The US Department of Justice announced that it seized $1 billion worth of Bitcoin from the previously shutdown Silk Road dark web marketplace and has filed a forfeiture lawsuit to claim the money. There was an initial mystery buzzing online about who may have moved the 69,370 Bitcoin, as there was no movement from the wallet since 2015.
Various blockchain investigation firms had identified the connection of the coins to Silk Road, which was a dark web site that was shut down by the FBI in 2013 due to its marketplace sales of illicit substances. The site’s founder is currently imprisoned and serving a life sentence. Hackers have been working diligently since the site’s closure to access the wallet’s funds.
A file that was presumed to hold the wallet’s private keys was shared online in 2019. A cryptocurrency wallet’s private keys provide access to coins, so the private keys which were shared likely contained partial information, and hackers gained an advantage with that information to figure out the rest of what was needed to ultimately gain access.
One anonymous hacker is believed to have successfully gained access to the site’s wallet with the help of that file and transferred the funds to his own wallet. The government then seized the Bitcoin from the hacker after his transfer. It seems “Big Brother” was watching this very closely.
The identity of the hacker is only known to the government. Some have speculated that it was the original site’s founder who moved the funds, while others believe that it seems highly unlikely that he would have access to conduct crypto transactions from behind bars. The encrypted wallet file that was shared online most likely had its password cracked ultimately.
Regardless of who moved the funds or how they were moved, the fact that it took that long to gain access, even with a shared private key file, demonstrates how intrinsically tough it is to hack a crypto wallet. Without that file, it would have been impossible.
Seizures of funds which government agencies feel were obtained illicitly is nothing new. The fact that such a hefty sum of money was involved (which was tied to a shutdown dark web site) is most likely why they were watching this wallet so closely, as there are innumerable crypto wallets in existence.
Yet, this serves as a cautionary tale for anyone, regardless of what type of cryptocurrency is being traded. One should be mindful of numerous points from this story. Dark web marketplaces are being scrutinized more than ever. Securely storing the private keys to one’s crypto wallet is critical. And moving large sums of coins could get noticed and scrutinized if the right factors are present.
META 1 Coin is committed to ensuring a secure system to avoid issues like these, but everyone should do their part to safeguard their crypto wallets and remain vigilant of watchful eyes.