Authorities Sentence Man Behind Silk Road Bitcoin Theft
- The bitcoins were worth approximately $3.4 billion at the time.
- Zhong has been awaiting punishment after pleading guilty to the charges in November 2022.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has announced that it has sentenced an individual connected to illegally obtained bitcoin from the Silk Road marketplace in 2012. The U.S. Justice Department noted that James Zhong, who pleaded guilty to the charges, has been given a jail term of one year and one day for crimes linked to carrying out a plot to steal more than 51,680 bitcoins (BTC).
Authorities claim that Zhong used a “decentralized Bitcoin mixer, an overseas cryptocurrency exchange, and an impressive array of technological tools to frustrate tracing efforts.” However, his scheme was uncovered “thanks to the relentless and skillful efforts of law enforcement in following the money.”
While announcing the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams also issued a strong warning to criminals. He said, “Cyber-criminals should heed this message: We will follow the money and hold you accountable, no matter how sophisticated your scheme and no matter how long it takes.”
Williams claims that Zhong stole the BTC in 2012 and kept it a secret for about ten years until being arrested. When U.S. police raided Zhong’s Georgia house in November 2021, they discovered a computer concealed in a popcorn tin and the majority of Zhong’s bitcoin assets in a floor safe. At the time, the coins were worth approximately $3.4 billion.
The Silk Road marketplace has been inactive for about ten years. Prior to its demise, it gained popularity for allowing users to buy and trade illegal items like guns and credit card data. US regulators became interested in the platform and arrested Ross Ulbricht, the platform’s developer, in 2013. Ulbricht is now serving two straight life terms without the possibility of release.