Corrupt FBI Agent Allegedly Threatens Former Silk Road Architect

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

On Wednesday 27th September 2015, a man believed by many to be the orchestrator of Silkroad has made a slew of accusations against a person he suspects to be an FBI employee.

Variety JonesVariety Jones, who many believe to be the Silkroad architectas well as a mentor to Silkroad creator Ross Ulbricht, accuses the unnamed rogue FBI agent of threatening to kill him and also torture Ulbricht’s mother and sister if he did not help him get the pass phrase to Silkroad bitcoin wallet estimated to be worth around $70 million.

The unnamed FBI agent uses a pseudonym of Diamond, and has been accused by Jones of among other things, leaking sensitive information and extorting dark web owners for bitcoin.

According to Variety Jones, Diamond believed that his involvement in creating Silkroad could be of use to him to gain access to the Silkroad bitcoin funds. Jones alleges that he wanted him to relocate to Singapore where the agent could then set up a safe house for him. The rogue agent assured him that he would help him be clear of the clutches of the feds. Jones wrote this information on MyPlantGanja forum.

Jones says that when he refused to cooperate with Diamond to help him obtain keys for the encrypted wallet, the threats became more serious every day.

He says that the rogue agent started to get nastier and nastier every day, because he did not cooperate in assisting him obtain the keys to encrypted wallet.

“I knew he was serious with his regular threats. If I didn’t do as he asked, or ended up in custody of any authority, he would use his power and authority to get me killed,” said Jones.

Leaked sensitive information

Jones also claims that Diamond gave him classified information regarding Silkroad investigations upfront. Specifically, Jones cites the information about former Silkroad special agents Shaun Bridges and Carl Mark Force IV, two US law enforcement officers who were charged for transferring Silkroad seized funds to their private accounts during the investigation into Silkroad. Given that only high-ranking FBI members have the authority and power over this kind of information, Jones was convinced that Diamond was indeed an FBI agent.

Jones claimed that he was approached by an FBI agent under online pseudonym who then provided inside info on FBI investigations before such information was made public. Diamond was very determined to gain access to the Silkroad bitcoin wallet that contained an estimated 300,000 BTC. These previously belonged to Ross Ulbricht, the convicted creator of Silkroad.


When Variety Jones showed hesitation to help Diamond gain access to the Silkroad bitcoin wallet, the agent threatened to kidnap Ulbricht’s sister and mother and then torture them until the Silkroad creator revealed the password, this is according to one of his forum posts.

As evidence, Jones provided Diamond’s TorChat ID on his forum post. Although the ID is active, the person behind it didn’t immediately respond to messages.

Jones said that he made contact with the Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Southern District of New York to warn him of Diamond’s actions. This is the officer who was in charge of prosecuting Silkroad creator Ross Ulbricht.

The FBI is not taking the matter lightly.

The FBI released a statement about the whole situation, saying that they are aware of claims that were made by Variety Jones. Through an emailed statement, the FBI says that they have already forwarded the allegations to the right offices for further review. The agency treats claims of employee misconduct seriously as their mission is to always uphold the rule of law.

Jones has since turned himself in to the authorities believing that his life was in danger if he didn’t do so.

Trapping Diamond

SilkroadAfter realizing that Diamond was a powerful and a high-ranking officer of the FBI, Jones began to look for ways of catching him so that he would reveal his real identity.

He began looking for opportunities to ensnare Diamond on Agora Marketplace when he came across the tiniest bit of evidence about his identity. But the shutting down of Agora on April 26 was a huge blow as it took away the only real chance of unmasking the rogue agent.

Having seen the last chance of trapping Diamond gone, Jones thought it better to surrender himself to the feds, in return for protection. He cautioned Ulbricht’s family members and also asked the FBI to ensure that Diamond does not kidnap Ulbricht’s sister or mother and that Silkroad creator Ross Ulbricht is not under any harm from Diamond’s cronies.

Read More

DPR Mentor To Be Back Online

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

Dread Pirate RobertsThe mentor of the clandestine operator of Silkroad, Ross Ulbricht (also known as Dread Pirate Roberts), has appeared back online after a long stint of silence. Apart from being his advisor, Variety Jones also made key financial and security decisions on the Silkroad during its operations. He further tried to expand the Silkroad portfolio to other sectors such as installation of encrypted email service.

Based on information sourced from backup logs, Jones had last been active the time Silkroad was being shut down after a sanctioned federal embargo. Thereafter, he maintained a low profile and did not appear on any Silkroad public forum until recently.

The research conducted by an independent researcher by the name of “La Moustache” determined that Variety Jones is likely Roger or Thomas Clark. Though web data showed his account to be operational, efforts to chat with Jones/Clark were unfruitful.

Moreover, another of his old usernames “Plural of Mongoose” has been resurrected on a popular cannabis forum. This is the moniker that led researcher La Moustache to track down Variety Jones, after he started posting long, auto-biographical writings about himself.

Though it’s still uncertain as to where the physical location of Plural of Mongoose is, one of his recent posts hints that he’ll be going somewhere or making a journey of some sort. Which suggests that he might be headed to prison. The man wrote “I’ve got this trip planned…” and he’s looking forward to exploring the big city though not yet sure where to stay upon arrival. Mr. Jones ends the message by giving a chilling premonition that it could be a “state of the art” facility he’s going to, if readers actually know what he means.

It seems as if he has logged back to his old account, with the sole aim of communicating with old contacts before making the alleged trip. Assuming this account is being run by the original owner, and not a third party individual. Variety Jones says he has no idea when he’ll be back from the voyage, which is why the account was revived to have some little conversation with former Silkroad friends, enemies and acquaintances alike before going away.

The posts, some containing as much as 3,000 words, explain how “Plural of Mongoose” was arrested after being found running an underground cannabis business in UK, amongst other related crimes. At one point, Jones even identifies himself as “Roger Thomas Clark,” which were the same names uncovered by researcher La Moustache. Despite these revelations the FBI have not yet given any response as to their next course of action.

During his active years at the Silkroad, Variety played an important role in pointing out security holes on the site which needed immediate fixing. As the Silkroad platform steadily grew, he soon became a staffer and right-hand man of founder Ulbricht.

Silkroad-market-screenDue to Jones’s influence, Ross who was operating under the pseudonym of DPR began appreciating just how popular the Silkroad brand could get. In one of his uncovered journals, Ulbricht writes that the man helped him develop a bigger picture of their operations. He helped DPR navigate through uncharted waters which led to further expansion of the website, such as opening of Silkroad exchange, chat, credit union and lottery participation programs.

Recent revelations show that before the federal investigations into Silkroad started, Jones was already planning to shape the Silkroad site into a stronger more tamper-proof entity which could survive years of intense security searches. In fact, there are more than 1,400 chat log pages between Variety Jones and Dread Pirate Roberts. That figure is at least 4 times more than all messages connecting DPR with other employees on the Silkroad platform, clearly showing their business relations were more detailed.

Jones later changed his Silkroad name to Cimon and was present during its active years, giving the operator tips on how to expand until it reached its heydays as the primary online drug bazaar. Ulbricht sought advice from Jones because he was good at adding his own personal touch to the fast emerging Silkroad market. From his activities till date, it’s apparent that Variety Jones has a habit of changing his online moniker every so often, maybe in a bid to confuse federal agents.

Read More

The Mysterious Terrain Of Silk Road

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

Once more, Alex Winter has proven himself as a thorough and dedicated researcher and documentary filmmaker. His newest release “Deep Web” is even far more convincing than the Downloaded (2013).

The topic of the movie, however, doesn’t cover the whole Deep Web, as the title suggests, but it’s narrowed to the whole Silk Road and Ross Ulbricht aka Dread Pirate Roberts history. The Deep Web movie covers the complete story, from the foundation of the drug market website, to its final seizing and the conviction of its founder Ross Ulbricht.

As Winter says, Ulbricht was math and encryption enthusiast and the main idea behind the Silk Road network was to create secure and anonymous drug market and to stop violence in the drug selling world; not just between drug dealers themselves but the violence of FBI, DEA, LS and others who were in charge of the cases.


The Silk Road was an ideal place to sell and buy drugs. It offered high anonymity and user reviews made sellers more reliable. It was the largest darknet market in existence and since it was operating with TOR and Bitcoin it was completely untraceable. What’s more, it had everything – heroin, opium, psychedelics …

But, when things got real and the millions of dollars went through the system, it became suspicious and first traces occurred.

One of the first breakthroughs was made, unintentionally, by a mother of a fourteen year old who was suddenly interested in snail mail delivery. She opened one of his mails and found a DVD box with crystal meth inside.

Homeland Security investigators started intercepting mail and shipments from all over the world and found mail full of drugs and currency, all linked to Silk Road. The FBI simultaneously started its own investigation and it took them two years to actually catch the culprit.

Lot of noise was made about FBI’s apparent illegal activities while tracing down the hosting servers in Iceland and Germany. It is believed that they are actually hacked but FBI never revealed its method.

Deep-Web-2015-203x300Ross admitted that he created Silk Road but he claimed that he wasn’t DPR, even though he was logged in into administrator panel of the website while being arrested. He claimed that the real DPR framed him.

One of the evidence that FBI used to link Ross Ulbricht to the Dread Pirate Roberts was a journal that was found on his laptop describing his involvement in the Silk Road and the bitcoins seized from his laptop came directly from the site.

Unfortunately, Winter wasn’t able to interview Ulbricht from prison because of the severity of the charges, however he did interviewed his family, friends and even the people involved directly in drug selling business.

To underline, Alex Winter has made an excellent documentary and didn’t not spare anyone, giving the complete insight of the story about a deep web, Silk Road drug market, and Ross Ulbricht and its definitely worth watching whether you are new to this topic or not.

Read More

Former Mt. Gox CEO Charged With Embezzlement

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

The Mt. Gox and Mark Karpeles are in news again. Those who had been following the Mt. Gox saga wouldn’t be surprised to know that after nearly six weeks of his arrest, Mark Karpeles, former CEO of the bitcoin exchange, have been charged with embezzlement.

Mt. Gox has been embroiled in speculation and controversy since its bankruptcy in early 2014. The New York office of the U.S. Attorney General reportedly issued a subpoena for determining factuality of the missing funds reports. Investigators have been trying to ascertain the whereabouts of millions of dollars and the reason for their disappearance. Also, Japanese prosecutors launched a special investigation into Mt. Gox, which resulted in the arrest and now framing of charges against Karpeles.

Alleged crime of Karpeles

Mt_GoxAs reported by Japan’s Kyodo News, Karpeles is suspected of moving money into his own company’s accounts from the accounts of his clients. Allegedly, he transferred the money from Gox’s bank account to other accounts in October 2013. The total amount transferred is around $2.7 million.

Apparently, he used most of the money for buying licenses for 3D-rendering software. However, some of the money was also spent on a highly expensive “custom-built bed.” Karpeles had denied any wrongdoing at his company before he was arrested in August. According to him, he did everything to prevent any wrongdoing but it still happened. He blamed hackers for the loss of bitcoins and the eventual collapse of Mt. Gox.

Although this is the first time Karpeles has been charged for a financial crime, he had been a suspect in a cybercrime before. In Feb, 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) special agent Jared Deryeghiayan disclosed that during 2012 and 2013 Karpeles was pursued as a suspected operator and owner of the Silk Road. At that time, Mark Karpeles was the CEO of Mt. Gox and the Silk Road was a massive online drug market.

Bitcoin bubble and Mt. Gox bankruptcy

bitcoin-newsThe tech industry was captivated by the bitcoin bubble in late 2013 to early 2014. Over the period of two months the price of bitcoin rallied from nearly $118 to around $1000. Several rags to riches stories emerged, and many more people started getting interested in the quick earnings that bitcoin seemed to offer.

During this time, Mt. Gox emerged as the largest bitcoin exchange in the world. Therefore, becoming one of the most visible sign of the bitcoin bubble. Until it filed for bankruptcy citing losses of tens of millions of dollars.

Experts believe that the lack of control and regulation in the bitcoin market makes it a highly risky investment. However, Mt. Gox claimed that it fell into bankruptcy because more than $450 million disappeared. They alleged that the money was stolen by hackers. However, investigators found that another $2.7 million were absent from the company’s bank account, for which its CEO Mark Karpeles was arrested.


Karpeles is still in the custody of Japanese authorities, and he has the right to file for “release pending trial” petition in the court. Whether he exercises this right or not remains to be seen. Although complete details of the prosecution’s case are not yet known, the odds are stacked against Karpeles as the conviction rate in Japan is nearly 99 percent. In the Silk Road investigation, Mark Karpeles came out clean. Let us see whether Karpeles can come out clean of this case as he came out of the Silk Road investigation.

Read More

Silk Road’s Lesser-Known Players

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

Silkroad was, and still is in one form, an online black market. Silkroad dealt primarily in selling illegal drugs and was run and managed in such a way that it was possible to browse and purchase as an anonymous user, with high security measures put in place so as to limit traffic monitoring and spying. Many know of its founder Ross William Ulbricht, a.k.a. Dread Pirate Roberts, but less is known about his two secret employees, Variety Jones and Smed.

What Was Silkroad?


Silkroad was originally founded in February 2011, and derived its name from an old historical network of trade routes used between many countries including China, India and many European countries during the Han Dynasty. Many drug dealers and users would securely search the Silkroad website in order to buy and sell their illegal goods. Dread Pirate Roberts was the operator of Silkroad, a pseudonym derived from a character in the novel and movie The Princess Bride. Once public awareness of the Silkroad market grew, arrests and trials began emerging for many users and operators and eventually Ross William Ulbricht himself was arrested in October 2013. The Silkroad website was closed down, but since then other versions have emerged.

The Other Players

Of course it would have been an overwhelming job to operate and control the online drug market Silkroad all by himself as popularity and users grew, and so Dread Pirate Roberts hired a minimal team to support him. These would range from forum moderators to market administrators, and over the years most of these have now been apprehended. However, the two most important cogs in this well-oiled machine have never been publicly revealed.

Variety Jones

Variety Jones was a member of Silkroad since 2011, and dealt primarily in the selling of marijuana. Behind the scenes, however, it was revealed that he had a much more sinister role, according to Ulbricht as both a financial advisor and a mentor. It was even revealed that Variety was the one who suggested both the infamous pseudonym and Ulbricht’s first murder-for-hire attempt (however, no murder actually occurred). Variety Jones and another known as Smedley or Smed were revealed to be the driving force behind the business, discussing future ideas and projects without the involvement of Ulbricht at all.


The user known as Smedley began working on Silkroad at the beginning of 2012 and was hired for his coding abilities. He meticulously developed the infrastructure and was in talks with Variety jones to develop both an encrypted email network and service, and also implementing a bitcoin system for a more cryptic form of payment. In other words, it would appear that Variety Jones was the brain of the operation, working with Ulbricht to develop Silkroad into something much larger and more profitable, while Smed used his skills to develop their vision.

So as you can see, despite Ulbricht (Dread Pirate Roberts) receiving all of the publicity and responsibility for Silkroad and its operations, there were two other very important characters at work. Many attempts to trace these two figures have been made and speculation has been made as to their identities, but the FBI and DEA have never made an official statement regarding their identities and current whereabouts.

Read More

The Effect Of Silk Road On Bitcoin And Tor

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

The aftermath of Silk Road was that the Tor project and the Bitcoin were specifically used for illegal activities. Some people have even gone ahead to dismiss Bitcoin as a criminal tool while Tor as a tool used in the dark world of hackers to commit criminal activities. However, this was not the case when the two were discovered. Tor was originally designed by the US Naval Research Laboratory for the primary purpose of protecting government communications online. As for Bitcoin, it is a digital currency invented by Satoshi Nakamoto. It was meant to cover exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment system and most importantly was the fact that it was meant to be decentralized such that no institution controlled it.


When building Silk Road, getting the drugs was the easy part but the hardest part was discovering a way to sell the drugs online without being discovered by the authorities and this is how the site’s creator decided to settle for the Tor software. This was going to guarantee his invisibility in the web. This also allowed websites to be set under similar curtain of obscurity.

The second tool that came in handy was Bitcoin. With Tor alone, any customer could visit site and buy what they want without being tracked. However, the creator realized that some customer would want to pay for the drugs without having to send money through the mail. Bitcoin was the best option since the blockchain ledger on Bitcoin would indicate that the coins are moving but the recipient’s bitcoin address and the name will still remain anonymous on either end. Hence, the people involved in the trade will still remain unknown.

Silk Road

This is how the two ended up being the main tool used in Silk Road to carry out the trade of illegal drugs hence tarnishing their purpose.

Read More

30-Year-Old Man Used Silk Road for Selling Ecstasy To Pay Back A Debt

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

Daniel Andrew Atkinson, 30, a gambling addict who studied a chemistry course and made illegal drugs, which he then sold via the darknet marketplace Silk Road, has been imprisoned for more than 8 years. Atkinson has admitted that he used the (old) Silk Road as a platform to sell hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of ecstasy.
Silkroad-market-screenThe District Court had heard that Daniel Andrew Atkinson had flee to Adelaide from the interstate due to his gambling debts and he had been threatened several times with physical violence – including an alleged drive by shooting – if he didn’t pay up.

In spite of the large the volume of illegal drugs sold, Atkinson’s lawyer David Edwardson, QC, submitted to the District Court that his client deserved leniency. He said that Atkinson is not an evil drug dealer who embarked upon a course of conduct just for pure greed and who couldn’t care less about the consequences of his actions. Daniel Andrew Atkinson had pleaded guilty to several counts of trafficking and manufacturing of illegal drugs.

sagnew_hrProsecutor Susan Agnew informed Judge Geraldine Davison that Daniel Andrew Atkinson had set-up a sophisticated drug manufacturing and trafficking operation that had netted him enormous profits. She told the court Atkinson, of Condowie had rented several properties in the central business district under false names and set-up pseudonyms on the Silk Road, the notorious website – that enabled people to sell and buy illegal drugs on an anonymous and secretive section of the internet that is known as the dark web. The Silk Road was shut down by the F.B.I. in October 2013.

The prosecutor said that the accused had been manufacturing and selling large amounts of illegal drugs for substantial profit and it had been an ongoing operation that involved a lot of effort on the part of the accused, who had studied a chemistry course, set-up false names and identifications and also rented premises under fictitious names.

Judge Geraldine Davison sentenced Daniel Andrew Atkinson to 8 years and 5 months in prison with a non-parole period of 3 years and 6 months after the time he had spent in custody was taken into account.

Read More

Last Silk Road Bitcoin Auction Expected To Be Held Before The Year Ends

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

The US Marshals Service (USMS) has revealed it’s likely to auction off the remaining bitcoins that were confiscated from convicted Silkroad mastermind Ross Ulbricht sometime in 2015. This will be the USMS’s fourth bitcoin auction since a large stash of bitcoin was confiscated from Silkroad creator’s computer and the Silkroad servers in October 2013. A total of 44,336 BTC will be offered to prospective investors during the event. Unfortunately for some, the auction is only open to United States citizens, so foreign investors will not be able to make a move on the auction unless they have somebody working for them in the U.S. The USMS hasn’t yet set the specific dates of the auction, but the U.S. department is sure to hold it before the end of 2015.

The crackdown on the Silkroad was achieved as part of a joint operation between the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. U.S. Marshals Service has been in charge of the seized goods from Silkroad (mostly bitcoins) since then. In total, approximately 174,000 BTC were confiscated which included 144,000 bitcoins from Ross Ulbricht along with 29,655 bitcoins held in wallets on the Silkroad at the time of its shutdown.

The U.S government and Ross Ulbricht agreed to the sale of the bitcoins on January 27, 2015, during the Silkroad trial in New York City. On May 29 2015, Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to 2 life sentences plus other terms of five years, fifteen years and twenty years to be served concurrently and with no chance for parole, for his role in the Silkroad black market which only accepted payment in bitcoin. Ross was also ordered to pay $183,961,921 in civil asset forfeiture.

Most of these bitcoins were sold through a series of auctions held by the U.S. Marshals Service and the remaining 44,336 BTC will be cleared in the upcoming auction. During the first auction of the bitcoins seized from Silkroad attracted 45 bidders who made 63 bids, and the second auction only drew 11 bidders who made 27 bids. The third auction was held in March 2015, where 50,000 BTC were sold to bidders. 94% of the bitcoins from the third auction were bought by a secretive bitcoin company known as Cumberland Mining.

Read More

Latest Interview With Silk Road Creator’s Mother

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

Mrs. Ulbricht’s most recent interview painted a picture of not only a dedicated mother but also a comrade-in-arms who fully supported the ideals that her son was touted to believe in. She managed to shed some light about some pressing topics-

On the issue of Silk Road becoming known as the world’s largest drug trafficking portal:


Mrs. Lyn Ulbricht made it clear that she does not support drug use nor the Silk Road website herself. She firmly believes that her son Ross did not create Silk Road as a mere portal for illicit trading, but rather, for the realization of his ideals as a free market libertarian. She recounted how Ross pursued this passion: by teaching others about the topic through his own self-made video game and the lectures he gave out at the University of Texas, among other things.

On government encroachment on people’s personal liberties:

The judge in Ross’s trial accepted digital evidence to indict him. Other courts have already rejected this kind of evidence, but this was accepted in Ross’s case. Mrs. Ulbricht finds it unnerving that the government can use easily photoshopped digital material to indict anyone, which in this case can also be used as a precedent for them in the future. She also questioned about the legality of the confiscation of her son’s laptop, pointing out that it was confiscated only through a general warrant.

On Ross’s life sentence:

The Silk Road

She called the whole thing draconian before, and she still stands with that today. There’s just no reason for a non-violent person who committed no crimes before (and who also technically didn’t commit a violent crime) be jailed for his whole life. Mrs. Ulbricht pointed out that the government was using Ross as poster boy for the War on Drugs, but in doing so, was turning a blind eye towards all the other drug lords that they have failed to arrest. A life sentence will just destroy Ross and not reform him. There are hundreds of non-violent people like Ross rotting in jails all over the country, but the government is not setting its sights on the greater problem.

As a final note, Mrs. Ulbricht pointed out that Ross was a sweet kid, who as a child, was affable, easy going, and compassionate.

Read More

Former Silk Road Agent Admitted To Stealing $820,000 In Bitcoins

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

More skeletons are tumbling out of the cupboard as the investigation into Silkroad case advances. A former Silkroad agent has confessed to stealing of $820,000 equivalent of bitcoins during the course of investigating the online darknet contraband marketplace Silkroad. Shaun W. Bridges, a 33-year-old, who was working with the Baltimore Silkroad Task Force, pleaded guilty of money laundering and stealing, according to the US Department of Justice.


Bitcoin is an electronic currency that came into existence in 2008 and was subsequently used for many transactions by illegal sites such as Silkroad for selling contraband goods on the darknet. In spite of the fact that it was used by a few legitimate businesses as well, it was not formally recognized by any government as standard currency.

The Shaun Bridges Case

Hailing from Laurel Maryland, Shaun Bridges served the US Secret Service for about six years before being assigned to the Electronic Crimes Task Force. Between the years 2012 and 2014, The Silkroad Task Force that he was assigned to conduct forensic computer investigations towards tracing out and implicating perpetrators of the illegal transactions of Silkroad, including those of its founder Ross Ulbricht (also known as Dread Pirate Roberts).

Shaun Bridges allegedly used a Silkroad administrator account to siphon off 20,000 bitcoins into his personal account in January 2013. This was made possible through a series of complex transactions, including obtaining fraudulent access to the website, resetting passwords of different accounts and moving the bitcoins to a personal wallet account. Their value was then equivalent to about $350,000. He then transferred the bitcoins to an account run by a Japanese bitcoin exchange. However, this exchange was shut down in the year 2014 after millions of bitcoins in the exchange purportedly disappeared.

Bridges had also cashed out the stolen bitcoins out of Mt. Gox (the Japanese exchange) before it closed down and by then the bitcoin value had increased to $820,000. He had diverted the money from Silkroad into his personal investment accounts, prosecutors alleged.

In addition to these charges, Bridges confessed that he impeded the investigations of the officers in many ways, including making false and misleading statements and also encouraged another government employee to lie to the investigators.

This confession has come in following the earlier one in July last when Carl Force admitted to stealing $700,000 worth of bitcoins when he was part of the team that investigated Ross Ulbricht, the owner of the darknet website Silkroad.


The wrongful acts of the investigating officers are a clear case of betrayal of the trust which the public had placed on officers of the law, the Attorney General Caldwell opined in a release. The investigating attorney Haag also lauded the work of the federal officers who brought Shaun Bridges to book.

However, more than the fact that the department was quick to trace out the flow of funds from the accounts of the officers that were implicated, questions are being raised about the corruption involved in investigating the Silkroad case.

According to investigators, the confession of Shaun Bridges has added a new twist to the Silkroad investigation and would play a part in the appeal of Ulbricht who is currently serving 2 life sentences that are running parallel and is sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Read More