There has been a lot of chatter in the past few months about the Silk Road. It sounds like the name of a movie or a good book but as it turns out anyone who may have thought that was dead wrong. Silk Road was an anonymous Internet open market for illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine and criminal activities such as murder for hire.
Silk Road Arrest
U.S. law enforcement officials have arrested its suspected owner, Ross William Ulbricht, 29, known online as “Dread Pirate Roberts,” in San Francisco, according to an article in Reuters. He was charged with one count each of narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.
Silk Road was truly the most sophisticated and widespread criminal marketplace on the Internet. It was frequented regularly by thousands of drug dealers that would sell illicit drugs. In addition, the site which has been around since 2011offered lessons on how to hack ATM machines, contact lists for black market connections and counterfeiters, and guns and hit men for hire.
Silk Road Uses Bitcoin
With close to a million registered users, the illegal transactions were conducted using the digital currency Bitcoin. Drugs and services could be ordered online such as buying or selling drugs and have them shipped to any address. Undercover investigators were able to make more than 100 purchases.
Ulbricht would use computers at Internet cafes to get access to website servers. Many tech tools were used to conceal the location of the servers and the identities of the administrators and users. At one point Ulbricht ordered a hit on a user that he was having conflict with. Allegedly, that user was trying to blackmail Ulbricht.
Officials seized $3.6 million worth of bitcoin on Silk Road through the digital wallets that Silk Road used to store bitcoin. The Silk Road website generated sales of more than 9.5 million bitcoin, equal to $1.2 billion. This was not Silk Road’s first arrest. This online marketplace is hosted on an assembly of websites that are not indexed by search engines and consequently hidden from public view, hence called the “Deep Web.” Users can only gain access to this by downloading special software called Tor, which anonymizes web traffic. It is a very complex system that is fast gaining popularity.