Well, well, well… wouldn’t you know it? If you operate a marketplace that revolves around swapping illegal drugs, the FBI might just catch up with you – even if you take some serious security / privacy precautions. Such is the tale of Silk Road, a site that operated not on the Web, but rather on the Tor network. Given the peer-to-peer nature of the site, it seemed likely that tracking down the owner would be difficult – and perhaps it was.
The operator of the service went by the moniker of “Dread Pirate Roberts”, which the FBI claim is Ross William Ulbricht. Obviously – operating an online marketplace for illegal drugs isn’t something that was going to pass the FBI over when almost one million users took part. It’s being said that Ulbricht generated an earnings of $80 million over the lifespan of the service, although the true value is a little sporadic given it’s based entirely on Bitcoin currency.
The FBI itself validated that the service operated as it promised by placing more than 100 different orders, all of which were received. Merely operating this marketplace isn’t all the FBI has on the 29-year-old Ulbricht, however; the agency is also pinning him with computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering.
One thing all of this proves is that no one is safe just because a private, highly secure network is involved. It doesn’t seem to be mentioned how Ulbricht was tracked-down, but one must wonder if he believed he was truly invincible.