James Zhong, a bitcoin trader who stole more than 50,000 bitcoins (BTC) from the illegal online marketplace ‘Silk Road’ in 2012, will serve 1 year and 1 day in prison, according to an announcement made by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on April 14.
Bitcoin thief sentenced
In November 2022, the US Department of Justice revealed that it had seized just over 50,676 BTC from Zhong a year prior. Last year on November 4, Zhong pleaded guilty to the charges and had been awaiting sentencing ever since.
The theft of this enormous amount of bitcoins dates back to the early years of the largest crypto by market capitalization. In 2012, Zhong managed to steal this fortune from Silk Road, an anonymous, illegal website on the dark web that was often used for the trade of illegal products such as drugs and weapons. Bitcoin was chosen as the means of payment on the marketplace to ensure anonymity.
Zhong managed to steal the funds in a unique way: he created nine different accounts to hide his identity and quickly made a total of 140 transactions. Because the system could not process this properly, he managed to receive more than 50,000 BTC.
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US attorney Damian Williams had this to say to cyber criminals:
“We will follow the money and hold you accountable, no matter how sophisticated your plan is or how long it takes.”
Seized BTC to be sold
Recently, it was reported that the US government has started liquidating the seized BTC. The US government held a total of 51,351.17 BTC from Zhong’s seizure.
Earlier this year, on March 14, 9,861 BTC were sold for $215.7 million. The remaining 41,490 BTC, which has a value of $1.257 billion at current bitcoin prices, will be liquidated in four periods throughout this calendar year.