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Tag: Bitcoin

DOJ Recovers $2.3M Worth of Cryptocurrency Paid in Ransom in Pipeline Hack

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department seized more than $2.3 million worth of cryptocurrency that was used as a ransom payment to hackers who targeted the Colonial Pipeline in a cyber attack last month. 

The ransomeware attack forced the nation’s largest pipeline to shut down its operations on May 7. 

Pipeline officials paid a hacker group known as DarkSide nearly 64 bitcoins in ransom. 

The DOJ’s newly created Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force  recovered the cryptocurrency, a rare feat. 

“Following the money remains one of the most basic, yet powerful tools we have,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said in a statement. “Ransom payments are the fuel that propels the digital extortion engine, and today’s announcement demonstrates that the United States will use all available tools to make these attacks more costly and less profitable for criminal enterprises. We will continue to target the entire ransomware ecosystem to disrupt and deter these attacks. Today’s announcements also demonstrate the value of early notification to law enforcement; we thank Colonial Pipeline for quickly notifying the FBI when they learned that they were targeted by DarkSide.”

The task force managed to identify a virtual currency wallet used by the hackers and obtained a “private key” for the specific address. 

“There is no place beyond the reach of the FBI to conceal illicit funds that will prevent us from imposing risk and consequences upon malicious cyber actors,” FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate said. “We will continue to use all of our available resources and leverage our domestic and international partnerships to disrupt ransomware attacks and protect our private sector partners and the American public.” 

Former Secret Service Agent Who Stole Bitcoins During Probe Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison

bitcoin_bigBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former Secret Service agent who illegally accessed the now-defunct Silk Road website and stealing bitcoin was sentenced Monday to nearly six years in prison and ordered to pay $1 million for the siphoned currency, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

Shaun Bridges, 33, pleaded guilty to felony charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice.

Officials pegged the value of the bitcoin at $350,000 when the currency was stolen.

Bridges sold the currency for $820,000.

Bridges’ attorneys urged the judge to sentence him to three years in prison.

Former Secret Service Agent Pleads Guilty to Stealing $820K Worth of Bitcoin During Silk Road Probe

bitcoin_bigBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former Secret Service agent accused of pocketing $820,000 worth of Bitcoin money while investigating the Silk Road online drug marketplace has pleaded guilty to money laundering and obstruction of justice.

Tech Times reports that then-Secret Service Agent Shaun Bridges admitted Monday to stealing the Bitcoin money and placing it in a personal account.

Bridges said he stole about 20,000 Bitcoin in 2013.

Another federal agent, Carl Force, also admitted to stealing the digital currency several month ago.

“This case shows we will act quickly to hold wrongdoers accountable, no matter who they are,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said.

Ex-Secret Service Agent Pleads Guilty to Stealing 820K from Silk Road Seizure

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former Secret Service agent has pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin during an investigation of Silk Road, the Examiner.com reports. 

The former agent, Shaun W. Bridges, was accused of skimming $820,000 from the Silk Road seizure and was charged.

The computer crime expert was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, running a criminal enterprise and money laundering.

Authorities said Bridges transferred about 20,000 bitcoin from the Silk Road accounts.

DEA Agent Carl Force also is accused of stealing thousands of bitcoins during the road.

Other Stories of Interest

 

Federal Agents Charged with Stealing Bitcoins While Investigating Website

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two former federal agents are accused of stealing bitcoins while investigating the online drug marketplace Silk Road.

The Huffington Post reports that Carl Force, 46, a former DEA special agent, and Shaun Bridges, 32, an ex-special agent with the Secret Service, were arrested and charged, the Justice Department announced Monday.

Force has been charged with wire fraud, money laundering, conflict of interest and theft of government money. Bridges faces charges of wire fraud and money laundering.

Force, whose salary was roughly $15,000 a year, is accused of putting bitcoings into his personal account to pay off “mortgage, a government thrift savings plan loan, and wrote several very large checks for tens of thousands of dollars,” the affidavitt reads.

Bridges and Force worked on the plan together, authorities said.

Other Stories of Interest


U.S. Plans to Auction Off Nearly 30,000 Bitcoins Seized in Crackdown on Online Marketplace for Illicit Drugs

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. government plans to unload nearly 30,000 bitcoins – valued at $17.3 million – during an auction later this month after seizing the currency as part of an FBI crackdown last year on an illicit online marketplace for drugs, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Some of the bitcoins seized from Silk Road  will be auctioned off over a 12-hour period on June 27. Bids can be placed on the U.S. Marshals website.

The Journal reports that the sale of so many bit coins could devalue the digital currency.

The value of bitcoins have fluctuated wildly after reaching an all-time high of $1,166 in December. The value hit a low of $344.24 on April 11 and has bounced back to $583, the Journal wrote.

Ross Ulbricht, the alleged administrator of Silk Road, was arrested in October by the FBI. He faces trial on Nov. 2.

How Authorities Tracked Down Alleged ‘Silk Road’ Founder

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Authorities knew him as the “Dread Pirate Roberts” and the founder of the largest online marketplace for illegal drugs.

His sophisticated site, called Silk Road, made it nearly impossible for authorities to trace him or the users because of an encryption network and digital currency called “bitcoin.”

But FBI agents finally tracked down the alleged founder, 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht, after he posted his Gmail address online, CNN reports.

Experts were able to track him down at a San Francisco library.

The site allegedly sold drugs, fake IDs, guns and even hitmen.

FBI Busts Alleged Mastermind Behind Underground Marketplace for Drugs Online

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Investigators have struggled for two years to stop an online, underground marketplace from selling more than $1 billion in cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and other illicit drugs in exchange for a virtual currency called Bitcoin, The Verge reports.

But now it appears the FBI has snagged the mastermind, Ross Ulbricht, who is being charged with narcotics trafficking, money laundering and computer hacking.

The site, called Silk Road, was only accessible through a special network.

According to The Verge, law enforcement bought more than 100 packages of drugs and had them sampled.

“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, FBI Agent Christopher Tarbell told The Verge.