Nearly $1B in Bitcoin Moves From Wallet Linked to Silk Road

A wallet possibly belonging to early dark net market Silk Road moved almost $1 billion worth of bitcoin early on Wednesday.

Nov 4, 2020 at 10:56 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:27 a.m. UTC

A wallet possibly belonging to early dark net market Silk Road moved almost $1 billion worth of bitcoin early on Wednesday, according to blockchain intelligence firm Elliptic.

  • Bitcoin address "1HQ3Go3ggs8pFnXuHVHRytPCq5fGG8Hbhx" transferred 69,369 BTC to an unknown wallet. The transaction was also noted by Twitter bot @Whale_alert 11 hours ago.
  • "These funds likely originated from the Silk Road," Tom Robinson, co-founder of Elliptic noted in a LinkedIn post, adding the coins may have been moved by imprisoned Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht or a Silk Road vendor.
  • This is the first transaction from the address since 2015 when it transferred 101 BTC to BTC-e – a now-shuttered cryptocurrency exchange allegedly favored by money launderers, per the post.
  • Ulbricht – who operated under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts – operated the dark net market website Silk Road from 2011 until his arrest in 2013 and is currently serving a life sentence.
  • As such, it's highly unlikely Ulbricht executed the transaction.
  • The bitcoin trove left Silk Road’s wallet back on May 6, 2012, but may have been moved to stay up to date with changes to the Bitcoin network.
  • Robinson said in the post that an encrypted file containing what are claimed to be the cryptographic keys to the coins has been circulating on hacker forums.
  • If the password has been cracked, then a hacker may have moved the stash or its owner moved them to avoid this happening.
  • Silk Road, which combined two privacy-preserving technologies – bitcoin and Tor – to enable anonymous trade of illicit goods and services likely earned around 614,000 BTC in commissions.
  • Of these, 174,000 BTC were seized from Ulbricht by the FBI when he was arrested in 2013.
  • Robinson believes the remaining 440,000 bitcoins, now worth some $6 billion, may have been used by Ulbricht to fund expenses associated with running the marketplace.
  • Big on-chain transactions related to malicious entities often raise concerns in the market. While bitcoin is down over 2% on the day at press time, those losses look to have been fueled by uncertainty around the U.S. election.

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