DOJ Recovers Stolen Bitcoin Once Valued at $3.36B— in Popcorn Tin

It was stolen from Silk Road in 2012, is now only worth about $1B
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2022 1:30 AM CST
Updated Nov 8, 2022 6:01 AM CST
DOJ Recovers Stolen Bitcoin Once Valued at $3.36B— in Popcorn Tin
A photo of part of the seizure.   (US Department of Justice)

Bitcoin valued at $3.36 billion was stolen from the dark web marketplace Silk Road in 2012. A decade later, it's been recovered, though it's lost quite a bit of value since then. The US Department of Justice announced Monday that the stolen cryptocurrency was seized last November, and that now James Zhong, in whose home it was found, has pleaded guilty to stealing it. Zhong hacked Silk Road, the first (and now defunct) darknet marketplace, in such a way as to allow himself to quickly withdraw much larger quantities of bitcoin than he had deposited into the digital wallets of multiple accounts he'd set up, the BBC reports. Zhong, 32, of Georgia, pleaded guilty to stealing more than 50,676 bitcoin from Silk Road, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The cryptocurrency has since declined in value and the amount stolen is worth only about $1 billion. It was found hidden on hard drives and other devices in Zhong's home, located in a safe under his floorboards as well as hidden inside a popcorn tin inside a bathroom closet. "For almost 10 years, the whereabouts of this massive chunk of missing bitcoin had ballooned into an over $3.3 billion mystery,” says the US attorney for the Southern District of New York. “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." Zhong faces up to 20 years behind bars when he's sentenced in February. (More Silk Road stories.)

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