Bitcoin Silk Road Mastermind Pleads Guilty

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James Zhong, a Silk Road scammer, admitted to stealing 50,000 BTC from the Silk Road darknet market in 2012. Zhong allegedly generated 140 transactions that prompted the Silk Road withdrawal processing system to deposit 50,000 BTC into his nine accounts, according to the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ).

Following the seizure of about 50,676 BTC (worth $3.3 billion) from Zhong’s Gainesville, Georgia house by law enforcement in November 2021, the defendant entered a guilty plea. Each of Zhong’s Silk Road accounts received between 200 and 2000 BTC in deposits. Then, within seconds of the deposits, he made a series of quick withdrawals. Then, he moved this money from the darknet marketplace and combined it into two significant sums.

Zhong got 50,000 BCH when the Bitcoin blockchain hard-forked in 2017 to create Bitcoin Cash. He used international exchanges to convert BCH to Bitcoin. His Bitcoin holdings after this conversion, which the DoJ refers to as the “Crime Proceeds,” reached 53,500 BTC.

The wallet keys for 50,591 of the 53,500 BTC were discovered in a safe beneath Zhong’s home in 2021, along with a computer board. In addition, they seized 25 actual bitcoins, over $600,000 in cash, and a number of precious metals. Later, Zhong voluntarily gave up an extra 1,004 bitcoins.

Zhong will be sentenced on February 22, 2023, and he might spend up to 20 years in prison for his crime.

The Increase in Silk Road Thefts

Ross Ulbricht, a convicted felon, launched the darknet marketplace Silk Road. Between 2011 and 2013, it traded illegal goods for Bitcoin. In 2015, Ulbricht was found guilty by a jury and given a life sentence. Authorities have already cracked down on at least two thefts from the platform, the most recent of which is Zhong’s.

Only 174,000 BTC (or around $105 million) of the 614,000 BTC commissions made during the illicit platform’s two-year operation were represented by cryptographic keys when Ulbricht was apprehended in a San Francisco library.

 

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Azeez Mustapha

Azeez Mustapha is a trading professional, currency analyst, signals strategist, and funds manager with over ten years of experience within the financial field. As a blogger and finance author, he helps investors understand complex financial concepts, improve their investing skills, and learn how to manage their money.