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DOJ Seized Billions in Bitcoin Stolen from Silk Road Darknet Marketplace


This is the federal government’s second-largest seizure of cryptocurrency, following the $3.6 billion in stolen crypto linked to the 2016 hack of Bitfinex.

Credit: Jonathan Raa/Nurphoto/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Justice said it conducted the largest cryptocurrency seizure in its history after searching the home of James Zhong, a hacker who pleaded guilty on Friday to charges related to incidents involving the now-defunct Silk Road darknet marketplace.

According to the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service, the 32-year-old committed wire fraud in September 2012 when he stole more than 50,000 Bitcoin from Silk Road. The stolen funds were seized during a raid on Zhong's Gainesville, Georgia home in November 2021.

"For almost 10 years, the whereabouts of this massive chunk of missing Bitcoin had ballooned into an over $3.3 billion mystery," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.

"Thanks to state-of-the-art cryptocurrency tracing and good old-fashioned police work, law enforcement located and recovered this impressive cache of crime proceeds. This case shows that we won't stop following the money, no matter how expertly hidden, even to a circuit board in the bottom of a popcorn tin."

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