A few days ago, a company that tracks the movement of “dirty money” has revealed that 69,369 bitcoins – worth just under a billion dollars of today’s money – has started moving. The reason why it’s labeled as “dirty money” is that the wallet that had been holding it is linked to Silk Road.
The online black-market was shut down by the FBI in 2013, and all the seized Bitcoins have been sold at auctions. However, there are some crypto assets with connections to Silk Road that are still out there, including the ones that have recently made their move. No one knows who owns those BTCs, but one thing is certain – the wallet from which they were moved had the 4th-highest BTC balance in the entire world.
This fact has led to speculations that the Bitcoins in question might belong to the founder of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, or some of his close associates. Considering that they’ve all been in prison for years, there’s another possible explanation – cybercriminals might have gotten ahold of the wallet.
Silk Road’s BTC Assets
As a result, the trades conducted over Silk Road were almost absolutely anonymous, which made the platform a safe haven for criminals. At one point, about 70% of all trades made over Silk Road revolved around illicit goods and services.
This prompted the FBI to act, and after months of a large-scale investigation, the bureau managed to take down the darknet website. Its founder, Ross Ulbricht was arrested, and eventually sentenced to life in prison. He was sentenced in 2015 as a first-time offender, and his appeals have been rejected on several occasions. As of today, the campaign for his release/sentence reduction is ongoing.
About 174,000 Bitcoins were seized from Ulbricht, which, at the time, were worth about $105 million. However, it’s estimated that the total commission earned by the marketplace was much, much higher.
Some projections are that Silk Road had earned about 614,000 BTCs before being shut down. In today’s money, that figure is worth about $6 billion. If that’s true, the question is who’s in possession of those crypto assets?
If the answer is Ulbricht, he wouldn’t be able to move them from one wallet to another, the reason being that he’s locked up in a high-security federal prison.
Why Criminals Love Cryptos?
Bitcoin, as well as all the other cryptocurrencies, are practically uncrackable. And that what makes them so popular in the criminal underworld. Most of those who had bought/sold illicit goods and services at Silk Road before 2013 have managed to escape the hand of justice. It’s because the law was incapable of tracing their BTC transactions. Those who did get caught have other things to blame for their demise.
Bitcoin is likely to remain uncrackable throughout the 2020 decade. The reason is that in order to crack Bitcoin, one needs the victim’s 16-character public key, as well as their private key. The latter is practically impossible to figure out, even with the use of the world’s most powerful computers.
With a regular computer, one would need about 0.65 billion billion years to crack bitcoin. Still, with all the advances in technology, and the development of quantum computers, the cracking time could be reduced significantly. In a few decades’ time, a quantum computer could be able to crack bitcoins within minutes. Still, it’s not only computers that improve over time – Bitcoin does to.
And it’s not just Bitcoin. There are plenty of other cryptocurrencies that are even more secure than BTC. Take Monero, for example. The fact that the IRS is giving a $625,000 bounty for cracking Monero shows how tough to break this crypto actually is.