Corruption in The Deep Web

Not long ago we had with you stroll by the deep web and we show what We are on the way: financial, commercial, anonymity and security, and of course sites that issues such as political activism, the murmurs about secrets of State or, of course, erotic content are the order of the day.

The ins and outs of this hidden part of Internet are protagonists in the scandal that a few days ago was revealed in the research that various U.S. agencies made of Silk Road. Two of the agents involved in the investigation they used the information that managed to obtain to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars. His clumsiness made that they discovered them, but bitcoin theft could have gone well.

Corruption and bitcoins, dangerous combination

The then DEA agent Carl Mark Force IV and of the secret service Shaun Bridges have been accused of laundering of capital, bank fraud and theft of Government property among other things. He began to suspect these agents in may 2014, nearly a year after the arrest of Ross Ulbricht, head of Silk Road.

Force was especially ambitious in its plan to enrich themselves during the Silk Road research: in addition to steal bitcoins from accounts associated with Silk Road this agent sold information about the investigation to Ulbritch (he used the nickname “the Dread Pirate Roberts” (DPR)) under different aliases such as “Nob” and “French Maid” in those who did not reveal his identity and claimed to have gotten such a corrupt government agent data. At the same time Force blackmailed to Ulbritch with another alias, “Death from Above”, using other internal information that was gathering on the case.

These activities they had their effect on the incomes of Force, He entered his bank account the money that earned up to then with his salary at the DEA, but that also removed over three times the mortgage, paid a $22,000 loan, transferred another $235,000 to an account in Panama and invested tens of thousands of dollars in the housing market and stock exchange actions.

More twists, this is complicated

Shaun Bridges, the other agent involved in this case of corruption, on the other hand stole 820,000 dollars of Silk Road. That operation was carried out during the Declaration of Curtis Clark Green, an employee of Silk Road that became in control of the Government of the United States in January 2013. Green offered all kinds of information about the operation of that business and gave full access to your account managers of research.

The afternoon that gave access to these data occurred to a massive theft of bitcoins that followed during the night, and Ulbricht/DPR managed to find out that the money came from Green account in Silk Road. Ulbricht believed that Green was the thief, so he sent him a message “Nob” (which was actually the agent Force), he believed that he was a drug dealer and a Hitman, and It charged that work on Green. What did Force? Fake the death of Green in collaboration with it and with Bridges, who sent the photos of the alleged murder to DPR. Ross Ulbricht, by the way, was charged with this murder that actually never took place, and the case is still pending.

Meanwhile the money in the form of bitcoins continued their way to Mt. Gox, a bitcoin Exchange entity. In February Bridges created a company called Quantum International Investments LLC, opened a bank account and started using it to receive money transfers from account bitcoin on Mt. Gox. Between March and may that counts received nine transfers with a total that was about 820,000 dollars.

The Government it hid everything until just before the trial of Ulbricht

Things get even more ugly when we learned that although research on Force and Bridges began nine months before the trial to Ulbricht, their defence lawyers they knew nothing about it until five weeks before the trial, and prosecutors in the case were commissioned to keep sealed information. In that process not came out absolutely nothing about that case of corruption.

Joshua Horowitz, one of the defence lawyers of Ulbricht, described those efforts of the Government as “noisy”, and said that such research “had lack of integrity”. According to this team of defenders, hide information about Force and Bridges made the trial Ross “wasn’t right”. The Prosecutor who led the case wanted to clarify after those statements that the judge Katherine B. Forrest indicated that all these facts they not exonerating to Ross Ulbricht in any way.

The trial, however, also had especially surprising moments. During the first days of the trial were presented evidence against Mark Karpeles CEO of Mt. Gox. Force agent tried to be contacting Karpeles through LinkedIn and e-mail that asked you to sell 250 bitcoins. Karpeles never answered, but Force insisted, adding that he was looking for “new employment opportunities”.

Karpeles again ignored that request. When the agent Shaun Bridges collaborated in the seizure of 2.9 million dollars from an account Mt. Gox bitcoin from the federal Government, Carl Force rewrote a message to Karpeles with a single line: “you said that you had to have associated with me!”.

Force tried to put pressure on various services bitcoin

The agent Force did not stop there, and tried to put pressure on other entities working with bitcoin as cell. In February of 2014 cell blocked the account that Force had created in that service to detect high-risk activity. Force contacted cell from your personal email account, identified himself as a DEA agent (with included image of your plate) and demanded that they unlock your account, in addition to seeking to hire you.

Cell did not do anything about it, and Force sent a subpoena from his account of the Justice Department. Cell makers suspected of those procedures and reported to superiors of Force, which ended shortly after telling them to those responsible for that “forget” the citation to try the waters be tried. Of course, all were empty words: Force asked one of his companions to investigate a cell to try to block all bills, but that was not the result expected Force, and indeed cell–or rather its parent company, Braintree – ended up being bought by PayPal six months later for $ 880 million.

It was not the only operation that tried to Force in this sense, which also tried to use Bitstamp services, and did through Tor. That digital currency exchange service managers asked him why he used this Protocol to maintain their anonymity, and Force responded that “I use TOR for privacy. I particularly want to avoid that the NSA is looking over my shoulder”.