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.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.