Oh wow. Breaking Bad cyber-style.
The Silk Road was a marketplace for illegal drugs that existed only because of the Internet …
… and its handmaiden: Bitcoin.
It was run by someone under the handle of …
It had to be shut down:
And this is the guy who cracked the identity of Dread Pirate Roberts:
And he did it brilliantly:
Ulbricht was first connected to “Dread Pirate Roberts” by Gary Alford, an IRS investigator working with the DEA on the Silk Road case, in mid-2013. The connection was made by linking the username “altoid”, used during Silk Road’s early days to announce the website, and a forum post in which Ulbricht, posting under the nickname “altoid”, asked for programming help and gave his email address, which contained his full name. In October 2013, Ulbricht was arrested by the FBI while at the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library, and accused of being the “mastermind” behind the site.
To prevent Ulbricht from encrypting or deleting data on the laptop he was using to run the site as he was arrested, two agents pretended to be quarreling lovers. When they had sufficiently distracted him, a third agent took his computer away, and inserted a USB flash drive that cloned all the data on the hard drive. Agent Chris Tarbell presented Ulbricht the warrant for his arrest.
Ulbricht scored more money than Walter White did:
Ulbricht thought he was undetectable, like a cyber version of the fictional submarine Red October:
But he didn’t realize that all submarines start their journey on the surface of the water …
… where they can still be seen. And that’s what his altoid post was. His Red October in its port. Always in its port because the Internet Never Forgets.
And for all his to-the-barricades bravado …
… in the end he became a shitty little thug …
… all because a measly US$350,000 in Bitcoin was hacked from him (no doubt by American authorities who used it to frame and entrap one of his support staff).
If he had the sense to immediately shut down operations and walk the hell away after that incident, he might not have ever been caught. Remember this lesson: You Can’t Have ALL The Money.
Also: Don’t do drugs. Or help sell them. Or hire murderers.
A&E website: Silk Road: Drugs, Death and the Dark Web