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The United States government confiscated an unprecedented $ 1 billion worth of bitcoins linked to the Silk Road criminal market.
Law enforcement seized thousands of bitcoins this week in what the Justice Department said was the largest cryptocurrency seizure in agency history..
«Silk Road was the most famous online crime marketplace of its time, California’s Northern District Attorney said Thursday. David Anderson. – The successful prosecution of the Silk Road founder in 2015 left the billion dollar question open. Where did the money go?».
Silk Road allowed people to buy and sell drugs and other illegal goods, as well as use bitcoins to fund these transactions anonymously. The darknet marketplace was closed by the US federal government in 2013, and its founder Ross ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison two years later.
Bitcoin has since become a major investment vehicle in recent years. On Thursday, its value exceeded $ 15,000, reaching its highest level since January 2018. Cryptocurrency has more than doubled since the beginning of the year.
Elliptic, a London-based think tank, said this week that it had spotted a massive Bitcoin movement triggered by the Justice Department. The company said that 69,369 bitcoins, worth about $ 1 billion, were withdrawn from a bitcoin wallet that had the fourth largest balance in the world.. Tom robinson, co-founder and chief scientist of Elliptic, said the Bitcoin movement «may represent Ulbricht or a Silk Road seller moving his funds», but what «it seems unlikely that Ulbricht will be able to conduct a Bitcoin transaction from prison».
US intelligence agencies were able to track these illegal transactions through the IRS unit that specializes in tracking virtual currency transactions. It is reported that IRS agents were able to identify 54 new Bitcoin transactions carried out by Silk Road, which appear to be proceeds from illegal activities. The agency was then able to trace this money to a specific Bitcoin address, which apparently pointed to the Silk Road funds..
While Silk Road was in operation, thousands of drug dealers and other illegal service sellers used it to distribute drugs, illegal goods and services to more than 100,000 buyers. When it was shut down seven years ago, Silk Road had nearly 13,000 offers to buy drugs and even more offers of illegal services such as computer hacking and contract killings. The total turnover of these services to more than 9.5 million bitcoins. Silk Road allegedly used a process that made it difficult to track individual cryptocurrency transactions.
However, the confiscation may be temporary. US authorities still need to prove their case to a federal judge before they can permanently take control of bitcoin funds.