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.
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.