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DEA Agent Admits to Stealing Bitcoins During Silk Road Investigation

© Flickr / AntanaA bitcoin exchange called ItBit is the first exchange for the virtual currency to be granted a licence by New York State's financial regulator.
A bitcoin exchange called ItBit is the first exchange for the virtual currency to be granted a licence by New York State's financial regulator. - Sputnik International
A second DEA agent has reached an agreement with prosecutors and will be pleading guilty to money laundering and extortion for his involvement in stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bitcoin during the Silk Road investigation.

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During the investigation into Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, DEA agent Carl Force created an alias of “French Maid” to extort and negotiate with their target, as well as another account called “Death From Above”, which he attempted to extort Ulbricht for $250,000 by claiming that he knew his identity. 

The only account he was authorized to use to target Ulbricht was an account called “Nob” which he used to bust dealers and persuade Ulbricht into setting up a fake “hit” against a former admin of the site.

Force reportedly sold information about the investigation in exchange for money, and managed to make himself approximately $400,000 in the process.  

During the time of the investigation he was also moonlighting with a digital currency exchange company called CoinMKT where he would do criminal background checks on their customers.  On one occasion he froze $297,000 in bitcoin from a customer and then transferred it to his own account.

Following the investigation into his activities, he resigned last year after 15 years with the agency.

On June 17, US Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges accepted a similar plea deal for his involvement in the bitcoin thefts.  He also resigned from his position at the beginning of the investigation.

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Bridges had been using admin credentials to ban dealers from using their accounts, and would then steal all of their bitcoins.  He earned at least $820,000 during the scam.

Both of the officers who were implicated in the schemes worked on a Baltimore task force which was investigating the site, but appeared to be working separately on their own scams.

The total amount of bitcoins stolen in the scheme remains unknown.

In May, Ulbricht was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars for his creation of the underground website.  Judge Katherine Forrest gave him the most severe sentence possible, despite the prosecution only requesting the 20 year minimum.

His lawyers will be appealing the case and calling for a new trial.

Force will be formally submitting his guilty plea on July 1, and sentencing will occur at a later date which is currently unknown.

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