Ross Ulbricht (aka Dread Pirate Roberts), the alleged head of Silk Road, has reportedly been arrested

Ross Ulbricht, 29, was arrested in San Francisco (perhaps on the 27th of September?); he was a resident of Austin, Texas; and Preet Bharara is alleging that Ross – otherwise known as Dread Pirate Roberts – is head of Silk Road. Interestingly, Bharara is a federal prosecutor in Manhattan, so appears (by first tweet accounts anyway) to be taking charge of this.


And here is image of the Silk Road now:



And here is a photo of Ross Ulbricht from Austin, Texas and, according to the complaint, he had ordered 9 fake IDs . . . delivered to his home address (not the brightest guy).

I'm dreading being captured . . .

I’m dreading being captured . . .

It appears that Ulbricht had an online social media profile replete with humble brags and interests which could have associated him with his site; also, in total, 9.5 million bitcoins were exchanged on the site:

Agents attempting to track the Silk Road founder looked back into early promotion of the site, looking at messages posted on drug discussion forums and WordPress blogs by a user named “altoid”. Agents tracked this name to a Gmail address, which they then claim was registered to Ulbricht.

FBI agents then began surveillance of Ulbricht, who they say was living in San Francisco under an assumed name, attempting to match his internet activity with the posting times of Dread Pirate Roberts. Agents also intercepted fake IDs being posted to the address at which Ulbricht was staying.

The moral of the story is that NOTHING is anonymous online. Chances are that either you, or your associates, will inevitably leave a footprint. I’m sure there are only a very few guys (and women) who can truly operate anonymously. But, if you’re not certain you can surf truly anonymously and ever used the Silk Road for illicit purchases, assume this guy is going to squeal or has squealed in the days since he’s been in custody. Appearances can be deceptive, but he doesn’t strike me as the sort that would stay quiet.

47 comments on “Ross Ulbricht (aka Dread Pirate Roberts), the alleged head of Silk Road, has reportedly been arrested
  1. oneguy says:

    They made the list of complaints so long that when printed it will actually hurt once hurled at DPR.

    Curious how they got him.

  2. Dave says:

    Give it a week, there will be a new one up again. The more they tighten their grip, the more people will slip through their fingers.

  3. @Dave – there are already others, at least according to people on Twitter . . .

  4. Mike says:

    I’ll bet the interview he recently gave somehow compromised his identity. Computer forensics nabbed this guy. Bitcoins have probably also been compromised as well.

  5. Claymore says:

    They only needed to track from where the packages were coming… Its not that hard for postal services, since all packages are tracked.

  6. OffTheGrid says:

    Actually signed up to this over the weekend to see what it was all about. Interesting stuff.

    Clearly Ulbricht refused to build in a backdoor to the site for the NSA to keep tabs on the civilians purchasing goods illegal or otherwise and this has forced them to remove none compliant entrepreneurs.

    Where am I going to get my provigil now. LOL

  7. oneguy says:

    Silk road taken down at the same time that Heisenburg (WW) got taken down. Weird….

  8. oneguy says:

    “It looks like they sniffed him out by looking back at old Internet records (forum posts, IPs etc) from around the time of SRs appearance. The first person to ever advertise SR was DPR himself, and he used an email account attached to his natural born identity. No NSA or technical hack.”

  9. Mike says:

    No man, this guy wasn´t directly selling illegal stuff to customers, he was essentially running an ebay-type platform and raking in lucrative fees on transactions made in illegal goods sold by others on the forum…witch are paid in bitcoin. The whole story behind how the author even got his interview, and then the interview itself, probably provided needed clues…and subsequently led to the issuance of search and seizure warrants which helped nab this dude.

  10. oneguy says:

    Then there is this weirdness. (damn he really took a page from Heisenburg)

    “Don’t want to be a pain here, but the price seems high.
    Not long ago, I had a clean hit done for $80k. Are the prices you quoted the best you can do? I would like this done ASAP as he is talking about releasing the info on Monday.”

  11. Roy says:

    at least they didn’t go Lincoln-JFK on him …

    the Rothschid/Rockefeller cabal can rest assured they still maintain their currency monopoly and they have somebody to punish for challenging them

  12. Tim Julian says:

    Watch bitcoin fall in price, Silk Road, was bitcoin!

  13. Omar says:

    Hey Max!
    There must be a way to protect physical Bitcoin!

  14. Useless Eater says:

    While the secret agents of the secret FISA court may well be able to use “corresponding times” with regards to internet use (highly debatable as being legal in its own right) to get a warrant, it is something entirely different being able to prove that those actions constitute a procedurally-correct search, seizure and/or arrest/charge. But, as we are beginning to see on a daily basis now, the purpose is not to convict anymore, it seems to be to intimidate. Proof positive that this is the true purpose of the government spying policies.

  15. Bruce says:

    Sho’nuff not foolin anyone with that pic, yo. PWS (Pasty White Skin) never leaves the tanning salon of the computer. He could not sell hiking gear to me, yo.

    Putting up a real pic of yourselfz on The Man’s Network is always Peak Psychosis, yo. Peak Arm Contortionist too, yo.

  16. Goldman Sucks says:


    That cleared that up then,

  17. LL Cool WFT Jim says:

    Ahem. Who sold half of their bitcoins the other week there?

    Keiser report should continue say buy bitcoins, silver, gold etc as they go down like they have been for so long but maybe point out to noobs:
    1. Don’t go all in
    2. Sell some when you are in profit to at least cover your initial stake

  18. @Tim Julian – while drugs, guns and oil are the three biggest industries in the world, I’m sure bitcoin will do fine without Silk Road. First of all, the barrier to entry is not very high – – someone in a non-extradition nation or an old fashioned drug baron could easily set up his or her own site to fill the void; plus the rest of the bitcoin economy is growing; Bitpay alone handled transactions of over 270,000 bitcoins so far this year

  19. davem says:

    @LL Cool WFT Jim
    Yes – very good advice – and I wish I’d done that, now the price is so low I’ve lost my gains, but next time am in profit will sell some.

  20. Tim Julian says:

    Keep us up to date with all new going ons!

  21. Confused says:

    Can’t a person just place an order online for Modafinil direct from the same sources in India? Why waste BTC on such a purchase when you can instead unload USD?

  22. @davem – currency day trading is a mug’s game; just so you know . . . getting clients to trade in and out (ie capture gains, rebalance portfolio, blah blah blah) is what brokers *do* . . . churn baby churn

  23. MikeB says:

    How were the bitcoins seized?!?

  24. @MikeB – can’t tell what’s happened yet; DPR’s private wallet, perhaps they got him to hand over the key; but re: the wallets stored on the SilkRoad servers . . . they would need the keys to be able to unlock them; will look for more info on this and report back

  25. LL Cool WFT Jim says:

    @davem Stacy thinks I’m talking about day trading and I’m not, what I’m talking about is protecting capital. Both ideas – not spending too much and locking in a partial profit – are about protecting capital.

    The Kaiser report says all the time basically to buy gold silver and bitcoins which is fine but it doesn’t say don’t bet too much or if you’ve doubled your money sell half so you are back at evens again.

    The thing is nobody can predict the future perfectly. For example, bitcoins didn’t even exist a couple of years ago. Maybe the US will do a deal with China and its gold and make a renmimbi dollar hybrid where the dollar is backed by gold, or China will lease back gold to the US or something or the bond crisis will end another way.

    Maybe those scenarios aren’t realistic and I think gold and silver are worth having but if you can’t predict the future 100% then you shouldn’t put 100% of your money on something regardless of what anyone else says.

    And you don’t have to take my word for that either, have a think about it yourself.

  26. @LL Cool WFT Jim – you do know currencies are not an asset class? I have euros, dollars and sterling as well; I’ve never once looked at the balances and thought “ooh, I’ve got to trade in and out and capture gains, avoid losses, etc” I have them to spend in those currency regions I visit often. Same with bitcoin; I have bitcoin for use PURCHASING things . . . so why would I want to trade in and out to get more dollars? Or more pounds? what? I earn them, I use them, I donate them, I exchange with them. I maintain that ANYONE who ‘invests’ in a currency is a fool. Bitcoins will go up in value just by the nature of the algorithmic design and by expanding online trade; but I would never speculate in them for that reason, I invest in them for that reason. If you’re happy with trading in and out, ‘capturing the gains’ you claim you are (most hedge funds lose money despite their alpha dog manic trading . . . probably because of it . . . )

  27. Skye Bowen says:

    I think one of the points that Max is trying to make, when talking about buying gold/silver/btc, is to stop thinking in terms of USD. The USD is an artificial construct, available in ever increasing quantities, containing ever decreasing value.
    It’s all about having a larger quantity of btc/silver/gold. Not how much your btc/silver/gold cost in USD.

  28. Nat says:

    BTC, value of gold, of silver, currencies of all kinds, value of property etc etc etc. They are ALL artificial constructs.

    That one set chooses to see gold,silver,bitcoins as somehow less artificial is a matter of choice and mindset. Flip it around and you can equally see how valid it is to pour scorn on them from the mindset of stocks, shares, GLD, SLV, property etc being more valid.

    The only differences between all the mindsets is confidence in their own prediction of economic/political/social future outcome.

  29. Shari says:

    Arrest the bad guy! Yeah, the FEDs seizes this guys stuff… plenty of evidence, right? But when it is Jamie Diamond and company, too big to fail… the DOJ have lunch and talk about what to do with all of this price manipulation.
    WE are no longer sheep! We HAVE Stacey an Max to tell us the truth…
    …and the people aren’t going back to sleep.

  30. @Skye Bowen – “value does not exist outside of human consciousness” . . . it is only because we value something that it has value; humans have valued gold for 5000 years and I’m sure (should we survive so long) we’ll value it for another 5000 years; humans, however, also have a history of only valuing paper currencies about 50 years at a time; exchange values between gold, silver, paper currencies, can fluctuate (sometimes enormously so) within a relatively short time period; but there are larger cycles and trends, the longest being the 5000 year one we’re still in

  31. Danny Mack says:

    So, it seems like the whole Silk Road arrest story is the most elaborate story EVER! I might be wrong, but I did some research and there’s no FBI official statement. Call the NY FBI office and they’ll tell you that they don’t even know what you’re talking about. The seizure label on the website appears to be a fake.

    Could just be a major hack and the biggest hoax ever. I’m sure we’re all about to find out either way.

    The plot thickens… 😉

  32. John says:

    One thing I have to commend Stacy & Max on:
    their consistency throughout 4 years (since they began their show) of stormy ups & downs in the price of silver & gold.

    Name one other economic commentator on any other channel (FOX, CNN, MSNBC) who stays consistently with a certain stock, for years & years, no matter what. No. You’ll have liars on those shows push & push a given stock. Then, when the price drops, they all secretly point & laugh at the audience for being fools for buying the stock when it was so high, and then excuse their lies with the “we were only giving advice: you take full responsibility for your losses” argument.

    Stacy & Max have NEVER done that.

    The fact remains that I can see with the few humans I meet in person each day: continuing their habits, their current routines, no matter how destructive to the planet or to themselves, or how idiotic, their habits are.

    I think it was this observation, more than any other fact (silver price manipulation, industrial uses for silver, peak oil, has been money for 2000 years) that got me into silver, even when it was over $37 an ounce.

    Hence, humans will keep continuing on this destructive race toward the finish line, resulting in a catastrophic collapse and a sharp rise in the value of silver, before the world settles on a sustainable population size and energy infrastructure.

    No technology can get around the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (entropy) nor finiteness.

  33. Mishopshno says:

    Isn’t the point that the NSA has access to all the passwords and keys in the universe?

  34. Nat says:


    Who cares what is considered an “Asset Class” by some formal banking body? Leave those formal definitions to well trained circus dogs.

    An individual is free to trade in anything if they think there is room for profit.

    Investing is no different to trading other than the time involved. There is no “investing” if you do not at some point cash out so to speak into something useable later on. Investing without cashing out is simply “buying” (which also happens if you die before cashing out!) .

    Difference in mindset of day-trading and long term trading is only one of energy, speed, trust in instinct rather than long thought out actions. You could argue that day-traders are cutting out the risk of a harder to predict long-term future and also the risk of their death before seeing benefits.

    Both speeds of trader have self-belief in their view of the world. You for example are convinced in your belief that Bitcoin will increase in value over time, gold and silver too. To call one set “idiots” is just a battle of egos.

    But the financial motivation to increase the buying power of your original stake/savings is the same, don’t kid yourself that it’s not.

    See more clearly a difference between people who don’t save or invest, in fact have no real interest in money other than society forces that need of it upon them. When you zoom out, investors and day traders will appear as one blob while the rest of the population are clearly separate.

    Then that blob is heard calling the majority “idiots” for not being obsessed with money and buying power..

  35. Nat says:


    That’s because those commentators are paid to have an exciting opinion.

    Stacy and Max have chosen to look in to the truth about markets out of their own interest and intrigue into the corruption etc going on.

    Reggie Middleton is a “pundit” who has long term views. There are many many blogers and pundits who have long term views – many of whom appear on The Keiser Report or (used to be down the side-bar) linked to from this site.

    Your observation is more that the MSM tend not to employ “ethusiasts” for want of a better word, rather they employ flitty little talk boxes who can fill dead air..

  36. Nat says:

    @Danny Mack

    I F@*%ing hope so !!

    That would be hillarious!

    Did you call the NY FBI yourself?

  37. Nat says:

    In terms of Bitcoin, I see the day traders (who are probably the biggest volume by number) are pulling the price back, realising some gains from the immediate sell-off panic.

  38. Nat says:

    @ John

    I hate to sound mean (I too appreciate Max and Stacy’s work, very much so) but a stopped clock is correct twice a day! A clock that is an hour slow is never right but you can still work out the time from it.

    What I’m saying is that consitancy is no judge of how right someone is. Consistancy is actually more likely to convince YOU that someone is right rather than be an indicator of reality, especially if you yourself are undecided – it gives you a phantom raft to cling on to in times of uncertainty.

    In other words, make sure you are responsible for making up your own mind on things.

  39. Danny Mack says:

    @nat Yes. When he said he didn’t know what I was talking about, I tolkd him to google Silk Road FBI…he again said – “I know nothing about this”. Then I emailed the San Francisco office…haven’t gotten a response. soooo interesting.

  40. Parakletos says:

    This is good news for Bitcoin. Such activity tainted the reputation of the decentralized currency.

    I wonder if the Feds will actually SELL the bitcoins they seized from this operation. Or maybe they already have, and that caused the major drop?

  41. One guy says:

    @danny , you could be right. Did anyone see any news video of him in cuffs? Is this standard protocol for the FBI to not give a more public release or to not acknowledge this arrest?

    Is it standard for the Silk Road watermark to be in the background of a seized domain?

    If you were the DPR would you hoax a FBI raid to make off with lots of coins?

    And is this a Keiser Soze moment? Ie: Pirate Roberts escape?

    Or is this just a damn good opportunity to buy btc?

  42. One guy says:

    Regardless I’m drinking a bottle rum in in honor of a good pirate story. Arrrr

  43. Jayme says:

    Yep, go after a few million from petty criminals while hemorrhaging trillions to the bankers. If only he was worth a few million more, they’d be protecting him rather than arresting him. /sarc

  44. me says:

    “The moral of the story is that NOTHING is anonymous online.”

    Wtf?! That’s not the moral of the story at all!
    The moral of the story is to never give out personal info on the internet if you want to stay anonymous!

  45. Ilia says:

    “The moral of the story is that NOTHING is anonymous online”

    Not true IMHO. It is not a simple thing to answer but I am convinced you will see more and more tools to make it easier to achieve anonymity and privacy in the near future. DPR is a trail-blazer and we shouldn’t rush to draw conclusions from this just like we didn’t jump to conclusions from Napster. It paved the way to bittorrent and the rest.

    The internet is what we make it. Don’t give up on it.

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