Silk Road investigators charged with stealing bitcoin

Two former U.S. agents face charges of wire fraud and money laundering

Two former U.S. government agents face charges related to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin while assisting with an investigation of the Silk Road underground online marketplace, with one accused of using a fake online persona to extort money from operators of the site.

Facing charges of wire fraud and money laundering are Carl Force, 46, of Baltimore, a former special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and Shaun Bridges, 32, of Laurel, Maryland, a former special agent with the U.S. Secret Service. Both served on the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force, which investigated illegal activity on the Silk Road website, the Department of Justice said Monday in a press release.

Force served as an undercover agent with the task force and worked to establish contact with a main target of the investigation, Ross Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, who was convicted in February of criminal charges related to running Silk Road. In addition to wire fraud and money laundering, Force is charged with theft of government property and conflict of interest.

A complaint unsealed Monday alleges that Force created several online personas and engaged in a range of illegal activities as a way to make money. He used the fake online personas to engage in complex bitcoin transactions to steal both from the government and the targets of the investigation, the complaint alleged.

Force allegedly used a fake persona to ask Ulbricht for a US$250,000 payment in exchange for not passing information to government investigators, according to the criminal complaint. He allegedly used another persona to sell Ulbricht information about the government investigation in exchange for about $100,000 in bitcoin.

Force also stole a "sizeable amount" of bitcoin that Ulbricht sent to him in his official undercover capacity, according to the complaint. Force, working at the CoinMKT digital currency exchange at the same time he was with the DEA, also directed the company to freeze a customer's account, worth about $297,000, then seized those funds and transferred them to his personal account, the complaint alleged.

Bridges served as a computer forensics expert with the task force. He allegedly diverted to his personal account more than $800,000 in digital currency that he gained control of during the Silk Road investigation. Bridges placed the assets into an account at Mt. Gox, the now-defunct digital currency exchange in Japan, according to the complaint.

He then allegedly wired funds into a personal investment account in the U.S. just days before he sought a $2.1 million seizure warrant for Mt. Gox's accounts.

Both men were scheduled to appear in court Monday.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags U.S. Department of JusticeInternet-based applications and servicesRoss UlbrichtShaun BridgeslegalU.S. Secret Servicegovernmentsilk roadinternetCarl ForcecybercrimeU.S. Drug Enforcement Agency

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?