Former Silk Road DEA Agent Pleads Guilty to Bitcoin Theft

Yessi Bello Perez
Jul 2, 2015 at 12:45 UTC
Updated Jul 2, 2015 at 22:35 UTC

Former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Carl Mark Force IV, has admitted to stealing over $700,000 worth of bitcoin while running the Baltimore Silk Road investigation.

Force, the lead undercover agent in communication with Ross Ulbricht – the mastermind behind the online drug marketplace now sentenced to life in prison – admitted using fake online personas to steal bitcoin from both the US government and investigated parties.

He pleaded guilty to charges of extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

In connection to his plea, Force admitted he had offered to sell law enforcement information regarding the ongoing Silk Road investigation to Ulbricht. He also pleaded guilty to entering into a $240,000 contract with 20th Century Fox Film Studios for a film concerning the government’s investigation into the dark web marketplace, without obtaining prior approval from the DEA.

Assistant Attorney General Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a statement:

“Seduced by the perceived anonymity of virtual currency and the dark web, Force used invested online personas and encrypted messaging to fraudulently obtain bitcoin worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from the government and investigative targets alike.”

Caldwell continued: “This guilty plea should send a strong message: neither the supposed anonymity of the dark web nor the use of virtual currency nor the misuse of a law enforcement badge will serve as a shield from the reach of the law.”

Now awaiting sentencing, Force’s hearing is scheduled for 19th October.

The full accusations against him are detailed in a federal complaint submitted in the Northern District of California in late March.

Gravel and handcuffs image via Shutterstock.