US Federal Prosecutor Tells About Bitcoin Online Crimes

Federal prosecutor Kathryn Haun came to know about Bitcoin when she was asked whether she would want to prosecute the cryptocurrency.

Haun, who is currently serving as the assistant US attorney of San Francisco’s US Department of Justice (DOJ), took almost no time to understand that prosecuting Bitcoin will never be possible for her.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Kathryn Haun, assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in San Francisco
Kathryn Haun, assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in San Francisco

The attorney, who is known for having her focus on murders, prison gangs, and organized crimes, found that prosecuting the cryptocurrency would be something equivalent to prosecuting cash.

However, she did not stop from gathering further knowledge about Bitcoin online crimes.

The journey has actually changed the US federal prosecutor’s life altogether.

There was a time when she did not have any idea about the cryptocurrency, but right now she is a person to talk to whenever something happens pertaining to Bitcoin.

Right now, Haun is enhancing the post of the digital currency coordinator at DOJ and teaches cyber crime and digital currency at the Stanford Law School.

In addition, she has also succeeded in sending a couple of federal agents behind the bars for committing online Bitcoin crime.

The two individuals in question are corrupt Silk Road investigators, who attempted to steal Bitcoin worth $800,000.

The majority of the cryptocurrency users are aware of the fact that the much talked about the Silk Road investigation involves a series of angles.

For instance, many are still questioning the judgment passed on to Ross Ulbricht, one of the main accused in the Silk Road case.

Ulbricht used to be a dark web market operator who got convicted of running the Silk Road and got arrested in 2013.

In addition, the case also involves law enforcement agents who are not beyond doubt; the two jailed investigators stand as the testimony of this fact.

Kathryn Haun is one person who has witnessed everything that happened during the Silk Road investigation, which helped her to gather valuable knowledge about the situation as well as the subject.

The investigation against the two corrupt federal agents connected to the dark web market, Silk Road, originally began with an unidentified tip.

It is surprising that no one thought that the anonymous tip would be revealing any kind of truth, it ended up unraveling the main truth.

It is often said and widely believed that greed succeeds in bringing out the worst from most humans; this incident proved that the statement stands true even for the federal law enforcement agents.

It showed that when it comes to money, even the protectors of law can become involved in unlawful activities.

Kathryn Haun, the US Federal Prosecutor, recently unveiled how she tries to bring criminal Bitcoin usage to an end. Prosecuting cryptocurrency-related crimes has been proven to be quite a challenge so far, though.
Kathryn Haun, the current digital currency coordinator at the DOJ in San Francisco, revealed a series of essential facts about Bitcoin online crimes.

When monitoring the Silk Road investigation, Kathryn Haun found that both the corrupt Silk Road investigators completed the job of stealing bitcoins in a way that made them almost “perfect criminals.”

That is because both of them knew the perfect way of covering tracks. However, there are a few behavioral patterns that cannot be denied.

It is impossible to decrease digital breadcrumbs just by using online aliases. As a result, the law enforcement officers eventually managed to get hold of the fraudulent Silk Road investigators.

What left people around the globe, particularly users of cryptocurrency, deeply surprised, is that how Haun confirmed that criminals have a habit of using mailboxes provided by different Russian providers.

On the other hand, as expected by most, Haun’s account revealed that mixers and tumblers have big roles to play in the process of laundering the steal Bitcoin funds.

The reassuring fact is that it is very much possible to unscramble those activities if enough time and effort are invested.

At the end of the day, it is absolutely heartwarming to see Haun admits that Bitcoin is not something that’s just about online crimes.

She confirmed that crime levels involving cash are still significantly higher compared to criminal activities involving Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Another great role the attorney has played is that she advocates the new technology called blockchain technology.

Experts are saying that this technology has the potential of making a major impact because most crimes are facilitated because of forged documents; that is a threat blockchain technology is capable of terminating seamlessly.

According to Haun, this holds great importance as the majority of the cases she has prosecuted so far (these include marriage fraud, impersonation of dead individuals, some murder cases, and of course this case involving cryptocurrency) have been affected severely by some form of stolen, counterfeit, or forged public document.

This indicates that the coming years might see blockchain technology gain huge popularity among cryptocurrency users.

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How ICE Aided In The Silk Road Takedown

The United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, was recently discovered to have a hand in the seizure of the Silk Road marketplace.

In a special expose published by the immigration department, it was revealed how ICE agents had been an instrument in the takedown of the Silk Road back in October 2013.

Currently, ICE is heavily involved in taking down other criminals on the deep web.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

ICE Collaborated with the Cyber Crimes Center

ICE aided in the takedown of Silk Road and how ICE is currently combating deepweb activity.
ICE aided in the takedown of Silk Road and how ICE is currently combating deepweb activity.

ICE’s extended reach into cyber crime has been facilitated by The Cyber Crimes Center (C3), who, according to their Deputy Assistant Director (DAD), Patrick Lechleitner is not at all scared by the darknet.

The DAD said that the sophistication of Darknet has been largely overestimated and that only special permissions are required to access the site.

Under the Department of Homeland Security, ICE is largely concerned with crimes taking place along the US border such as human and drug trafficking, and illegal immigration.

Despite that, the recently published report resolved the extended reach ICE has through The Cyber Crimes Center.

ICE’s Presence Instrumental in the Demise of the Silk Road

ICE was drawn into the DHS investigation named “Operation Dime Store,” leading to the seizure of the Silk Road.

This was after several small drug seizures were made at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport at the mail hub.

According to ICE, the seized packages were highly unusual because they were all sourced from international locations and were addressed to locations all over the United States, and were not commonly ship through the mail.

ICE was given a tasked with finding the source of the drugs and after intercepting and analyzing several packages, they traced that the drugs came from the darknet market and it did not take long.

Following the discovery, ICE dedicated all its efforts, they analyzed the fingerprints on the packaging to look for clues in tracking the drug vendors and where the site was hosted and made an undercover purchase to enter the website.

Investigations Spearheaded by SA DerYeghiayan

ICE agent SA DerYeghiayan spearheaded the investigations and enter the darknet market as an undercover agent and eventually became a top lieutenant the Silk Road website, said Lechleitner.

Throughout the investigations, Yeghiayan had played a vital role; he analyzed seized drugs, interrogated suspects, and collected evidence. He often included participation in arresting suspected vendors and was given an insight, perspective of the darknet market.

Expose explained that DerYeghiayanhan served as the lead witness in the Silk Road case in the US.

Ulbricht would not have been found guilty, without the agent’s work, ICE guaranteed Ulbricht’s double life sentence due to following criminal offenses: money laundering, smuggling of illegal drugs, continuing criminal enterprise, hacking, and fraud documentation.

Yeghiayan said that the most satisfying part of the investigation was blocking the website and putting an end through the dangerous flow of drugs and weapons across the world, but the most important is to shut down the website.

ICE’s victory over the Silk Road was the beginning of their adaptation to the deep web, according to their DAD Patrick Lechleitner.

ICE Perfectly Adapted To Take On Modern Cyber Crime

silkroad-takedown
ICE reveals an expose that shows that they played a big role in the takedown of the Silk Road darknet market.

As the deep web criminal world continues to grow, so does ICE’s reach and their workload.

The ICE HSI is directly involved in the fight against criminal activity in the cyber environment.

As a criminal investigation unit, HSI fights criminal activity on the darknet one step at a time, the same way they do offline.

As Lechleitner put it, this market a new era in law enforcement and simultaneously symbolized the evolution of law enforcement agencies, which was unavoidable for them to be able to adapt to the rapidly changing technological world.

As any other crime, ICE believes that sites such as the Silk Road cause a danger to citizens as long as nothing is done to control it.

Darknet Sites Dangerous to US Citizens

Darknet sites affect the average citizen both directly and indirectly. American faces many risks of the activity taking place on the dark web, Lechleitner explained.

Darknet market relates itself to the personal identification of a US citizen being stolen, based on ICE. Furthermore, the injection of illegal drugs and weapons into the society eventually bears dangerous effects to the people by way of increased crime rates.

ICE’s DAD signed off with a threat to any deep web criminals, saying that their involvement with illegal activities on the dark web market will eventually be caught up with by the federal law enforcement, who are always on the lookout.

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The Day $28 Million In Bitcoins Were Seized From Silk Road

New trends in Technology industry are like daily events, because of the high number and quality of people working in this domain, innovation is almost a routine task – while doing the impossible or unthinkable is a near-future target.

Every now and then, the “regular” population adopts one of the new trends in the business, moving it from a curiosity to a world-changing idea.

In 2008, the most widely-accepted technological breakthrough was the Bitcoin. However, one of the biggest pieces of regarding the Bitcoin connected the currency to Silkroad – a famous online black market.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

bitcoins seized
$28 million in bitcoins seized from Silk Road’s Ross Ulbricht

After the appearance of the Bitcoin, people have often wondered why a cryptocurrency took so long to appear in our lives.

The idea behind the Bitcoin is simple, it is a transfer of authority and a virtual currency which you can use to pay anything and everything online.

Although the idea went exceptionally well on paper, thereality was a bit slower to react.

Even in 2015, the number of merchants accepting payments in Bitcoins just passed the 100,000 mark – not enough to be called a full-fledged “revolution.”

The U.S. Government and security agencies didn’t give the currency lots of attention at the beginning either, but that all changed in 2011 when they targeted the above-mentioned Silkroad.

Since the currency was more-or-less completely anonymous and impossible to track, it quickly became the preferred way to pay for certain goods or services which were illicit.

This paired exceptionally well with the now-defunct website, the Silkroad.

It was owned by an individual called Ross William Ulbricht, which was a standard online marketplace – except for the fact that the goods that were traded in Silkroad were highly illicit.

Silkroad made a small fortune functioning as an online black market for drugs – but Ross Ulbricht quickly caught the attention of the authorities.

The founder of Silkroad was arrested in October 2013 and was charged with several accusations – ranging from drug trafficking to money laundering conspiracies.

Basically, he was charged to have conspired with every illicit dealing that took place on the Silkroad.

bitcoin
The Bitcoin in connection with the Silkroad, a famous online black market performed a record-breaking bust of more than $28 million.

The FBI took the entire scene one step further, and at the end of that month, made its biggest Bitcoin confiscation in history, from various members of the Silkroad.

The FBI seized just over 144,000 Bitcoins, an amount equivalent to roughly $28 million.

Along with this operation, the U.S. authorities also shut down Silkroad and sentenced Ross Ulbricht to no less than life in jail.

The size of the undertaking was the impressive part of the story, along with bringing the Silkroad to nationwide public’s attention.

It’s not an everyday occurrence you see a government take hold of $30 million in Bitcoins, especially for online transactions involving websites like Silkroad.

The size of the action also showed the world the downsides of having a currency such as the Bitcoin: having it used to its fullest for wrongdoings.

Since Bitcoin transactions are hard to track, especially when using anonymity tools like Tor, they are the perfect method of committing online frauds or crimes.

While Silkroad was closed, there is no exact quantity of how many of these websites functions in the U.S. alone, not to mention worldwide, where information security isn’t treated as seriously as in the United States.

Ross Ulbricht’s trial was relatively short and easy. His only defense was that while he had indeed found Silkroad, he gave up its administration to other people – a fact which was quickly proven false by prosecutors.

He was quickly sentenced to life in prison and was turned into one of the most famous examples of 21st-century criminals.

Silkroad was quickly shut down after his conviction, proving that he was indeed one of the main players on the website.

Smart, using technology to his advantage and always on top of his game, Ross Ulbricht has been a great example of what can happen when crimes update themselves to get in line with 21st-century technology.

To sum up, the 28th of October will be remembered as the day in which the largest-ever Bitcoin confiscation was made.

This confiscation marked the end of the Silkroad and a lifetime conviction of its owner, founder, and administrator, Ross Ulbricht.

Privacy and power are great additions to everyday life for normal people, but if they fall into the wrong hands, we all know what they’re capable of.

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The Dark Web And The Man Behind The Silk Road

The internet is limitless. Search engines like Google are resourceful; they only have access based on the most extensive online world.

The dark web typically comprises a huge network of non-indexed websites which require specific software or a special set of configurations to access.

In comparison to the deep web—the part of the internet that although hidden from search results, can be accessed using passwords and other forms of authorization—it offers a certain level of anonymity even from the law enforcement.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

As such, the dark web is fueled by the activities of the illegal variety. It is an infamous criminal hub since online activity on the dark web is somewhat untraceable and provides a much-needed mask around people involved in illegitimate trade among other illegal activities.

Created By: US Military Researchers

 

ross-ulbricht
Meet The Dread Pirate Roberts, The Man Behind Booming Black Market Drug Website Silk Road

The darkweb was created in the 90s by the United States government as a hidden network within which their spies could exchange information anonymously.

 

The government and military researchers birthed The Onion Router, famously known as TOR, and made it available to the public as a way of enhancing their spies’ anonymity by making it harder for them to investigate through thousands of interactions.

The term “Onion Router” was coined because the router used the onion routing technique where websites are buried under layers of concealing data, effectively making them anonymous.

Currently, TOR is hosting an estimated 30,000 hidden websites, most of which are on the .onion domain.

“The Dark Web is Like a Forest” – Daniel Prince

In an effort to clearly explain the workings of the dark web, the Lancaster University Associate Director Security, Daniel Prince, gave a simple illustration on how it operates on the popular website.

He linked the internet to a gigantic forest where the only way to get from one point to another is through designated paths, which he referred to as search engines like Google.

Other than the paths, there was no way to navigate the forest unless directed where to look. This is the principle that is built upon and which allows activities and identities to stay well hidden, he said.

Not surprisingly, the anonymity factor proves to be very appealing to the criminal’s minds, who have crowded the hidden network to conduct their various illegal deeds.

Although the dark web is primarily considered to be a criminal hub, it is a useful resource for journalists and activists who wish to relay sensitive information away from prying eyes.

List of Criminal Activities

dark-web-crime
Weapons and drugs trade to the growing child pornography ring, we take a comprehensive look into the mysterious side of the internet.

According to a study conducted by the University of Portsmouth in 2014, child pornography takes the lead as the most wanted content on the dark web and is closely followed by the illegal trade of weapons, drugs and stolen personal information.

Other unlawful activities that are conducted under the cover of anonymity include hacking, fraud, and abuse.

Law Enforcement Have Made Several Busts

As much as TOR is considered inaccessible, it has been the subject of more than a few raids by law enforcement agencies and numerous arrests have been made in connection with the criminal activities conducted.

Governments have begun dedicating more resources towards breaching the anonymous network, typically using malware and viruses that compromise users and relay their information to their servers.

In one notable case, the UK government’s efforts to eliminate child pornography resulted in the capture of the most wanted pedophile in Britain, Richard Huckle.

They achieved this after secretly capturing a child abuse website. The perpetrator was served 22 life sentences for 71 child sex offenses.

Another online bust dubbed “Operation Onymous” resulted in the arrest of 17 people and the takeover of hundreds of pounds in bitcoin. Of all the arrests, however, only one person was successfully taken into custody.

The Take Down of The Silk Road

Ross Ulbricht is undoubtedly one of the most high-profile arrests made in the history of the dark web.

The alleged creator of the multi-million dollar drug-fueled dark web market, the Silk Road, was arrested in a bust that was so massive, it led to the collapse of the website in its totality.

At the time, the Silk Road market was worth an estimated $34.5 million and had a customer base of over one million users.

Services that could be obtained on the Silk Road included fake identification cards and passports, purchase of drugs and weapons and hacking services.

There was even an elaborate system to rate and review the services to make it easier for new customers of the Silk Road.

Ross Ulbricht’s arrest did not necessarily mean the end of the Silk Road market as it has since spawned three other successors, two of which have also failed tragically.

Ross Ulbricht is currently serving his life sentence in a New York prison for charges including money laundering, drug trafficking, and attempted murder.

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Arrests Continues Even after the Shutdown of Silk Road

Arrests related to Silkroad continue as the extradition of two members of Italian Mafia Brussels to the US has been approved by Romanian authorities.
Arrests related to Silkroad continue as the extradition of two members of Italian Mafia Brussels to the US has been approved by Romanian authorities.

More than three years after the original Silkroad dark net marketplace was taken down together with its founder Ross William Ulbricht, the online drug hub is still making the news.

Recently, the extradition of two cyber criminals who were key members of the Italian Mafia Brussels (IMB) has been given the go-ahead by Romanian authorities.

Italian Mafia Brussels was a dark web vendor that dealt in the selling of drugs through Silkroad and Silkroad 2.0.

The majority of the drugs they sold were MDMA and ecstasy.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Six members of the Italian Mafia Brussels were arrested in Belgium, the US, and Romania. All the six are now in custody awaiting trial.
Six members of the Italian Mafia Brussels were arrested in Belgium, the US, and Romania. All the six are now in custody awaiting trial.

The IMB was taken down through a joint international police operation.

The two key members of the organization, Filip Simion, and Leonardo Cristea were arrested by the police back in May 2016 during simultaneous early morning raids in Bucharest, Romania.

Filip and Leonardo are two among the six members of the Italian Mafia Brussels who have been arrested this year.

This collaboration between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Europol was carried out in the United States, France, Belgium, and Romania.

The operation also led to the arrest of Ymran Djavatkhanov and Andy Nestor, who were suspected to be members of the illegal dark net organization and have been named in the US indictment.

Filip Simon and Leonardo Cristea are currently awaiting trial in the United States.

They will be tried for money laundering and illegal importation of controlled substances.

If they are indeed found guilty, they may face a maximum sentence of 20 years.

On the other hand, Ymran Djavatkhanov and Andy Nestor will be tried in Belgium because the US is not going to pursue their extradition.

The IMB operated storefronts on several dark web platforms including the Silkroad and Silkroad 2.0 where bitcoin was the means of payment.

To avoid online surveillance, they employed some encrypted communication services such as WhatsApp, RedPhone, and Signal while using marketplaces on the Tor network.

According to the US Department of Justice, the investigation of the Italian Mafia Brussels and its relationship to Silkroad began in 2013 after a package containing MDMA was caught by the authorities.

The package was bound for Colorado from Belgium and contained more than 60 grams of MDMA.

The recipient of the package stated that they had bought the drugs from Italian Mafia Brussels.

A number of businesses also complained about receiving returned packages from the United States.

The businesses claimed that they had not sent the said packages.

The IMB operated by sending packages to their Silkroad and Silkroad 2.0 customers mostly in the United States and Canada.

These packages were made to look like they were sent from legal businesses.

The organization carefully chose businesses that dealt with products that were somewhat similar to the drugs.

From February to September 2014, the authorities in Belgium confiscated a number of packages from the organization.

These packages contained invoices similar to those of a legitimate company.

The investigations following these discoveries including the Silkroad investigations were vital in the tracking and subsequent arrest of Fillip Simion and his fellow group members.

Simion was tracked physically by the Romanian Federal Police and the Belgian Federal Judicial Police.

The information was uncovered in 2013 and 2014 after Silkroad and Silkroad 2.0 were shut down; this incident also shed light on the operations of IMB.

The recent spate of arrests and convictions related to the Silkroad and Silkroad 2.0 dark net markets can largely be attributed to the cooperation between international law enforcement agencies.

While these arrests are taking place, Silkroad and Silkroad 2.0 became defunct, and this is a great step against illegal underground operations, but they have done little to stop the online drug dealing operations.

According to recent surveys, dark net markets have steadily increased their customer base despite the revamped crackdown on illegal platforms by law enforcement agencies.

Due to the convenience of the dark net markets such as Silkroad, more people are using these platforms to gain access to drugs and other illegal products or services.

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Coen Brothers to Write the Script for the Silk Road Movie

Films about Cyber-crime or hacking are not in the mainstream nowadays. However, in recent years films with internet security themes are getting their fair share of high-end movie screen time. In the last two years, a couple of notable films with the same storylines are “Blackhat”, and Oliver Stone’s NSA breach biopic “Snowden”.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Ethan and Joel Coen at the premiere of Hail, Caesar! in Los Angeles on
Ethan and Joel Coen at the premiere of Hail, Caesar! in Los Angeles on

According to reports, an upcoming film is going to add to this list. The film, entitled “Dark Web”, this film is based on a wired two-part account on the Silk Road and its convicted founder Ross William Ulbricht.

Fox Studios who has exclusive rights to the story have enlisted the services of two well-established and high profile film screenwriters, directors and editors in Hollywood; the Coen Brothers.

Ethan and Joel Coen are going to write the screenplay for the Silk Road film, but at the moment it is not known whether they will also direct the movie.

It would definitely be a great news if the brothers are directing the movie as well, but they are known to write films not as directors.

The Coen brothers have an enviable list of film-related achievements behind them spanning several decades including but not limited to “The Big Lebowski”, “True Grit”, “No country for Old Men”, “Fargo”, “O Brother”, “Where Art Thou?”, “Bridge of Spies” and “Hail Caesar”.

The brothers earned Oscars for their parts in “Fargo” and “No Country for Old Men”.

As such, the expectations for this film will definitely be high. Silk Road, on which the film will be based, is the highly controversial online drug dealing dark web forum founded and operated by Ross William Ulbricht.

Silkroad was originally founded in February 2011, and derived its name from an old historical network of trade routes used between many countries .
Silkroad was originally founded in February 2011, and derived its name from an old historical network of trade routes used between many countries .

Silk Road was established in February 2011 and until his arrest in October 2013 by the FBI, Ulbricht operated the site under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts.”

He is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole; a sentence that many people felt was unduly harsh.

According to investigations by the FBI, Silk Road facilitated anonymous channels for dealers to transact illegal goods and services most of which were drugs.

The film is set to dwell largely on the aspects of the dark web platforms.

According to some reports, the film will feature the alleged purchase of special services such as contract killings, an accusation that the FBI pointed at Dread Pirate Roberts.

Many Silk Road users have since slammed these allegations on online forums as false.

They deny the existence of such kinds of services claiming that Silk Road only facilitated the buying and selling of drugs.

Currently, the true inner details of the Silk Road and Dread Pirate Roberts are still murky.

As such, it is very likely that the film may not be 100% accurate as in the case with the majority of Hollywood movies that are based on true stories.

The aforementioned “Snowden” was the recent testament to this.

Also, the film will feature a part of the story that law enforcement agencies would rather prefer to stay low profiled.

Ross Ulbricht was not the only individual to be implicated in the Silk Road.

Two federal agents including Carl Force, a former DEA agent, were also charged with extorting and laundering bitcoins from the Silk Road platform and Ulbricht himself.

It is important to note that this is not the beginning of the work on this film.

The project started back in 2013, where Chernin Entertainment and Fox Studios enlisted Dennis Lehane to write the script for the movie. At the time it was titled Silk Road.

Lehane himself is a bestselling author and has films such as “Shutter Island”, “Gone Baby Gone”, and “Mystic River” under his name.

It is not clear what exactly prompted the changes or even if the new script is a continuation of Lehane’s work.

Fortunately for Dark Web, the Silk Road saga is still a developing story as a new Silk Road is currently in operation despite its founder being in prison.

Also, Ulbricht is still appealing the sentence with a major focus on the discrepancies in his trial process.

The film is still more than a year off with expected release dates in late 2017 or early 2018.

Therefore, the Coen Brothers still have an interesting range of directions in which to take the film depending on any developments within that given period of time.

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Facebook Marketplace Looks Similar To The Silk Road After Launch

Facebook recently introduced Marketplace, a new feature that allows its users to buy and sell items with other people in their community.

However, the newly-launched Facebook Marketplace started off on a rocky note after a surprising turn of events converted the Marketplace into an online commerce platform similar to Silk Road.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Highly Illicit Offers

Facebook Introducing Marketplace Buy and Sell with Your Local Community.
Facebook Introducing Marketplace Buy and Sell with Your Local Community.

One listing purportedly advertised the sale of baby hedgehog while another listed some birds for sale. One of the most shocking listings, however, featured a baby on sale at the price of $111.

Other illicit listings featured guns, adult services and, in one particular case, a £5 bill which was going for $10.

Some witty users resorted to using ruses to set up their illicit offers by placing a legitimate item, such as a canned drink, next to the advertised weapon.

It was not long before the Marketplace earned the title of the Silk Road with public access.

Technical Glitch

Facebook has responded and condemned the posting of illicit offers on their newly-launched Marketplace.

The director of the firm’s product management, Mary Ku, blamed the torrent of uncensored listings on a technical glitch that prevented the reviewing of the postings before they were cleared for posting on the Marketplace.

The Silk Road appearance of the Facebook Marketplace was attributed to a technical issue that arose during the roll-out of Marketplace, which prevented the firm from reviewing and eliminating any offensive or illicit postings.

Ku admitted that the glitch was the main reason why people were able to take advantage of the platform in ways that violated their policies.

She pointed out that action was already being taken to fix the issues and that the company was closely monitoring their systems in order to detect and eliminate any listings that went against their policies.

Brazen Criminals

Facebook’s Marketplace has been compared to the Silk Road days after its launch due to the illicit postings that have been the cause of outrage from the public.
Facebook’s Marketplace has been compared to the Silk Road days after its launch due to the illicit postings that have been the cause of outrage from the public.

Darknet marketplaces such as the Silk Road thrived under the cover of anonymity offered by the highly secure Tor network among other encrypted platforms.

The Facebook Marketplace has however shown how online criminals will not hesitate to turn any mainstream platform into an instrument for their illicit activities, despite the lack of the protective cloak that surrounded the Silk Road before its demise.

Much like the Silk Road marketplace which was shut down by the FBI a few years back, the Marketplace was full of illicit listings only a few days after it was launched to the public.

The highly public and global profile of the social media platform did little to deter the posting of illicit offers on its Marketplace.

Despite the lack of levels of anonymity offered by platforms such as the Silk Road, users can still hide under made up pseudonyms with fake profiles, which is an effective way of concealing one’s identity.

Bad Start

The launch of the Facebook Marketplace has been met with a lot of skepticism, even more so now thanks to their shaky start.

The limited roll-out and the lack of a desktop version as of yet might greatly slow down progress, and it may take a while for the concept to gain any meaningful traction.

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Appeals Court Weighs Arguments in Silk Road Case

Prosecutors on the Silkroad case where 32-year-old Ross William Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison were questioned on the fairness of the judgment in a Manhattan federal appeals court on October 6.

Ulbricht was convicted for being the brains behind the dark web site Silkroad, which was best known for facilitating the sale of illicit drugs.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

In the oral arguments presided by three US Second Circuit Court of Appeals judges, numerous questions were posed concerning the even-handedness of the ruling, which was doled out by US District Judge Katherine Forrest in 2015.

Emotional Impact

life-in-prison
Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison

One of the members of the three-judge panel presiding over the oral arguments, Judge Christopher Droney, openly challenged the sentencing as he pointed out that it was bizarre for a middle-aged man with no prior criminal records and no direct ties to any drug trafficking activities to get slapped with such a hefty sentence.

His colleague, Jude Gerard Lynch suspected that testimonies from the parents of two Silkroad buyers who died from overdosing at the 2015 trial could have had a heavy emotional impact on the case and might have influenced the over-the-top sentencing.

According to Lynch, the testimonies in the 2015 trial of the Silkroad creator put an extraordinary thumb on the scales against Ulbricht. The judge added on to call the sentence “quite a leap.”

Promising Innovator with Misplaced Priorities

The 32-year-old Californian resident was arrested following the seizure of the dark web drug market by the authorities.In its 2-year operation, Silkroad had made over $200 million in sales using the encrypted digital currency, bitcoin.

In its 2-year operation, Silkroad had made over $200 million in sales using the encrypted digital currency, bitcoin.

Ross Ulbricht was accused of masterminding the Silkroad operation from which he amassed $18 million.

Supporters of the Silkroad mastermind painted Ulbricht as a young, insightful innovator who had been led astray by his youth.

His defense lawyer Josh Dratel called on the three-judge panel to view the extreme ruling for what it really was.

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Dratel painted Ulbricht

He called the life sentencing of the Silkroad mastermind unreasonable basing his remark on the fact that even murderers got a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Dratel went on to paint Ulbricht as the landlord of Silkroad who had no direct links to the activities that took place therein.

“No Ordinary Kingpin” – Prosecutor Eun Young Choi

Ross Ulbricht had been accused of hiring alleged assassins to get rid of enemies that threatened the continuity of Silkroad.

The three-judge panel saw this as more than just passive involvement and part of the reason why Ulbricht was tried as more than just the “landlord” of Silkroad.

Although none of the assassinations were carried out, prosecutor Eun Young Choi considered this a threat of violence that would have landed Ulbricht for life in prison even without the overdose deaths.

The prosecutor termed it unprecedented and went ahead to paint the Silkroad mastermind as an unusual kingpin.

Convicted Investigators

Ulbricht’s defense has also been trying to use the case of two federal agents who were convicted of bitcoin theft during the Silkroad investigation, as a pivot to overturn his conviction.

As things stand, there are no clear indications of when will be the judges’ ruling.

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Silk Road on American Greed TV Show

Recently, the popular CNBC TV show American Greed did a feature on Silkroad, the controversial digital drug dealing darknet market platform conceived and owned by Ross Ulbricht.

The American Greed episode was entirely focused on Ulbricht’s supposed pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts” and the operations of the illegal online utopia.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

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Silk Road On The TV Screen With American Greed

While a number of the references have been positive, the large majority have always painted a very negative picture of these platforms even though they are not always involved in illegal activity.

The Silkroad, however, cannot be given the benefit of the doubt. It is well known to have been complacent in criminal activity with Ross Ulbricht currently facing life in prison.

American Greed’s Verdict on Silkroad

The American Greed show can be complimented for taking a somewhat different and unscripted direction in its exposé’s.

It highlights key events or operations through the accounts of witnesses and expert opinions.

This approach enables the show to document current and past events that shed light on the dark sides of American capitalism including Silkroad that corporate media fails to cover.

According to the show, Silkroad was founded mainly to provide a secure and anonymous means for sellers and buyers to transact illegal goods and services online through the Tor network.

The Silkroad marketplace operated only through Bitcoins, the cryptocurrency that facilitates anonymous online trade in darknet markets.

Dread Pirate Roberts controlled nearly every aspect of the Silkroad marketplace.

Apparently, he acquired the computer infrastructure needed to set up the marketplace, maintained the official website and also set customer and vendor policies. Some of these policies included what could be sold on the Silkroad.

Ross Ulbricht was arrested in October 2013 by the FBI where he was accused of being Dread Pirate Roberts. The Silkroad website was then seized and taken down.

At the time, Dread Pirate Robert’s wealth was estimated to be millions of dollars in bitcoins.

Ulbricht is now facing a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He was found guilty on several counts including conspiracy to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to commit computer hacking, and money laundering.

Points of Contention

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American Greed unveils incredible true cases of crime and the lust for power…stories of people who do anything for money.

While Silkroad is definitely villainous from the law’s perspective, it does not exactly fit the profile of American Greed’s show.

The show usually focuses on the aspects of people or entities stealing money, something that DPR is not guilty of.

In fact, the instances of theft related to this case occurred against Silkroad itself, something the show failed to dwell on but should have.

It could be because of the fact that Carl Force, the person responsible for siphoning bitcoins from the Silkroad marketplace happens to be a former DEA agent.

Nonetheless, it was an informative alternative account and is bound to generate interesting comments in days to come.

It is definitely recommendable to any open-minded person seeking to know more about this underground online crime platform.

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First Vendor to Get Busted on Silk Road

Silkroad Vendor “shadh1”

Paul Howard aka “shadh1” was the first ever drug vendor with ties to Silkroad to get caught and sentenced after pleading guilty to a barrage of charges, one of which was drug trafficking.

At the time, Silkroad was touted to be the safest place to conduct drug deals being one of the numerous cryptomarkets that law enforcement found so elusive.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

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Paul Howard Was The First Silk Road Vendor To be Arrested.

Other than being the first arrest of a Silkroad drug dealer since its launch in 2011, this particular case stood out for a number of reasons, some of which were baffling, to say the least.

Silkroad was eventually shut down in 2013 after three rocky years of operation and a bunch of significant arrests.

The Details

According to details that were revealed during the trial, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Services had begun to intercept packages addressed to Howard and his wife’s home address.

In total, 12 mail packages which contained MDMA (better known as ecstasy or simply “e”) were seized by the authorities.

A level of ingenuity had been used to package the drugs as they were cleverly hidden in paraphernalia such as lighters, DVD players, and cards.

Curiously enough, the Silkroad vendor did not notice the thinning inflow of drugs since he kept placing more and more orders on Silkroad as later revealed during the trial.

It was not until the authorities had intercepted a total of 46.9 grams of MDMA that they decided to take the next course of action.

The Bust

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Australian Federal Police (AFP) first and very successful drug raid of a Silkroad dealer’s house.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) had enough to warrant a sweep of Howard’s home in Brunswick.

In what was the first and very successful drug raid of a Silkroad dealer’s house, the AFP managed to dig up an additional 50 grams of MDMA, 14.5 grams of cocaine and a whopping 989 grams of cannabis.

The drugs were in various stages of packaging as the police stumbled upon several zip-loc bags and scales at the scene.

Some of the drugs had already been packaged into sealed envelopes waiting for shipment.

The police then went on to perform a sweep of his vehicle where they unearthed what appeared to be innocuous sugar cubes that contained a substance which was unidentifiable at the time.

It was only after Howard’s sentencing that substance was identified as LSD. He was not charged with the possession of the drug.

Digital Evidence

The icing on the cake for the AFP was when they stumbled onto some very incriminating evidence on Howard’s phone and computers.

In addition to 148 text messages on his phone which irrevocably bound him to various drug trading activities and had numerous references to Silkroad, the police also found a number of pictures in his computers in which he could be seen handling the drugs.

In what many consider to be a humorous turn of events, his vehicle was also used as evidence against him owing to the fact that his license plate number was the same as his Silkroad moniker, “shadh1.”

Open and Shut Case

The prosecution had a field day cross-examining thousands of incriminating text messages dug up from the Silkroad vendor’s phone, some of which contained explicit information concerning his operations on Silkroad and the volume of drugs he had in possession.

Howard had little choice but to cooperate in the hopes of getting a more lenient sentencing.

He aided the police to search his computer where they managed to dig up a message Howard had posted on Silkroad when he began his illegal dealings.

In a nutshell, the message was a simple bio of who he was and what he did write in a very affable tone.

In addition to importing more than the required marketable quantity of border-controlled drugs into the country, Howard also pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking and the possession of over 30 controlled weapons.

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