Silk Road, one of the most popular deep web marketplaces for drugs and murder-for-hire, was conclusively shut down by the FBI in 2013. The operation led to the arrest of site owners; millions of dollars worth of Bitcoins were seized as well. In subsequent years, the U.S. government auctioned off this wealth on the U.S. Marshals Service website. Years later, in 2020, it seems that the ghost of Silk Road still remains.
According to the blockchain tracker Elliptic, close to $1 billion worth of Bitcoins that possibly originated from Silk Road is on the move (via Bloomberg). Specifically, some 69,369 Bitcoins have been moved out of a wallet that may be linked with the website. And this wallet is associated with an account that is the world’s fourth-richest Bitcoin address, according to BitInfoCharts.
It is unclear whether the 69k Bitcoins are being moved by law enforcement agencies, Silk Road’s owner, or a vendor. But according to Tom Robinson, co-founder of Elliptic, the reason might be rooted in preemptive security measures. Robinson tweeted earlier today that “A copy of the encrypted wallet file is reportedly being circulated—if someone cracked the password they could seize the Bitcoins. The owner of the wallet has perhaps moved the BTC to a new wallet to prevent this.”
Robinson went as far as to speculate that these might belong to Ross Ulbricht, one of the co-founders of Silk Road who is now serving the rest of his life in prison. However, from a realistic standpoint it would be unlikely that Ulbricht would have conducted this move from prison, Robinson clarified in his post.