Tag Archives: Ross William Ulbricht

Bitcoin Coming to the Big Screen in Silk Road the Movie

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Dennis Lehane to pen tell-all about Bitcoin drug marketplace Silk Road

Hollywood loves the technology world, especially when there is a well-known personality to put on the big screen.

In the last few years, we saw Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg portrayed as a punk genius in The Social Network, and we saw Ashton Kutcher grow a beard to portray the legendary Apple founder in Jobs.

Well, the next tech mogul to be profiled may be the Dread Pirate Roberts, or Ross William Ulbricht, the recently arrested founder of Bitcoin drug marketplace Silk Road.

Silk Road the Movie

Deadline reports that “20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment have set best-selling author Dennis Lehane to script Silk Road.” Lehane has an impressive body of work, including Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and Live By Night.

The story of Silk Road is indeed thrilling, and has been unfolding over the last few weeks. Ross William Ulbricht is a 29-year-old man from Texas who created an online marketplace where users could semi-anonymously transact in Bitcoin. Silk Road quickly became a place to buy and sell drugs, but there were also software and services sold online. In the federal complaint against Ulbricht, it is alleged that he paid a hitman to kill a user who was blackmailing him.

Perhaps putting Bitcoin on the big screen could help propel the further digital currency and drive awareness.



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Former Roommates of Silk Road Owner: “Think of us like Walter, Jr.”

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In a reference to hit show Breaking Bad, a former roommate of Silk Road’s owner Ross William Ulbricht compared himself to Walter, Jr., the son of main character Walter White who was oblivious to his father’s drug empire.

Ulbricht, or the Dread Pirate Roberts, as he was known to the Silk Road community, was arrested in San Francisco last week by federal authorities. Silk Road was a Bitcoin marketplace used primarily for buying and selling drugs and had generated more than $1.2 billion in transaction revenue over the last two years.

Read: The Party is Over. Silk Road Bitcoin Drug Marketplace Seized, Owner Arrested

Ross William Ulbricht Silk Road

It turns out that Ulbricht had spent the last few months before his arrest subletting an apartment from two other men in the Sunset District. He used a fake name, Josh, described himself as a currency trader, paid his rent in cash, and kept to himself on his computer most days.

Forbes published a detailed article about how Ulbricht met his former housemates and the surprise that ensued when they saw Ulbricht’s face on the front page of the newspaper the day he was arrested.

“He seemed like a normal guy,” said one roommate in an interview with Forbes. “Obviously he had a dark side, but he never showed any of that.”

“I don’t entirely understand what his motivation was,” said the other roommate. “He’s got all this money and he just sits in a not-particularly nice rental house in the Sunset [District] and just f***s around on the computer all day until he gets sent to prison.”

Read more about Ulbricht’s former housemates at Forbes.

Ulbricht is now being ordered to New York to face charges.


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The Party is Over. Silk Road Bitcoin Drug Marketplace Seized, Owner Arrested

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“Yes. The party is over.” — Reddit thread on the fall of Silk Road

In the early days of Bitcoin, the alternative digital currency was sometimes synonymous with buying and selling illicit drugs online. The most famous source for anonymous drug trafficking was a site called Silk Road, an anonymous eBay-like marketplace.

Well, no more.

Silk Road has been seized by federal authorities, and its operator has been arrested and identified as Ross William Ulbricht. Mr. Ulbright, 29 years old, is a native of Texas and lists himself as an Investment Adviser and Entrepreneur on LinkedIn.

Ross William Ulbricht Silk Road

Ulbricht’s LinkedIn profile reads:

Now, my goals have shifted. I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and agression amongst mankind. Just as slavery has been abolished most everywhere, I believe violence, coercion and all forms of force by one person over another can come to an end. The most widespread and systemic use of force is amongst institutions and governments, so this is my current point of effort. The best way to change a government is to change the minds of the governed, however. To that end, I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force.

Ulbricht operated Silk Road under the name “Dread Pirate Roberts”, or “DPR”, a reference to a fictional character in the 1987 film The Princess Bride.

He provided interviews anonymously, such as his interview with Forbes last month.

“We can’t stay silent forever. We have an important message, and the time is ripe for the world to hear it,” says Roberts. “What we’re doing isn’t about scoring drugs or ‘sticking it to the man.’ It’s about standing up for our rights as human beings and refusing to submit when we’ve done no wrong.”

Silk Road Got Big Fast, But Crumbled

Silk Road had been active for over 2 years. In that time, roughly 9.5 million Bitcoins had changed hands, which amounts to roughly $1.2 billion in sales and $80 million in commissions for the site.

The majority of transactions on Silk Road were for illicit drugs, from LCD to heroin to methamphetamine to cocaine. Users also traded prescription medications, weapons, and hacking software.

Bitcoin DEA Seizure

Soon enough, problems seemed to spring up.

In March 2013, it is alleged that Ulbricht ordered a hit on one of his users named FriendlyChemist who was blackmailing DPR and threatening to release information about users of Silk Road. DPR wrote, “In my eyes, FriendlyChemist is a liability and I wouldn’t mind if he was executed,” providing personal information about the user including that he lived with a wife and three children, and offering to pay 1,670 Bitcoin, or $150,000, for the job.

In July of this year, the DEA seized Bitcoin from Eric Daniel Hughes who had violated the Controlled Substances Act. It was theorized that he was lured by the DEA into a honeypot account on Silk Road.

Eventually, Ulbricht’s online life caught up with him. He had public Google+ and LinkedIn accounts, but was trying to lead a private life as a drug kingpin with alternate identification.

Below is the full list of criminal charges against Ulbricht.


How Will Silk Road and DPR Live On?

Just as the legend of “Heisenberg” will forever live on in the hit TV series Breaking Bad, perhaps Ulbricht’s infamy will have a lasting legacy. As evidence, there is already a Facebook fan page for Mr. Ulbricht, launched earlier today upon his arrest.

Silk Road users and supporters are already scrambling on forum sites like Reddit. Some are concerned about their own safety while others are looking for alternative sites to Silk Road.

One thread reads:

I know many of you are freaking out. If this turns out to be true this is the end of the road as we know it.
Most likely customers have nothing to worry about. We have to have faith that all incriminating evidence is kept highly encrypted. However, regardless, you wont be busted for your small amounts of stuff. I hope you used pgp as everyone has been telling you.
Vendors. Time to clean house. Delete anything incriminating you may have now. We trusted you with our information, now make sure it’s gone.
Yes. The party is over. However, the only consequences for 99.9 percent of us will be having to look harder for stuff.
Stay safe.

Some are just reminiscing about how much their Bitcoin would be worth if they had not spent it on Silk Road. “Honestly, if we didn’t spend money on there or if there was no silk road bitcoins would not be worth what they are today,” said one user. “Yep, people don’t realize that it’s the movement of bitcoins that increased their value,” replied another. “i wouldn’t even have bought the bitcoins if it werent for sr anyway,” added a third.

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