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US Lays Claim to $1 Billion in Bitcoin Stolen From Silk Road

Published: November 7, 2022
A logo of the digital currency Bitcoin is pictured on an ATM in a mall in Hong Kong on Nov. 1, 2022. (Image: PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

The United States is seeking a forfeiture order for more than $1 billion in Bitcoin that was stolen from the Silk Road online marketplace in 2012, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said on Monday.

In the second largest seizure in Department of Justice history, law enforcement seized the 50,000 Bitcoin during a November 2021 search of the Gainesville, Georgia, home of James Zhong.

Zhong on Friday pleaded guilty to wire fraud that tricked Silk Road’s processing system into releasing the funds into his accounts.

The Bitcoin was at the time worth more than $3 billion, but the value of the cryptocurrency has since lost about two-thirds of its value.

Silk Road was seized by the U.S. government in 2013, when officials described the underground website as a massive illegal drug- and money-laundering marketplace.

The website’s creator Ross Ulbricht was convicted in 2015 of seven counts of enabling illegal drug sales via bitcoin. He was sentenced to life in prison, and lost an attempted appeal in 2017.

By Reuters (Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; editing by Barbara Lewis)