US authorities announce conviction linked to Bitcoin stolen from Silk Highway

The USA Lawyer’s Workplace for the Southern District of New York has introduced that a person has pled responsible to wire fraud expenses linked to “unlawfully obtained” Bitcoin from the Silk Highway market in 2012.

In a Nov. 7 announcement, the U.S. Justice Division stated James Zhong pled responsible to wire fraud expenses associated to executing a scheme to steal roughly 50,676 Bitcoin (BTC) from Silk Highway. Authorities seized the Bitcoin from Zhong’s dwelling within the state of Georgia in November 2021, at which era the full worth of the crypto was roughly $3.36 billion.

“James Zhong dedicated wire fraud over a decade in the past when he stole roughly 50,000 Bitcoin from Silk Highway,” stated U.S. Lawyer Damian Williams. “For nearly ten years, the whereabouts of this huge chunk of lacking Bitcoin had ballooned into an over $3.3 billion thriller.”

Williams cited “state-of-the-art cryptocurrency tracing” and “good old school police work” within the authorities monitoring down and recovering the stolen BTC. IRS particular brokers raided Zhong’s property, discovering greater than 50,491 BTC in a flooring protected and “on a single-board laptop that was submerged underneath blankets in a popcorn tin” along with one other hoard of greater than 11 BTC, $661,900 in money, and 25 Casascius cash value roughly 174 BTC.

“This case exhibits that we gained’t cease following the cash, regardless of how expertly hidden, even to a circuit board within the backside of a popcorn tin.”

In accordance with the Justice Division, Zhong’s scheme concerned creating 9 accounts on {the marketplace} to hide his id and triggering greater than 140 transactions briefly order “to trick Silk Highway’s withdrawal-processing system” to ship the BTC. He was in a position to arrange the accounts with “the naked minimal of knowledge” and didn’t conduct any listings or gross sales. After withdrawing extra BTC than he had deposited, Zhong moved the funds out of Silk Highway and “consolidated them into two high-value quantities.”

“For instance, on September 19, 2012, Zhong deposited 500 Bitcoin right into a Silk Highway pockets,” stated the Justice Division. “Lower than 5 seconds after making the preliminary deposit, Zhong executed 5 withdrawals of 500 Bitcoin in fast succession — i.e., inside the similar second — leading to a internet achieve of two,000 Bitcoin.”

Associated: DoJ seizes $3.6B in crypto and arrests two in reference to 2016 Bitfinex hack

Silk Highway, defunct for nearly ten years, initially allowed customers to purchase and promote illicit items reminiscent of weapons and stolen bank card data. Nevertheless, {the marketplace} drew the eye of the FBI as many listings have been for unlawful medication. 

Silk Highway creator Ross Ulbricht was arrested for his position in 2013 and is at present serving two life sentences with out the potential for parole. Zhong may resist 20 years in jail for wire fraud. He’s anticipated to be sentenced in February 2023.