his communication with the Silk Road’s Dread Pirate Roberts. He said that “Dread Pirate Roberts” was only involved in Silkroad operations at the beginning but later subjugated duties to other administrators who oversaw its daily operations. Due to these factors it’s quite possible that the man could be innocent.

Taaki calls the Silkroad kingpin a good guy who’s always honest and candid when dealing with people, this based on the several conversations they had while Ulbricht was still using his pseudo identity. Amir believes that there were other individuals who had access to his virtual account, hence faking Ross’ identity in the process. These unscrupulous Silkroad personnel behaved differently each time he tried to start a conversation with them, which clearly shows that there were more than one administrator who had access to the Silkroad man’s online identity.

In his video, Amir says that some years back when he messaged Ulbricht they had a pleasant conversation together, talking about how one day the two would be out there struggling for web freedom, and not having to hide their identities anymore. However, 2 yrs. later when he started another conversation with him the Silkroad man had changed and could not even recollect their previous chats. It was apparent that he wasn’t the same guy as before. The conversation tone was different, and his attitude towards Taaki was in sharp contrast to the enthusiastic and wordy friend of before. This is exactly the same thing that was mentioned by the Silkroad boss’ defense team during trial, that someone could not know who was chatting on the other side of the computer.

Moreover, in a previous interview of Dread Pirate Roberts conducted by Forbes, the then-current administrator disclosed that he didn’t start the Silkroad site but rather inherited control from the immediate predecessor. Though, Judge Katherine Forrest called the accused Silkroad creator “captain of the ship” and hand him more than 20 yrs. imprisonment.

Jul 20

Forfeiture Order Against Silk Road DEA Agent

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

Carl Mark Force IV, former DEA agent, has been ordered to return the stolen bitcoins by a U.S. district judge. A preliminary order to this effect has been signed by Judge Richard Seeborg, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, against Force who was a member of the task force team that investigated Silk Road, the infamous online drug black market founded by Ross Ulbricht. Force, who was arrested in the spring, pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges including money laundering, extortion and obstruction of justice. He would be sentenced in October this year.

The preliminary order signed by the judge mandates that Force must forfeit as much as 690 Bitcoins and other assets as listed below:

• $13,045 held by him in a BTC-e account in Bitcoins

• $109,741 held by him in a number of other private trading accounts

• $158,865 in lieu of his home in Baltimore

In addition, Seeborg approved a money judgment for $500,000 against Force.

Force and the Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges who investigated Silk Road between 2012 and 2014 were accused of selling information related to the investigation for financial gain. Subsequently, Force admitted that he sold information to Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind Silk Road, who was served with life imprisonment in May.

According to reports, Force, who had been a DEA agent for 15 years, offered to sell fake driving licenses and even devised plans to extort more money from the Silk Road founder by trading information under different identities. The former DEA agent also signed a movie deal worth $240,000 with 20th Century Fox without obtaining any approval from the department. The deal was for consultations on a film based on Silk Road story.

The announcement about the preliminary order against Force came in after the Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges, who was charged with stealing thousands of dollars in bitcoins during the investigation, and the federal prosecutors agreed on a plea deal.

In June, Bridges pleaded guilty to money laundering and obstruction of justice charges related to diverting more than $820,000 of bitcoins when investigating the Silk Road case. The theft led to Ulbricht hiring a hit on a fellow administrator at Silk Road who he thought was responsible for stealing the money. The former Secret Service agent will be sentenced in September.

Bridges and Force are not the first ones to be involved in corruption related to the War on Drugs. DEA agents raided Joseph Rivers’ life savings earlier this year. Rivers, an aspiring businessman and music executive in Detroit, took $16,000 in cash, the seed money required for starting a music company, and boarded a train. DEA agents stopped him at Amtrak station, Albuquerque, and searched his belongings. They could not find any evidence of drug on him, but they seized his cash and did not charge him with any crime.

It is the perceived feeling of anonymity offered by the virtual currency that obviously encouraged Force to invent online personas and send encrypted messages to fraudulently obtain thousands of dollars worth bitcoins not only from the person being investigated, but also the government. However, Leslie Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General, clarified in a statement regarding Bridges and Force that the Department of Justice would not tolerate corruption, online or otherwise, committed by law enforcement officers.

As such, the guilty plea by Force should send the message across that neither the use of virtual currency, the dark web’s anonymity nor the misuse of the law enforcement badge can shield anyone from the law.

Jul 16

Alleged Silk Road Admin Opposes Extradition To US

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

U.S. is seeking immediate extradition of Gary Davis (27) to the country for possible prosecution; the Irishman is believed to have been a top administrator at Silkroad when it was still functional. He’s wanted by American authorities to answer against charges of distributing narcotics, computer hacking and conspiracy for money laundering amongst other offenses. If found guilty of these Silkroad accusations, the man could receive a life-sentence ruling.

However, through his attorney John O’Kelly SC, Gary is opposing U.S.’s extradition application in High Court before Judge Paul McDermott. The lawyer claims that Davis is a “vulnerable” man who suffers from a rare strain of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome as well as depression. He’s therefore objecting the Silkroad Irishman’s transfer to America for detention on grounds of his poor mental health; the application raises concerns that imprisoning Gary in inhuman and degrading conditions within the US is a breach of his fundamental rights. The effects of such a long term incarceration can be “very serious”.

They also argue that, the formal Silkroad deportation request filed under the 1965 Constitutional Act for handing over alleged criminals between Ireland and America is flawed, vague and very unclear. According to Kelly, his client should have first been arraigned before an Irish court corresponding with the said charges, before authorities from other countries are even given the privilege to arrest him on similar grounds. However, up to now the DPP has not yet launched an investigation regarding the Silkroad saga, and therefore Davis has no business turning himself over to any foreign state for incarceration. Mr. Gary is accused of using the pseudonym “Libertas” in handling corrupt dealings on behalf of Silkroad.

Earlier on, Ireland’s Attorney General had argued that the jury should promptly make an order demanding the Silkroad operator to surrender himself over to America. He adds that all charges labeled against “Libertas” are clear and there’s no need for further investigations, since this can only be time consuming and costly. Moreover, some of the Silkroad offenses he’s facing had been committed in US territory given the borderless nature of the web.

Jul 14

A Letter From The Silk Road Creator

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

Ross Ulbricht, the 31 year old alleged mastermind of Silk Road, has made his first public statement, since he was sentenced to life in prison in May 2015. The handwritten letter from Ross Ulbricht was posted to the Free Ross website, which is dedicated to news about Ross Ulbricht’s case and fundraising for the legal costs.

The letter is addressed to the attendees of this year’s New Hampshire event known as PorcFest or The Porcupine Freedom Festival, a “free-state” festival that is focused on Libertarian ideals, cryptocurrencies and alternative viewpoints.

Ross Ulbricht expressed his disappointment about unable to attend the event, and he wrote about the impending struggles which will ensue in appealing the life sentence. Ulbricht concluded his letter requesting financial assistance so that he can be able to continue his fight against the “outright corruption” that is stemming from the U.S. government. He directly made reference to the 2 federal agents assigned to the Silk Road investigation and who stole large amounts of money from the Silk Road website and were later charged with wire fraud and money laundering after the start of Ross Ulbricht’s trial.

Ulbricht’s defense team has stated on severally that the legal consequences and alleged actions related to the federal agents, Shaun Bridges and Carl Force, were hidden from Ross Ulbricht’s defense until just prior to the start of the trial. It has been argued that the 2 compromised the whole investigation of the Silk Road and Ross Ulbricht’s trial.

The letter includes 2 edited and replaced phrases that were changed with Ulbricht’s permission “as per his attorneys’ guidance”. Lyn Ulbricht, the mother of Ross Ulbricht, is waging a campaign to clear her convicted son and attended last year’s PorcFest festival and gave a speech about Ulbricht’s case while he was awaiting trial. She also attended this year’s event to offer insight in light of the intriguing Deep Web about the Silkroad website and the aftermath of Ross Ulbricht’s trial and sentencing.

Jul 10

Mother Of Silk Road Creator Gives New Info About Her Son’s Case

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

Lyn UlbrichtLyn Ulbricht, the mother of convicted Silkroad kingpin Ross Ulbricht, known as “Dread Pirate Roberts”, is currently waging an intense campaign to get his son free from jail for charges she claims are false and only based on sensationalism and emotion. In an exclusive interview posted on YouTube for the world to see, Lyn says that she has new information about Ross’ Silkroad trial which sheds light on how the state conducts itself when investigating and prosecuting people.

Interviewed by Mr. Luke Rukowski, who is the founder of an organization seeking to expose corruption in higher places “WeAreChange.org”, Lyn Ulbricht claims that there are issues with how the Silkroad case was conducted that people need to know about. The information she’s giving is so crucial that at the beginning of the interview Rukowski describes it as “insane”.

She starts by claiming that the government issued a gag order to Reason magazine, when they published details on how people expressed shock with the sentencing of Ross. This is after authorities issued a grand jury subpoena to the administration, demanding them to release private information about Internet users who posted shocking messages about the Silkroad ruling.

Ulbricht also questions New York Senator Charles Schumer’s actions, after calling for the closure of Silkroad and then “strangely” ordering that his son’s Silkroad trial be conducted in New York rather than California where he was initially arrested. The legal prosecutor was Chuck Schumer’s own special counsel for years, and the Silkroad judge was also suggested by the senator himself.

She further notes that the Silkroad judge didn’t allow Ross to defend himself but instead muzzled witnesses, totally refusing to hear their side of the story. Cross examination should have been done on both sides instead of only focusing on the Silkroad founder, particularly given the fact that two corrupt cops were found guilty of stealing money from the Silkroad website. These agents had unwarranted access to the organization’s finances even before the final prosecution was made against Ross Ulbricht, something that is in total disregard of the law since everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Lyn further states that the U.S. government acted in contempt of the court, by allowing their agents to pilferage Silkroad accounts even though Ross had not yet been convicted but only arraigned in court.

According to her own words, the corrupt agents “…had full access to the Silkroad site for almost a year” before trial, therefore trusting evidence solicited from a server which was already tampered with was not fair for the victim. This Silkroad case was overrun by hard feelings and even though she feels terrible “for those parents of people who died from using those drugs”, the courtroom should have relied more on facts and evidence than sentiments.

Ulbricht alleges that they hired a professional forensic pathologist to study the alleged deaths, and after several months of research he concluded that there’s no scientific evidence proving that the victims died from consuming Silkroad drugs, or any other illegal substance for that matter. Moreover, the government relying on digital evidence which could have easily been forged is setting a “very troubling precedent” for future convictions.

Jul 07

Silk Road 3.0 – Continuing The Legacy

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

theres-already-a-silk-road-30.jpgWhen Silk Road 3.0 was launched in November of last year, it was met with a lot of skepticism. People did have enough reason to be wary. Its predecessor, Silkroad 2.0, was shuttered down and its alleged operator, Blake Benthall, was arrested. This happened even when the admins promised to undertake more precautionary measures in their running of the site.

Yet as things go on the Internet, when you shut one site down, a dozen similar ones pop up soon after. There are several darknet marketplaces that enjoyed a surge of traffic after Silkroad shut down, but none have truly replicated the success that the original one had.

ross-william-ulbricht-abc-ubj 304Enter Silkroad 3.0. Originally Diabolus Market, the site was renamed as the Silk Road 3.0 in order to capitalize on the Silkroad name which was enjoying huge media traction since Ross Ulbricht’s arrest.

Its launch was marred with doubts – was it just a honeypot setup by the FBI? But more than half a year later, these doubts seem to have vanished. Silkroad 3.0 is still in existence, with more than 100,000 users buying and selling all sorts of illicit items.

But aren’t the Silk Road 3.0 administrators afraid of getting caught (especially considering how their predecessors ended up in jail)? Fezzik, a Silkroad 3.0 employee, gave an interview that details how he and other Silkroad 3.0 employees and admins manage to get by everyday with the fear of arrest looming over their heads.

Fezzik, who is a father of two kids, acknowledges the dangers of his job and even admits that he is haunted by it every day. But instead of being afraid, this just pushes him and the team to look for more ways to improve operational security on Silkroad 3.0. He also believes that other darknet marketplaces will continue to surge in popularity even after the Ulbricht fiasco.

It seems like Silk Road 3.0 just won’t be going anywhere soon with people like Fezzik on the team.

Jul 06

Former Fed Agent Admitted Charges Against Him

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

US District Judge Richard SeeborgThe former head of a law enforcement agency charged with investigating the Silk Road operations in Baltimore has pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering, extortion and impediment of justice. Speaking before US District Judge Richard Seeborg, Carl Mark Force who was dressed in an orange cell jumpsuit shocked the court by admitting that he stole bitcoins worth over $700,000 from the Silk Road site.

Prosecutors described the details of his charges in a packed courtroom, stating that he was seduced by the alleged anonymity of dark web’s virtual currency system thinking authorities would never catch up with him. Force used fake Silk Road accounts and encrypted messages to illegally obtain his loot.

Taking the pseudonym of “Nob”, a state-sanctioned account by which he interacted with Ross Ulbricht through his “Dread Pirate Roberts” persona, Force took direct payments from the Silk Road kingpin and did not tell his superiors about it. But instead diverted the sums to his own personal accounts.

BitcoinHe also started a second unsolicited account “French Maid”, where he amassed approximately $100,000 in bitcoins by providing “counter-intelligence” to law enforcement agencies. His own greed and an attempt to extort more cash by using a third anonymous account “Death From Above”, eventually lead to his arrest.

Government authorities also charged Force with having multiple conflicts of interest, particularly a 20th Century Fox movie contract where he was supposed to be paid $240,000 for telling his story for recording. It’s not yet clear how much money he received from this deal; the contract was signed without telling his DEA superiors about it.

Another conflict involved a firm known as CoinMKT, which he actively worked for and had investments in as well. He took advantage of his position as a DEA agent to help them run criminal background checks. At one point, Force confiscated around $370,000 from a certain CoinMKT user, claiming he was receiving it on behalf of DEA, but only added $37,000 to the government account and kept the rest for himself.

His final sentencing will be given in October 2015; the maximum prison sentence he can get for Silk Road money-laundering alone is 20yrs. Not mentioning other charges which also carry their own specific jail terms. According to his attorney, Ivan Bridges, Mr. Force has accepted responsibility and agreed to pay a total sum of $500,000 as restitution for the crimes committed. About $150,000 of it has already been paid.

Jun 30

Accused Silk Road DEA Agent Takes A Plea Deal

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

According to court papers filed last week, the DEA agent who has been accused of extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bitcoins from Ross Ulbricht, founder of the drug trafficking website Silk Road, will plead guilty in the court. Carl Force, the DEA agent in question, has reportedly agreed to a plea deal with the federal prosecutors.

In a court filing at San Francisco, prosecutors revealed that Carl Force will be facing charges of obstruction of justice, extortion and money laundering. Force is one of the two federal agents, who had been arrested in March for stealing from the Silk Road website. He will be entering his guilty plea on 1st of July, while the sentencing for the case is scheduled to take place at a later date.

Crimes Committed by Force

According to the court filings, Carl Force used several fake online accounts to steal and extort form Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road. Using an account called “Nob”, Force enticed Ulbricht to conduct a “fake hit” against one of the former admins on the site and got in return, a payment of about $90,000.

Force had another account, the “French Maid”, which was not known to his superiors at the DEA. Using the “French Maid”, Force is supposed to have passed on a lot of inside information about the government’s investigation of the Silk Road. He was paid a sum of $100,000 in bitcoins for his services as the French Maid. Operating with a third fake account, “Death From Above”, Carl Force is said to have attempted extortion from Ulbricht, saying that he knew who Ulbricht was and threatening to expose him to the Feds. However, this attempt failed as Force had no idea about who Ulbricht actually was – Ulbricht found out that Force had the wrong person tagged as the Silk Road founder.

Force is also charged with conducting various questionable acts against some other organizations and bitcoin users in a separate case to the Silk Road. He is said to have acquired a De Facto Compliance Officer position at a “digital currency exchange company” CoinMKT, where he used his position as a DEA agent to help the company do criminal background checks and at one point, said to have frozen a customer’s account and drained $297,000 in bitcoins from it into his own personal account.

This new development in the case comes at the heels of the news of another federal agent, Shaun Bridges agreeing to a plea deal regarding the same Silk Road case. Meanwhile, Ulbricht’s defense lawyers tried to use these two charges against Bridges and Force, as evidence for a retrial. However, they were denied the motion making no alterations to Ulbricht’s sentencing who had been given a life imprisonment sentence last month.