One of the oldest, largest thefts in Bitcoin history, the robbery of early Darknet Market (DNM) Sheep Marketplace, may have finally reached its conclusion.
Folks newer to Bitcoin may not remember the scandal, which led to the closure of the popular bazaar of mostly illegal drugs, which was later found to be run out of the Czech Republic, as thCCN.com reported in March of last year. At that time, the best theory was that the owner himself with the help of his significant other had robbed the site’s hot wallet himself. However, it now appears that Thomas Jiřikovský may have been telling the truth the whole time and that security researcher Gwern Branwen’s findings may have been incomplete.
While it is certain that Jiřikovský purchased a home in the Czech Republic with proceeds from the market, and that the home was later seized by Czech authorities who also charged him with money laundering, it is now evident, given recent details made public by the US Federal Government, that, in fact, two men in Florida were actually responsible for the major theft which led to the market becoming insolvent. The men were just 21 at the time and their names are Nathan Gibson and Sean Mackert.
Sheep Marketplace was launched in response to the closing of the Silk Road, the largest and most high-profile Darknet Market in history, which led to numerous arrests including two federal officers who were found to be corrupt, having extorted and stolen funds from the market. Sheep Marketplace was rushed to production, and this could account for Gibson and Mackert’s lawyer claiming that the pair never had to hack the website. The original message given to Sheep Marketplace users similarly confirms this narrative, having said:
We are sorry to say, but we were robbed on November 21, 2013 by vendor EBOOK101. This vendor found bug [sic] in our system and stole 5400 BTC – your money, our provisions, all was stolen.
Federal documents detail how government agents were able to use block chain information to track down where the bitcoins eventually wound up, and how, using information subpoenaed from Coinbase, they were able to find bank records, including how the pair’s funds were denied at various banks over time for being suspicious. It seems the criminal masterminds were not aware that large sums of money are currently suspicious in the regular financial world.
In all, the government has seized roughly $4.5 million in US dollars from the pair’s various bank accounts. The two have hired Jeffrey Lichtman , the famous New York attorney who helped get Mafia Don John Gotti off on extortion and racketeering charges in 1992. Evidence in those cases would have been sparse as compared to bank records and the block chain. The question of whether Thomas Jiřikovský and his girlfriend were somehow complicit in the robbery remains to be answered, but CCN.com will be following the case with interest.