It appears, once again, that the Dark Web and bitcoin aren't untraceable.
Just in case there was any doubt.
A new court case has shown this after it was revealed in documents that two men allegedly stole 5,400 bitcoin from an underground illegal online drug site called Sheep Marketplace. That was when bitcoin's price was above $1,100, and so, the bitcoin was worth a lot more at the time — $6.6 million, to be precise.
Now, the government has seized $4.5 billion from two Florida men who were allegedly involved in the case. This money was reportedly given over in 2014, but the documents were sealed while an investigation was going on. This theft, which occurred in 2013, caused the Sheep Marketplace (a Silk Road wannabe that opened after that marketplace shut down) to close down.
The two men in question are Nathan Gibson and Sean Mackert, both from Florida. They are both now 24 but were 21 at the time of the crime they are accused of being part of.
“There was nothing where [Gibson and Mackert] were injecting code. There was no hacking. This was just a poorly created website that was just exploited by very young kids who immediately accepted responsibility for their actions,” said Jeffrey Lichtman, Gibson and Mackert’s attorney in the case, told Forbes.
But following those remarks, he did assert: "They're responsible for exactly what's contained within that document." He continues to deny that his clients were drug dealers or buying drugs from the site but did admit that they were involved in the bitcoin theft.
“These are not sophisticated criminals. These were not people who were well-versed in terms of criminality. They were curious kids who exploited a poorly made website," he said in the interview.
By following the bitcoin trail through bank accounts that the money was reportedly deposited in, authorities were reportedly able to track down the stolen bitcoin. Gibson also reportedly tried to make a $243,000 bitcoin transfer into a bank account, but the bank flagged the transaction. Mackert also reportedly tried to transfer $251,000 to an account.
The rest of the money was reportedly dispersed across various banks, their homes and various bitcoin exchanges. For now, the accused criminals are in discussions with the government, but there are not court hearings scheduled at the moment.