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Oct 8, 2013 - Package of 9 Fake IDs leads to closure of "Silk Road"

Sean Trundy

FBI Seizes and Shuts-Down "Silk Road" a leading dark market website.

A Federal complaint revealed by the U.S. CyberCrimeAttorney, Southern District of New York, says that, "From February 6, 2011 to July 23, 2013 there were approximately 1,229,465 transactions completed on the site. Revenue figures cited in the complaint approximated the value of the transactions over this period are equivalent to "roughly $1.2 billion (USD) in revenue and $79.8 million (USD) in commissions."

When the FBI shuttered Silk Road, they were able to seize nearly 26,000 bitcoins worth approximately $3.6 million. It marks the largest Bitcoin seizure in history.

Silk Road was an online dark market located on the Deep Web. It was operated as a Tor hidden service, which directs Internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer network consisting of more than three thousand relays to conceal a user's location or usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. The use of Bitcoins as the means of setttlement for transactions was intended to enable buyers and sellers to remain 100% anonymous.

Silk Road launched in February 2011.

“During its two and a half years in operation, Silk Road has been used by several thousand drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to well over a hundred thousand buyers,” the indictment states. It said that 600,000 bitcoins changed hands on the site, which at current exchange rates translates to about $1.2 billion.

In addition to narcotics, the government complaint alleges, Silk Road listed fake drivers’ licenses, counterfeit currency, hacking services and much more.

On October 2, 2013, Ross William Ulbricht, alleged by the FBI to be the owner of Silk Road, was arrested in San Francisco on suspicion of drug trafficking, soliciting murder, facilitating computer hacking, and money laundering.

According to the Washington Post, Federal authorities identified Ulbricht, believed to be the person Silk Road users know as Dread Pirate Roberts, after a routine border search of a package that contained nine counterfeit IDs. The package was shipped from Canada to an address in San Francisco. When the government visited the San Francisco address, they found Ulbricht.

"Can't Be the only one out there"

Questioned on the guaranty of anonymity, a leading cybercrime investigations agent for the U.S. Secret Service said that the government is aware of and actively monitoring "dozens" of dark-market websites.  He said that, among the items he had heard of being sold on such sites includes:

  • Bank logins,

  • rental of botnet to conduct SPAM attacks,

  • credit card images (front and back),

  • embossed card blanks,

  • holograms,

  • credit card skimmers,

  • “data dumps” from 10 credit cards for $50

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