Ross Ulbricht clearly loves history. This is evident from the pseudonym that he chose for his online activity, and even the name he chose for the domain name. The pseudonym he chose was Dread Pirate Roberts, and he named his site the Silk Road though in my view Seven Seas would have been apter.
Here are a quick lit and history lesson. Dread Pirate Roberts, is a fictional pirate who first appeared in William Goldman’s novel The Princess Bride and was roundly feared across all the seven seas for his ruthlessness and take-no-prisoners approach. Dread Pirate Roberts is a series of individuals who pass on the title and fearsome reputation to a designated successor, a lot like swashbuckling James Bond, but on the high seas.
The online Dread Pirate Roberts seems to have adopted the same approach for not long after Ross Ulbricht was arrested, and then another Dread Pirate Roberts appeared. This is a development that seems likely to keep the feds busy for some time to come.
Silk Road comes from an ancient network of trade routes that were spread out all over Europe, India, China, and even some parts of northern and eastern Africa. The online version was a black market that among other things sold illegal drugs. It operated in what is known as the Deep Web, where through the Tor service, users could browse anonymously and securely without any monitoring by the authorities.
Similar to its ancient type, the online Silk Road was also international in scope, covering at least 10 countries including the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, and Sweden.
Due to its activities Silk Road was shut down and “Dread Pirate Roberts the first,” Ross Ulbricht was arrested in 2013. Ross Ulbricht was indicted on charges of money laundering, hacking, and narcotics trafficking. On February 4th, 2015, a jury in a Manhattan Federal Court convicted Ross Ulbricht on seven charges, potentially earning him 30 years in jail.
On March 5th, 2015, the United States Marshals Service concluded its second online auction of bitcoins seized from Ross Ulbricht. The sealed bid auction was for 50,000 bitcoins divided into two series. The first series comprised ten blocks of 2,000 bitcoins and the second had ten blocks of 3,000 bitcoins. Bidders had to deposit US$ 100,000 for the first series and US$ 150,000 for the second series. The total number of bids stood at 34 from 14 bidders, and the value of the bitcoins at current market rates stands just shy of US$ 14 million.
The winning bidder will be notified on March 6th, 2014, and will be required to wire payment to the USMS by 2:00 pm, Monday, March 9th, 2015.
As of the moment, the USMS has not announced the name of the winning bidder. The last time they did the first auction, venture capitalist Tim Draper was the winning bidder though he refused to disclose how much he paid for the 30,000 bitcoins. He however did not submit a bid for the latest Dread Pirate Roberts auction.
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