Five days ago, we here at CelebrityNetWorth were one of the first news outlets in the world to break the story of 29 year old alleged internet drug kingpin Ross Ulbricht. It was one of the craziest stories we've ever posted and quickly blew up all over the innernets. If you haven't already read the original story, please stop what you're doing right now and click the link earlier in this paragraph to get caught up. Trust us, it's worth reading from start to finish. Truly mind blowing. For those of you who are familiar with Ulbrict, AKA Dread Pirate Roberts, we have some very interesting new developments to report…
To give everyone a really brief refresher, Ross Ulbricht is the alleged mastermind of a secretive internet drug marketplace called Silk Road. Before the FBI shut the site down, Silk Road was essentially the exact same as eBay or Craigslist if you were looking to buy heroin, cocaine, meth, weed, ecstasy etc… By using encryption software called a Tor browser, all buyers and sellers were able to remain totally anonymous and off the grid. Sellers shipped the drugs via the US Postal Service, in vacuum sealed packages. Buyers and sellers exchanged the virtual currency "Bitcoin" in place of money and Silk Road took a 10% commission on all transactions done on the site. According to the indictment papers filed in New York, the FBI was able to determine that in the two years since Silk Road has been active, the site has processed $1.2 billion worth of drug transactions. In that same time period, Ross Ulbricht, the alleged mastermind and day-to-day operator of the site, was able to amass an $80 million personal fortune in Bitcoins thanks to his commissions. FYI, he has denied all charges. Here are three shocking updates to our original story:
#1) The Hitman
If you recall from our original story, over the last several months Ulbricht was being blackmailed by a former employee who was threatening to reveal the real names of 5000 Silk Road customers unless he received $500,000. He was also threatening to reveal Ulbricht as the mastermind of the whole operation. The FBI released absolutely chilling chat logs that allegedly took place between Ulbricht and a hitman he was looking to hire to kill the former employee. During the conversation with the hitman, Ulbricht actualy tries to haggle the price down from $150,000 because he claims to have had hits done in the past for only $80,000. In his own words: "Don't want to be a pain here, but the price seems high. Not long ago, I had a clean hit done for $80k. Are the prices you quoted the best you can do?"
Well, it turns out that when Ulbricht spent $80,000 to order his previous murder (of a former employee who owed him money and had recently been arrested), the hitman he hired was actually an undercover FBI agent. Whoops. It gets worse. In a newly released set of chat logs, Ulbricht actually has the nerve to request a "proof of death" video from the supposed hitman. Amazingly, the FBI went so far as to stage a fake torture video and snap photos of a fake victim "proving" he had been shot in the back of the head twice. Here are the newly released, equally shocking, chat logs from that first hit…
"I'll need proof of death. A video. And if you can't do that, pictures… Let him use his computer to send the coins back, then kill him. I'm more concerned about silencing him than getting the money back. Considering his arrest, I have to assume he'll sing".
After $80,000 worth of Bitcoins were transferred to the agent to pay for the hit, the FBI staged a video that showed a fake victim being tortured then killed. They sent this video, as well as photos taken when the deed was done, to Ulbricht. After reviewing the video and photos, Ulbricht replied:
"I was a little disturbed, but I am OK. I'm new to this kind of thing… I don't think I've done the wrong thing, and I'm sure I will have to call on you again at some point, though I hope won't have to."
Talk about having the guy dead to rights. With all the stuff you are reading, please keep in mind that he is is a 29 year old mild mannered kid from Texas who studied physics in college and spent most of his time working out of a coffee shop. He also apparently loved hiking in Teva sandals, which was probably an early sign that this guy is a total psycho:
#2) The Arrest
When FBI agents arrested Ross, AKA "Dread Pirate Roberts", last Tuesday, it was 3:15 in the afternoon and Ulbricht was quietly working away in the science fiction section of his local branch of the San Francisco public library. But as with every part of this story, even the actual arrest wasn't a simple operation. Before the arresting agents made their move, they were specifically instructed to hold off until AFTER Ulbricht had logged into his computer, email, social media and business accounts. This simple step will likely end up providing the FBI agents unprecedented access to a treasure trove of data that otherwise could have been encrypted and lost forever. This includes information on other participants, the Silk Road network in general and possibly even encrypted bank accounts. After Ulbricht was placed into cuffs and secured at the library, a senior IT technician working with the FBI immediately jumped onto the laptop and changed all of Ulbricht's admin passwords to each account that had been opened. Brilliant.
#3) Finding Ulbrichts $80 Million
Unfortunately, the one password that the FBI wasn't able to ascertain when they swooped in to arrest Mr. Ulbricht at the library, was the one was tied to his Bitcoin account. This is the account that supposedly contains his $80 million illicit fortune in the form of 600,000 Bitcoins. Bitcoins are stored in a digital "wallet" that can only be unlocked with the user's private key. It's still a little early to tell, but it is possible that Ulbricht's entire $80 million fortune will stay locked away forever unless he voluntarily gives up that private key. Agents are diligently trying to find a work around but so far it's looking kind of bleak. As an aside, 600,000 Bitcoins represents roughly 5% of the all the Bitcoins in circulation today.
We'll keep you posted on his insane story as it develops.