back to article Uncle Sam's legal eagles hope to get their claws on $1bn in Bitcoin 'stolen by hacker' from dark-web souk Silk Road

The US Department of Justice on Thursday filed a legal request to formally take control of more than $1bn in Bitcoin (BTC) generated from the sales of illicit goods at Silk Road. It is believed the crypto-coins were stolen from the dark-web market at some point, and now the Feds want to take ownership of the haul. Between …

  1. LucasNorth

    A win for the good guys. Bitcoin is cancer

    1. HildyJ Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Like the election, whether or not it's a win remains to be seen.

      Bitcoin is not a cancer but it's not as anonymous or secure as it's reputed to be once a government takes an interest in you.

  2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Romper Room does a Jackanory

    Ulbricht became aware of Individual X’s online identity and threatened Individual X for return of the cryptocurrency to Ulbricht."

    The government contends that Individual X failed to return the funds and kept the cryptocurrency without spending it. The complaint goes on to state that on Tuesday, Individual X signed an agreement with the US Attorney's Office in Northern California to surrender the hacked funds.

    If you believe that you'll believe anything ...... and that is you pwnd for life. Individual X is a figment of imagination and an extremely convenient dodgy government patsy to boot, don't you think?

  3. Def Silver badge

    Whatever happened to Finders Keepers? :D

    That deal works out to a 1.5% “finders fee”. Proving once again that, in the right circumstances, crime does pay.

  4. Securitymoose

    1 billion? Worth diddly squat

    It is only worth that much if you are going to spend it. What are the DoJ going to buy with it? Arms, drugs, new desks? Or should they flog it off cheap and take the bottom out of the market? Otherwise it's just load of big numbers that cost nothing to make (if you already had the hardware).

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: 1 billion? Worth diddly squat

      In the past, the DoJ have auctioned off seized Bitcoin to the public.

      > Otherwise it's just load of big numbers that cost nothing to make (if you already had the hardware).

      Cost nothing to make if you have the hardware *and a source of energy that costs you zero*.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But who is Individual X?

    Reading back through the Register's excellent coverage of the whole Silk Road saga, a few possibilities spring to mind:

    1) The (former) Secret-Service agent who was locked up for nicking Bitcoin off Silk Road while investigating them.

    2) The (former) DEA agent who was also locked up for nicking Bitcoin off Silk Road.

    3) The Silk Road admin they locked up a few years ago.

    Offering a release from prison (and maybe even a new identity) in return for surrendering this wallet might be enough for any of them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But who is Individual X?

      My guess none of the above, wouldnt 1 + 2 be covered by double jeopardy and if they missed that first time round would open doors for appeals for a botched investigation, but more likely some skiddy grassed up by Ulbricht, probably for some appeal or leniency on his own plight, "it just grew out of control, but what if i help you get a really nice slush fund together, cus you see theres this guy, little bobby tables who stole some coins this one time...."

      Feds probably contacted X and explained surrender them and you get off (as you have only acted as a bank account with an impressive interest rate, the "theft" is a non starter as its like calling cops on your stash getting stolen, and your an otherwise law abiding citizen, wouldnt it be a shame if everyone knew you were involved with SR, thats your presumably IT carrier down the shitter), otherwise profits of crime, will say your a co-conspirator and we will throw the book at you (even if they didnt spend their gains), would assume that would be under organised crime laws as well...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But who is Individual X?

      > Offering a release from prison

      I hadn't thought of that possibility. My bet was on law enforcement offering to put away the rubber hose.

  6. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "..totaling 173,991 BTC, which was worth about $33.6m at the time or about $2.6bn at the current exchange rate."

    The face that since 2013 the value has rocketed over 70 times of what it was in 2013 that is an indication that the bitcoin bubble is just waiting to burst. Who is actually going to spend bitcoins on buying goods or services when you can just keep holding onto them if their value keeps increasing every year?

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      The US makes a lot of money from drug sales, sure they are illegal but they are very profitable too. So what will Uncle Sam do if it gets the money before January 20th? Buy the president a new golf cart?

      1. Dr Dan Holdsworth
        Pirate

        I would suppose that the US government takes the same view of the profits from illegal enterprises that our very own cuddly HMRC does, namely that any business, regardless of legality, absolutely MUST pay tax on all profits. Many's the pimp, madame or supplier of illegal pharmaceuticals who has fallen afoul of the government assessing them for unpaid taxes and then claiming these taxes out of their assets.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          So unlike Poland then

          It might have changed now but a few years ago prostitutes were not taxed on their income, as that would have constituted pimping, which is/was illegal in Poland.

          But, last I heard, you had to be prepared to present a list of clients if the tax office demanded it. This wasn't done as a veiled attempt at obstructing bona fide sex workers, but to deal with the large number of independent professionals (architects, lawyers, etc.) who rather improbably claimed to be part-time prostitutes.

      2. Chairman of the Bored

        A new golf cart?

        I don't know how much those cost but a billion may not get as much for the president these days as one may hope...

        Apparently getting a tug n blow from Stormy Daniels cost $420k, including overhead for lawyers. Of that I think something like $130k went to Stormy.

        So $1e9 only buys you about 2381 blowjobs. That's only about 6 1/2 year supply.

        Dollars just aren't worth what they used to be.

  7. -tim
    Facepalm

    Proceeds of crime?

    These coins are forever contaminated by proceeds of crime laws. Accepting or spending it is likely a crime and sending it over telecommunications infrastructure is "wire fraud" in the USA. Even if the US Feds launder it, it may not be clean at the state level not to mention the international implications.

    So what happens to contaminated bit coins? They can't be removed and it may be illegal to use them or any of their digital descendants forever.

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