US Gov Announces Seizure of 50676.17 Bitcoin That Was Stolen From Silk Road
Law enforcement located 50491.06251844 Bitcoin of the approximately 53500 Bitcoin Crime Proceeds (a) in an underground floor safe; and (b) on a single-board computer that was submerged under blankets in a popcorn tin stored in a bathroom closet.
James Zhong pled guilty to committing wire fraud in September 2012 when he unlawfully obtained over 50000 Bitcoin from the Silk Road dark web internet marketplace.
On November 9, 2021, pursuant to a judicially authorized premises search warrant of ZHONG’s Gainesville, Georgia, house, law enforcement seized approximately 50,676.17851897 Bitcoin, then valued at over $3.36 billion. This seizure was then the largest cryptocurrency seizure in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice and today remains the Department’s second largest financial seizure ever. The Government is seeking to forfeit, collectively: approximately 51,680.32473733 Bitcoin; ZHONG’s 80% interest in RE&D Investments, LLC, a Memphis-based company with substantial real estate holdings; $661,900 in cash seized from ZHONG’s home; and various metals also seized from ZHONG’s home.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “James Zhong committed wire fraud over a decade ago when he stole approximately 50,000 Bitcoin from Silk Road. For almost ten years, the whereabouts of this massive chunk of missing Bitcoin had ballooned into an over $3.3 billion mystery. 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.”
In September 2012, ZHONG executed a scheme to defraud Silk Road of its money and property by (a) creating a string of approximately nine Silk Road accounts (the “Fraud Accounts”) in a manner designed to conceal his identity; (b) triggering over 140 transactions in rapid succession in order to trick Silk Road’s withdrawal-processing system into releasing approximately 50,000 Bitcoin from its Bitcoin-based payment system into ZHONG’s accounts; and (c) transferring this Bitcoin into a variety of separate addresses also under ZHONG’s control, all in a manner designed to prevent detection, conceal his identity and ownership, and obfuscate the Bitcoin’s source.
On November 9, 2021, pursuant to a judicially authorized premises search warrant (the “Search”), IRS-CI agents recovered approximately 50,491.06251844 Bitcoin of the Crime Proceeds from ZHONG’s Gainesville, Georgia, house. Specifically, law enforcement located 50,491.06251844 Bitcoin of the approximately 53,500 Bitcoin Crime Proceeds (a) in an underground floor safe; and (b) on a single-board computer that was submerged under blankets in a popcorn tin stored in a bathroom closet. In addition, law enforcement recovered $661,900 in cash, 25 Casascius coins (physical bitcoin) with an approximate value of 174 Bitcoin, 11.1160005300044 additional Bitcoin, and four one-ounce silver-colored bars, three one-ounce gold-colored bars, four 10-ounce silver-colored bars, and one gold-colored coin.
Beginning in or around March 2022, ZHONG began voluntarily surrendering to the Government additional Bitcoin that ZHONG had access to and had not dissipated. In total, ZHONG voluntarily surrendered 1,004.14621836 additional Bitcoin.