Visual description of the digital cryptocurrency bitcoin.
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According to London-based blockchain analyst Elliptic, the nearly $ 1 billion worth of bitcoins has a potential relationship with the online black market Silk Road on the move.
Silk Road was shut down by the US federal government in 2013, while its creator, Ross Ulbricht, was sentenced to life in prison two years later. The website, hidden as part of the dark web, allows people to sell drugs and other illegal goods.
Elliptic, a company that tracks the movements of dirty money in the cryptocurrency sector, said Wednesday that it has chosen a transaction of money believed to have originated from the website.
The company says 69,369 bitcoins – worth about $ 950 million today, according to CoinDesk – have been moved out of the fourth highest-balance wallet globally.
It added that an encrypted file circulating among hackers is believed to contain the crypto needed to withdraw bitcoins from that wallet.
Tom Robinson, Elliptic’s co-founder and lead scientist, said in a blog post: “The movement of these bitcoins today… could represent Ulbricht or a Silk Road supplier. transfer their money. “However, it looks like Ulbricht cannot execute a bitcoin transaction from prison.”
“Also, the encrypted wallet file can be real and the password is now cracked – allowing bitcoin to be moved.”
Although the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized 174,000 bitcoins from Ulbricht, Robinson added 440,000 bitcoins were earned from Silk Road commissions. “There is always a doubt that the proceeds from the Silk Road could still be in circulation,” he said.
The FBI was not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC.
Bitcoin has plummeted in 2020, up 91% so far as major companies like PayPal and Facebook show a growing interest in cryptocurrencies. But it is also targeted by regulators and bankers due to its use in criminal activities such as money laundering.
Elliptic and a competitor named Chainalysis have tried to bring some legitimacy to the crypto industry by selling analytical tools that allow crypto exchanges and banks to block transactions. suspect.