back to article Ahoy, scalliwags! FBI claims another haul of Silk Road booty - $26m of it

The US Federal Bureau of Investigations says it has seized a cache of Bitcoins worth some $26m, a treasure trove it claims belonged to accused Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht, aka the "Dread Pirate Roberts." The 29-year-old Ulbricht was arrested at a public library in a sleepy neighborhood of San Francisco earlier this …


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  1. Barry Rueger

    Tax on the Stupid

    Sigh. Repeat after me: Just because it's on the Internet doesn't mean that a) it isn't still illegal and b) the authorities won't lock up your ass for doing it.

    Just as it was stupendously inevitable and obvious that the government and media companies would hammer Napster, Pirate Bay, and other such enterprises, it was abundantly obvious that at some point they would step on Silk Road.

    Were these guys really so stupid that they didn't expect the feds to show up? For that matter, do their customers think that they won't also get nabbed?

    1. LarsG

      Seized $26 million dollars in Bitcoins?

      Have you got them in your safe? Are you holding them right now?

      Ok, now In a puff of smoke I will make a virtual transfer of them......


      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        I know what you're saying Lars, and you're right, but you could also look at most money transactions in the same way.

        If my internet bank lost all it's data, there would be no money. So it is also virtual, albeit a bit more secure than Bitcoin.

        1. Crazy Operations Guy

          "If my internet bank lost all it's data, there would be no money"

          Not really true. If the bank is in the US or EU, then there are laws requiring that every single transaction be required, logged and stored in multiple places and just re-assemble your account from the transaction logs. If they didn't, then they'd have to trust whatever is on your last bank statement (You are keeping these, right?).

          If there was a disaster of some sort that caused all of banks database to become unreadable and unrecoverable as well as destroy all the paper copies, I think you'd have bigger things to worry about than getting back whatever you have in the bank, like the black hole that is swallowing the earth or the alien invasion destroying anything it sees.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Re: Tax by the Stupid for the Stupid on those who know better. NT

      OK so there was some text. so sue me.

  2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    "Exactly how the bureau was able to trace the funds to Ulbricht and take control of them, however, the FBI official wouldn't say."

    That's what I'd like to hear. Grabbing a copy of an encrypted wallet means nothing if you don't have the passphrase and/or you can't transfer the funds to another account (wallet).

    Also, I'd be interested in hearing if anyone has developed a BitCoin wallet with a dead man switch. Don't log in and reset it (in police custody, for example) and it initiates a transaction to move the funds to some anonymous accounts.

    I could have sworn the wallet was in this pocket. Oh well .....

    1. Ole Juul

      the FBI official wouldn't say

      In fact he may be clueless. This could just be the FBI making headlines to help their case.

    2. Great Bu

      Come on !

      Be serious, this guy is basically a run of the mill computer nerd, they will have waterboarded the passphrase out of him in the first ten minutes.......

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, yes...

    Most of the rest of us who treat Bitcoin seriously use similar mechanisms. Frankly, everyone knows that Ross was a bit of a dim bulb, so his dickhead moves are no surprise to most folks...

  4. jai



  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems the perfect scenario for a bust using information provided by the NSA with the evidence subsequently retro-cleaned to hide NSA involvement ( ).

    Would be very surprised if Mr DPR's real identity wasnt already known loooong before he was arrested at the library, and over that period of time his operation monitored, with police / informants put into place to offer various services to him in the hope of gathering evidence of more serious crimes (like soliciting murder etc).

    Will probably be many mistruths and years before the complete story of how this whole investigation transpired, bound to be fascinating when it finally does come out.

    1. Aldous

      His ID was known as he ordered fake ID's that were stopped at the Canadian border in a "random" search. He was even interviewed by homeland security and continued running silkroad and giving interviews to Forbes after words.

      Of course now they had fake ID's being imported they had the probable cause to do whatever tapping they like. He made lots of silly mistakes early on that allowed him to be tracked but what was especially stupid is that he ramped up his public image AFTER being questioned on a different charge.

  6. Stan 2

    Is this backed by an FBI press release? The Silk Road closure story only has 2 news sources that refer to each other behind it, the FBI never published any statements or documentation on the case or on this one. This reddit thread has more:

    1. Aldous

      The starter of that thread was also claiming the arrest was fake and that it is all a big scam orchestrated by the silk road admins. Chances are he also believes they used the money to pull of 9/11 using there time portal !

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Stan 2

    Crying conspiracy nut doesn't count as proof the FBI had any involvement in either this or the silk road closure. How hard can it be to verify a story that was all over the headlines? Proof or it didn't happen.

    EDIT: The article has been edited to include information on the arrest, I'm still sceptical about many points in this case but respect the registers integrity.

  9. JeevesMkII

    How do you confiscate bitcoins anyway?

    It seems weird this guy let his bitcoins be confiscated. How hard would it be to keep the keys strongly encrypted and just claim you forgot the password? Sure, you're going to get a contempt of court rap added to your sentence, but when you get out you're going to have several million completely untraceable dollars. Seems like a reasonable trade to me.

    1. Steve Knox

      Re: How do you confiscate bitcoins anyway?

      How hard would it be to keep the keys strongly encrypted[1] and just claim you forgot the password[2]?

      [1] Assumes the encryption method used is strong.

      [2] Assumes the password is strong.

      The FBI, the NSA, and the CIA do cooperate, and between them have quite a bit of experience cracking encryption and passwords.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong country

    Ulbricht's biggest mistake was to be based in the USA, in other regions he could easily have bribed his way out of jail.

    I know one guy who killed a policeman in a traffic accident in Africa. (It was not his fault) They used to let him out of clink each day to have his dinner in a hotel. Eventually he did not return but skipped the country instead.

    1. Benjol

      Re: Wrong country

      The difference is that in other regions you're quite likely to get shot by the policemen.

      Oh, wait, you said he was in the US? Sorry, forget what I just said!

    2. Medixstiff

      Re: Wrong country

      I think Kim Dotcom would beg to differ about your living outside the USA comment.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cry me a river

    As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

  12. Outcast !!!

    What FBI stands for?

    Federal Bitcoin Institute.

  13. Will 28

    Innocent until proven that your defence lawyer represented someone else we don't like

    Seriously guys, why the final paragraph about his representative? The man may have represented people that may have been bad people (I don't even know if those accused were guilty), but is it really fair to tar a man with that? I find it unlikely that he was able to do any substantial research into his representation, and just used a lawyer he was advised to.

    1. dan1980

      Re: Innocent until proven that your defence lawyer represented someone else we don't like

      Granted, though I find it equally unlikely that he did not have existing legal representation and the wording seems to suggest that.

      How I read it was that he had a public defender for previous charges and after that was resolved, decided to retain a lawyer of his choosing should he need one in the future. That is, he could see there would be potential legal problems in the future and so hired a lawyer to be prepared for that eventuality.

  14. John Tserkezis

    "Now an anonymous FBI source has told Forbes that the bureau has confiscated another 144,000 Bitcoins and that it believes these funds also belong to Ulbricht."


    Believes? Really? Good to see the FBI doesn't need firm proof to do anything, otherwise they'd be left with doing nothing but eating jelly donuts.

  15. P. Lee

    Ah THERE it is!

    Right at the end.

    'E's a terrorist, innit?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nobody said he was smart

    Terrorism: bad

    Drugs: bad

    Undermining the US dollar: unthinkable!!

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