Two federal agents may have gone a little native while investigating the Silk Road, USA Today reports.
Carl Force of Baltimore, 46, a former special agent at the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Shaun Bridges of Laurel, Maryland, 32, a former special agent at the U.S. Secret Service, have been charged with wire fraud and money laundering for allegedly stealing a boatload of bitcoin during their investigation of the darkweb black market.
Force was an undercover agent that communicated with Ross Ulbricht, the "Dread Pirate Roberts" who has now been convicted for his role as the site's mastermind and faces life in prison. But prosecutors argue that Force had a conflict of interest, creating several unauthorized online aliases for bitcoin transactions and stealing from both the government and the investigation's targets. Using the alias "French Maid," Force allegedly sold the Dread Pirate Roberts information about the government's investigation for $100,000 worth of bitcoin. Once paid, Force deposited the bitcoin into a personal account, or so writes IRS Special Agent Tigran Gambaryan in an affidavit. Allegedly, Force then converted some bitcoin to dollars, wiring the money to an account in Panama.
There's more! All while maintaining his role at the DEA, Force allegedly worked for and then invested $110,000 in the digital currency exchange company CoinMKT. That company even featured Force as its anti-money laundering and compliance officer in pitches to VCs, and court papers allege that Force went to so far as to get CoinMKT to freeze a customer account... that he then plundered. Anyway, Force was arrested on Friday and appears in court today.
For his part, Bridges — who surrendered to authorities and appeared today in San Francisco before a federal magistrate — allegedly stole more than $800,00 in bitcoin that he controlled during the Silk Road investigation. Alas, he may have placed the lucre in Mt. Gox — the site of a massive theft that left it bankrupt. According to court documents, Bridges has sought a $2.1 million seizure warrant for Mt. Gox accounts.