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Nearly $1 billion in Bitcoin are being moved from the darknet

Photo of: Nathan VDH
by Nathan VDH

Nearly a billion dollars in Bitcoin (BTC), believed to have come from the infamous Dark Web Silk Road market, circulated yesterday for the first time in five years, according to blockchain tracker Elliptic.

According to their report, 69,369 BTCs (worth approximately $945.4 million) were moved from the address 1HQ3Go3ggs8pFnXuHVHRytPCq5fGG8Hbhx, which previously had the fourth highest balance of all Bitcoin addresses.

The tracker discovered that “through analysis of the blockchain, we can determine that these funds probably came from the Silk Road site. Elliptic co-founder Tom Robinson told Bloomberg that he was “60% convinced that these funds came from this site” but was not completely certain.

In 2012, these Bitcoin were removed from the then $350,000 Silk Road portfolio and moved to the aforementioned address in 2013 after sitting dormant for a year. Since then, according to the report, the address has become dormant again, except for the transfer of 101 BTCs in 2015 to BTC-e, a crypto exchange which, according to the report, was “chosen by money launderers” and then “dismantled by U.S. law enforcement in 2017”.

Mr. Robinson told Bloomberg that it is unclear whether the BTCs were moved by the founder, a vendor or law enforcement. The report gave two possible explanations among others:

The founder of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, or a Silk Road vendor could move his funds, although it is unlikely that Ulbricht could transfer bitcoin from prison. He was sentenced to a double life sentence for his participation in the creation and operation of this market on the Dark Web.

An encrypted file has been circulating on hacker forums for the past year, claiming to hold the cryptographic keys to the above-mentioned address. This means that anyone who could crack the file’s password could take the Bitcoins from it. Therefore, another possibility is that the crypto wallet file is real, the password has been cracked, and the bitcoins have been moved.