Silk Road, owner indicted in New York
It appears the Federal Bureau of Investigation has finally cracked down on Silk Road, the underground marketplace where users could buy cocaine, heroin, meth, and more using the virtual currency Bitcoin. Journalist Brian Krebs has just published a purported copy of a complaint filed in the Southern District of New York against Ross Ulbricht, who is alleged to be the mastermind behind the site and the handle Dread Pirate Roberts.
Ulbricht is being charged with narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. The site, which is only accessible through the anonymizing Tor network, has been pulled and replaced with an FBI notice. The Silk Road forums are still operating, suggesting they were hosted on a different server.
The complaint is based on statements made by Christopher Tarbell, an FBI agent who has been tracking Silk Road out of the cybercrime division in New York. Tarbell acknowledges "undercover activity" by himself and other law enforcement agents, something users have suspected for a long time.
Law enforcement officers have made more than 100 purchases on the site since November of 2011, according to the complaint, and had the drugs shipped to New York for analysis. "Samples of these purchases have been laboratory-tested, and have typically shown high purity levels of the drug the item was advertised to be on Silk Road," Tarbell says.
Silk Road did $1.2 billion worth of business between February of 2011 and July of 2013, the FBI says, earning Dread Pirate Roberts $79.8 million in commissions using current Bitcoin rates. That number is difficult to pin down, however, because Bitcoin's price has fluctuated so much during that time. Silk Road had 957,079 registered users who did 1.2 million transactions between February of 2011 and July of 2013, the FBI says.
The FBI reportedly located the server in "a certain foreign country" on which the Silk Road website was hosted, but does not specify where. It appears from the complaint that the FBI was monitoring Dread Pirate Roberts' private messages through the site.
Dread Pirate Roberts once ordered a murder of a user who was attempting to blackmail him, the complaint alleges. A user named FriendlyChemist wanted $500,000 from Dread Pirate Roberts, or else thousands of Silk Road identities would be published. Dread Pirate Roberts solicited a hitman through Silk Road to "put a bounty on [FriendlyChemist's] head." When quoted a price of $150,000 to $300,000, Dread Pirate Roberts called the price high, saying he had a hit done "not long ago" for $80,000. The parties agreed on a price of $150,000, or 1,670 bitcoins, and the hitman reported the job was done. However, the FBI could not find any evidence of a related homicide and Ulbricht was not charged with murder.
Ross Ulbricht, who is accused of running Silk Road.
According to the complaint, Dread Pirate Roberts was actually Ross Ulbricht, a 29-year-old living in San Francisco. "I studied physics in college and worked as a research scientist for five years," Ulbricht says on his LinkedIn profile. "Now, my goals have shifted. I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and agression amongst mankind ... I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force."
Astonishingly, the complaint says that Ulbricht was confronted by Department of Homeland Security officials back in July after seizing a shipment of fake IDs that used Ulbricht's photo. Agents visited him at his San Francisco apartment, where Ulbricht declined to answer questions but told them that "hypothetically," anyone could order such documents on a website called Silk Road.
Ulbricht has an active social media presence, including a Facebook page, Google+ account, Stack Overflow account, defunct Twitter account, and YouTube channel, which seems surprising considering the cautiousness Dread Pirate Roberts supposedly used in covering his and Silk Road users' tracks. Ulbricht used an email address that contained his name to contact developers to work on a Bitcoin startup, and one of his public YouTube videos appears to include his phone number. The FBI quotes from some of these social media postings in its complaint.
The FBI used information from Comcast in the investigation and collaborated with US Customs and Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security. The site had more than 13,000 listings in the "drugs" category at the time it was shut down.
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That would be a worthy statement if it wasn't on HIS FUCKING LINKEDIN PROFILEUlbricht says on his LinkedIn profile. "Now, my goals have shifted. I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and agression amongst mankind ... I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force."
When are people going to realise that the internet is like a city. It has it's good spots, bad spots, and spots you really shouldn't walk through at night.Crimsonghost wrote:When are people going to realize the internet is NOT a safe place?
The internet is only as safe as you make it.
http://rt.com/usa/tor-anonymity-easily- ... rcher-537/Following revelations of mass online surveillance and encryption backdoors installed by the National Security Agency, some users have flocked to the Tor router service – although experts warn that it may not be as secure as once thought.
Tor, short for “The Onion Router,” has experienced a major uptick in subscribers since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details about the US government’s vast internet surveillance programs.
The service - which for years accepted funding from US government entities - has doubled its customer base, thanks to a growing number of people who wish to conceal their online communication, search queries, and home location from the government.
The most recent Snowden leak, which disclosed that the NSA uses backdoors to crack web encryption, may have alarmed Tor users by revealing that US and British intelligence agencies have also targeted the very anonymity services that Tor counts itself among. The NSA has allegedly spent hundreds of millions of dollars annually to “covertly influence” tech companies, and even planted undercover agents within major corporations.
Unfortunately for the thousands of people who rely on Tor, many of the devices they use to connect to its servers could still be infiltrated by the NSA. This is partly due to only 10 percent of Tor servers using its latest iteration which boasts stronger cryptography.
Rob Graham, the CEO of penetration testing firm Errata Security, told Ars Technica that he ran a “hostile” exit node on Tor and found that 76 percent of the nearly 23,000 connections he tracked used a form of the 1024-bit Diffie-Hellman key.
The NSA’s exact capabilities have yet to be made public, but most security experts assume the agency could easily crack the key Graham observed.
“Everyone seems to agree that if anything, the NSA can break 1024 RSA/DH keys,” Graham wrote in a blog post. “Assuming no ‘breakthroughs,’ the NSA can spend $1 billion on custom chips that can break such a key in a few hours. We know the NSA builds custom chips, they’ve got fairly public deals with IBM foundries to build chips.”
He also advised users to take responsibility for themselves by consistently updating their Tor software package and thoroughly reading through NSA documents that have been made public.
“Of course, this is just guessing about the NSA’s capabilities,” Graham continued. “As it turns out, the newer elliptical keys may turn out to be relatively easier to crack than people thought, meaning that older software may in fact be more secure.”
It has been made public that the Department of Defense provided Tor with $876,099 in 2012 – a sum large enough to make up 40 percent of the project’s $2 million budget. Other government donors included the US State Department and the National Science Foundation.
Though the NSA itself is housed under the Department of Defense, Tor’s executive director Andrew Lewman has said that the intelligence agency has not requested a backdoor into the system.
“The parts of the US and Swedish governments that fund us through contracts want to see strong privacy and anonymity exist on the Internet in the future,” Lewman explain in an email to customers, as quoted by The Washington Post. “Don’t assume that ‘the government’ is one coherent entity with one mindset.”
You mean, a bitcoin?Phigure wrote:god damn it i had like $100 in bitcoins on there
I deleted TOR first thing after hearing that the whole system was being raided by the feds and didn't look back. Maybe a bit much but I'd rather be safe than sorry.
shouldve seen it coming... the competing website, atlantis, shut down a few months ago
also while yes, tor isn't really secure, this doesnt really have anything to do with that since DPR was definitely using more than just tor to hide his identity. he got busted cause he was sloppy. apparently he posted on forums to advertise the silk road when it first started, and using the same account he made another post asking people to email to his personal address...
https://medium.com/p/d48995e8eb5aHow Dread Pirate Roberts (Silk Road) got caught.
1. Advertised Silk Road days after it’s launch on drug forums and bitcointalk.org with the username “altoid”. 8 months later he used this username looking for developers and included his personal email (email@example.com) in the message.
2. Using records from a seized webserver, the FBI agent subpoena’d his way back through a private VPN server to an IP address at a coffee shop on Laguna street in San Francisco. This happened to be 500 feet away from the house of one on Ross Ulbricht’s friends.
3. US Customs intercepted a package containing 9 pieces of counterfeit id. All 9 had photos of Ross Ulbricht with different names.
4. Ulbricht posted on Stack Overflow using his real name, asking “How can I connect to a Tor hidden service using curl in php?”. One minute later he changed his username to “frosty”, but a subpoena shows the original name.
SR doesn't hold bitcoins. Unless you put them in the hands of BitStamp, Mt. Gox, ... you still own your bitcoins. Edit: or does the SR hold bitcoins? Never bothered to check out SR whilst exploring the deeper tubesPhigure wrote:god damn it i had like $100 in bitcoins on there
Might be a good thing to cash out now if the exchange rate is going to go down because of this. Buy 'em again when they're low because the rate will restore itself I'm sure.
Feds Allege Silk Road's Boss Paid For Murders Of Both A Witness And A Blackmailer
When I interviewed the Dread Pirate Roberts, the persona behind the anonymous black market drug website known as Silk Road, he described his narcotics bazaar as a victimless libertarian experiment. But criminal complaints against Ross William Ulbricht, the 29-year-old entrepreneur who allegedly wore that pirate’s mask, now claim that he was also willing to leave a few bodies in his wake.
In two separate sets of charges released Wednesday following the seizure of the Silk Road’s domain and servers, federal prosecutors accused Ulbricht of not only conspiracies to sell drugs and launder money, but also of paying hitmen for the murder of two individuals, one who is described as attempting to blackmail Ulbricht after hacking a Silk Road vendor and learning the identities of thousands of the site’s users, and another employee of the Silk Road who Ulbricht allegedly feared might reveal him to law enforcement.
“DPR’s communications reveal that he has taken it upon himself to police threats to the site from scammers and extortionists,” reads an affidavit from FBI agent Christopher Tarbell, “and has demonstrated a willingness to use violence in doing so.”
In the one of the two cases, filed in a Maryland district court, a criminal complaint against Ulbricht describes how an undercover agent gained Ulbricht’s trust after communicating with him through the Dread Pirate Roberts account Ulbricht is thought to have used and conducting a $27,000 cocaine deal through the Silk Road. The agent later allegedly received a message from the Dread Pirate Roberts asking if he’d be willing to arrange the beating of a Silk Road employee who Roberts said had scammed users of the site and taken their bitcoins, the cryptographic currency used on Silk Road.
“I’d like him beat up, then forced to send the bitcoins he stole back. like sit him down at his computer and make him do it,” reads a message from the Roberts account, included in the complaint.
In a followup message, however, prosecutors say that Ulbricht asked to “change the order to execute rather than torture,” fearing that because the employee had spent time in prison, he might act as an informant against the Silk Road rather than risk being charged himself. In the messages reproduced in the complaint, Ulbricht is said to have added that “he had never killed a man or had one killed before, but it is the right move in this case.”
Communicating as Roberts, Ulbricht allegedly agreed to wire $40,000 to the undercover agent before the killing and another $40,000 afterwards. A month later, the agent sent staged photos that showed the employee being tortured, and later told Ulbricht that the man was dead. In his initial response to the torture photos, prosecutors write that Ulbricht responded that he was “a little disturbed,” but later is said to have added that “I don’t think I’ve done the wrong thing,” and that he “would call on [the agent] again at some point, though I hope I don’t have to.”
“I’m pissed that I had to kill him, but what’s done is done,” the complaint claims Ulbricht later wrote, a week before sending the second $40,000 installment via a service called Technocash. “I just can’t believe he was so stupid…I just wish people had some integrity.”
In a separate complaint filed in a New York district court, prosecutors accuse Ulbricht of arranging another murder just a month later, in March of 2013, this time in response to a would-be blackmailer who used the handle “FriendlyChemist.” In that case, according to FBI agent Tarbell’s affidavit, FriendlyChemist contacted Ulbricht and claimed to have hacked a vendor of the site to gain access to thousands of Silk Road users’ identities, which he would reveal unless he was paid $500,000, which he intended to use to pay a debt to his drug suppliers.
The complaint narrates how Ulbricht asked FriendlyChemist to put him in touch with his creditors, who were represented by another user known as “redandwhite.” Rather than pay FriendlyChemist’s debts, the FBI’s Tarbell says he instead convinced redandwhite to murder the middleman FriendlyChemist and start selling drugs directly on the Silk Road.
“I would like to put a bounty on his head if it’s not too much trouble for you,” Ulbricht allegedly wrote in late March, providing a name for FriendlyChemist and his location in the town of White Rock, British Columbia. “What would be an adequate amount to motivate you to find him? Necessities like this do happen from time to time for a person in my position.”
After haggling over the price–a conversation in which Tarbell says Ulbricht referenced his earlier “clean hit done for $80k,” the complaint says Ulbricht agreed to a price of 1,670 bitcoins, or $150,000.
Sometime between March 31st and April 5th, the complaint claims, Ulbricht received a photo from redandwhite showing a victim’s body along with a series of random numbers specified by Ulbricht written a piece of paper next to the corpse, seemingly as proof that the hit was real. “I’ve received the picture and deleted it,” reads Ulbricht’s response according to the complaint. “Thank you again for your swift action.”
The identities of both of these alleged murder victims, it’s worth noting, are strangely absent from either complaint against Ulbricht. In the Tarbell affidavit, the FBI agent notes that “I have spoken with Canadian law enforcement authorities, who have no record of there being any Canadian resident with the name DPR passed to redandwhite as the target of the solicited murder-for-hire. Nor do they have any record of a homicide occurring in White Rock, British Columbia on or about March 31, 2013.”
I’ve put in a request to the District of Maryland U.S. Attorney’s office for more information about the other alleged murder target, and I’ll update this post if I learn more.
In the wake of the takedown of Silk Road and news of Ulbricht’s arrest, the allegations of violence against him come as an extra shock to the market’s users. Under his apparent pseudonym as the Dread Pirate Roberts, Ulbricht wrote political manifestos on the Silk Road forums describing his human-rights-focused free market ethics. The site’s users generally held him in high esteem, describing him as a “hero,” ”our own Che Guevara” and “a soldier of justice and freedom.”
On Wednesday, some of those users expressed their bitter disbelief that the Dread Pirate Roberts had engaged in Hollywood-style assassination tactics. “We lost our site because our leader watched to many movies and was to big a nerd to not realize that every single time you do a murder for hire you get busted!” wrote one user under the handle RxKing. “What took SR down is DPR wanting to kill a rat. The saddest part is they could have just policed the site and removed any post the guy made if he in fact had information.”
Others wavered between doubting the murder stories and grudgingly accepting them. “The whole redandwhite story seems to be feds just doing work to justify NSA spying on him (no proof pure speculation) and it lead to much more,” wrote another user named NOTspacecase. “I wouldn’t even believe this shit if it weren’t for the fact all my friends are nerds and they would do some shit just like this. Hope the next [drug marketplace] to go mainstream doesn’t make the same mistakes.”
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