Alon Gal, co-founder, and CTO of security firm Hudson Rock reported an unusually massive bitcoin wallet containing almost 69,369 BTC.
On the 4th of November, someone moved the entirety of the wallet’s content valuing over 1 billion dollars.
Tom Robinson, co-founder and chief scientist at the blockchain analysis firm Elliptic claimed that this was the world’s fourth-largest bitcoin account and the funds may have originated from the infamous underground market of Ross Ulbricht.
The mysterious entity behind the massive transaction turned out to be The US Department of Justice(DOJ). After the end of the Silk Road in 2013 and Ulbricht behind bars, a gaping question of his criminal proceeds was unanswered. Silk Road generated an estimated revenue of 9.5 million in bitcoin and only commissions totalled more than 600k bitcoins.
Ulbricht’s coffers remained out of reach and dormant for years until a hacker identified only as Individual X gained access and transferred the bitcoins. Investigations revealed that Ulbricht threatened this Hacker after discovering the theft and Individual X with limited options left, brokered a deal with the DOJ.
On Tuesday, the hacker signed a Consent and Agreement to Forfeiture with the US Attorney’s office in San Francisco agreeing to turn over the funds to the government. The formal Statement made by Individual X detailed the elaborate procedure financial movements associated with the Silk Road.
Silk Road used a so-called “tumbler” to process Bitcoin transactions in a manner designed to frustrate the tracking of individual transactions through the Blockchain. According to the Silk Road wiki web page‚ Silk Road’s tumbler “sends all payments through a complex‚ semi-random series of dummy transactions‚ . . . making it nearly impossible to link your payment with any coins leaving the site.”
In other words‚ if a buyer makes a payment on Silk Road, the tumbler obscures any link between the buyer’s Bitcoin address and the vendor’s Bitcoin address where the Bitcoins end up—making it fruitless to use the Blockchain to follow the money trail involved in the transaction‚ even if the buyer’s and vendor’s Bitcoin addresses are both known. The only function served by Silk Road’s implementation of such “tumblers” is to assist with the laundering of criminal proceeds.”
Department of Justice recognized this event as the biggest seizure of cryptocurrency in its history.