The creator of now-defunct black market drug bazaar Silk Road may have used Bitcoin payments to order a murder-for-hire.
The FBI recently closed the website and seized $29 million from San Francisco currency trader Ross Ulbricht. He has been charged with narcotics trafficking, money laundering, computer hacking, and soliciting a murder-for-hire.
Following his arrest Ulbricht denied that he was the owner-operator of the online website. The websites owner went by the name Dread Pirate Roberts. He is currently awaiting extradition to New York City where he will face criminal charges.
The closure of Silk Road quickly showcased the growing presence of Bitcoins. After its closure the FBI seized 144,336 bitcoins from Ulbricht’s account. There are currently $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoins in circulation and since January 2011 Silk Road has generated $1.2 billion in sales. The website is believed to have collected commissions of $80 million.
The FBI describes Silk Road as “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today.”
While the scope of Silk Road is shocking it is the use of Bitcoins to plan a murder-for-hire that may be its most shocking moment. The FBI claims that Ross Ulbricht paid to have a man from Canada killed after he threatened to release the identity of thousands of Silk Road users. The man demanded that Ulbricht pay him $500,000 in return for his silence.
When Silk Road was closed the global Bitcoin currency crashed for a short period of time but ultimately recovered to over $200 per coin.
While the Silk Road website has closed, several others have popped up in its place. The new websites are virtual clones, offering users the ability to purchase cocaine, marijuana, and various other drugs with the help of Bitcoins.
It should be noted that at this time the murder-for-hire job has not seemed to turn up an actual murder. Officials believe Ulbricht was unsuccessful in finding a killer willing to take the job.