US Seizes $3.3 billion worth of BTC from Silk Road Dark Web

The now-defunct Silk Road dark web marketplace was hacked in 2012, leading to the seizure of 50,676 Bitcoin in November 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ).

When it was uncovered last year, the bitcoin, which was acquired in 2012 and valued at $3.36 billion, was worth $1.04 billion. In addition, $661,900 in cash, 25 Casascius coins with a value of almost 174 Bitcoin, and gold- and silver-colored bars were found.

It’s also one of the biggest cryptocurrency seizures to history, trailing only the $3.36 billion worth of bitcoin seized in early February in connection with the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange hack in 2016.

According to the Justice Department, the seizure was carried out on November 9, 2021, as a result of a search order being executed at James Zhong’s residence in the American state of Georgia. The article added that the tokens’ keys were also discovered on a single-board computer that was “submerged under blankets in a popcorn tin hidden in a bathroom cupboard” and in an underground floor safe.

On November 4, the 32-year-old also admitted guilt to one count of wire fraud, which he had illegally committed in September 2012 when he stole the cryptocurrency from Silk Road. The maximum term for the offense is 20 years in prison.

Tyler Hatcher, the in-charge IRS-CI special agent, said Mr. Zhong “implemented a sophisticated strategy aimed to steal bitcoin from the infamous Silk Road bazaar.” “After pulling off the crime, he tried to conceal his loot through a series of intricate transactions, hoping to heighten the mystery surrounding the “darknet” in the process.”

Prior to being shut down in 2013, Silk Road was a thriving darknet market for illegal drugs and other goods and services, allowing criminals to use it to launder money. It debuted in February of 2011.

Ross William Ulbricht, the organization’s creator, was given a life sentence in prison in 2015, while Gary Davis, an Irishman who served as one of its managers, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison in July 2019.

According to court records, Zhong carried out a plot to defraud Silk Road in September 2012 by setting up nine false identities on the marketplace and initiating over 140 transactions to steal more than 50,000 Bitcoin before transferring the money to several wallets under his control.

Zhong is thought to have made a series of withdrawals quickly in order to deceive Silk Road’s processing systems into releasing more cryptocurrency than was initially deposited. Each of the nine accounts had an initial deposit that varied between 200 and 2,000 Bitcoin.

In addition, when bitcoin underwent a hard fork in 2017, Zhong got 50,000 BCH, which were later swapped for an extra 3,500 BTC.

The DoJ reported that Zhong “started voluntarily surrendering to the Government more Bitcoin that Zhong had access to and had not dissipated beginning in or around March 2022.” Zhong voluntarily sent over a total of 1,004.14621836 extra Bitcoin.

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