Trailer: “Deep Web,” new film on Silk Road, Ross William Ulbricht, and the hunt for 'Dread Pirate Roberts'


Deep Web, Alex Winter’s new documentary about Silk Road founder Ross William Ulbricht is out on video-on-demand today at Vimeo.

Here's the trailer.

From Vimeo:

Deep Web gives the inside story of one of the most important and riveting digital crime sagas of the century -- the arrest of Ross William Ulbricht, the 31-year-old entrepreneur convicted of being 'Dread Pirate Roberts,' creator and operator of online black market Silk Road. As the only film with exclusive access to the Ulbricht family, Deep Web explores how the brightest minds and thought leaders behind the Deep Web and Bitcoin are now caught in the crosshairs of the battle for control of a future inextricably linked to technology, with our digital rights hanging in the balance.

Read the rest

Silk Road's Ross Ulbricht appeals conviction and life sentence

Ulbricht in happier times.
Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht filed an appeal to his life sentence on Thursday with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The end of the Silk Road for Ross Ulbricht: life in prison

Ross Ulbricht, founder of the black market network Silk Road was today sentenced to spend the rest of his life inside a federal penitentiary. Read the rest

Silk Road's Ross Ulbricht sentenced to life

Ross Ulbricht, founder of the black market network Silk Road, was today sentenced to spend the rest of his life inside a federal penitentiary.

Here's the one story to read to learn about Silk Road


Joshuah Bearman wrote an epic story about the rise and fall of the black market commerce site Silk Road. He dug deep to produce a fantastic, enthralling story. Here's what he told me about it:

This was a challenging story to write, because it was an ongoing federal investigation, with a pending trial, but I (rather luckily) managed to get inside both the Silk Road, the various law enforcement agencies trying to bring it down, and people close to Ross, to understand him more. It was always a good story, but as it unfurled just got more layered and exciting. The piece is 20,000 words! Longest thing Wired has ever published. And in two-parts, which they've never done. I wrote this thing like a non-fiction novella, and people seem to be responding to it well, even the cliffhanger and waiting for Part 2.

The Rise and Fall of Silk Road, Part 1

Image: Tomer Hanuka Read the rest

DEA and Secret Service agent charged in Silk Road fraud schemes


Former DEA agent Carl Mark Force IV and former Secret Service agent Shaun W. Bridges were charged this week with money laundering and wire fraud stemming from their involvement in the Silk Road dark web undercover investigation. Read the rest

Cops bust cybercrook who sent heroin to Brian Krebs

Sergei "Fly" Vovnenko, a Russo-Ukrainian cybercrook who stalked and harassed security journalist Brian Krebs -- at one point conspiring to get him arrested by sending him heroin via the Silk Road -- has been arrested. According to Krebs, Vovnenko was a prolific credit-card crook, specializing in dumps of stolen Italian credit-card numbers, and faces charges in Italy and the USA. Krebs documents how Vovnenko's identity came to light because he installed a keylogger on his own wife's computer, which subsequently leaked her real name, which led to him. Read the rest

Eight more arrested in global Silk Road busts

"Authorities in Britain, Sweden, and the United States have arrested eight more people following last week's closure of Silk Road." More: AP. Read the rest

The downfall of Silk Road, and with it, the so-called Dark Net

From Adrian Chen's Gawker long-read about that recent bust of the web's biggest online illegal drug marketplace:
The lesson of the Silk Road takedown isn't that Ulbricht was sloppy about security. It's that the idea of a world famous, anonymous illegal market is fatally contradictory. Ullbricht made some technical mistakes, but his biggest one was conceptual: buying his own hype that high-tech tricks would let him implement a radical free market fundamentalism that could never work politically.
Read the whole piece. Related: Chen's profile of Ross William Ulbricht. Read the rest

Silk Road prosecution: how does the US criminal justice system actually work?

Popehat's Ken White (a former federal prosecutor) uses the arrest of alleged Silk Road founder Ross "Dread Pirate Roberts" Ulbricht to explain how the criminal justice system works, including the difference between a grand jury indictment and a criminal charge, and how to understand sentencing guidelines and "maximum possible sentences." It's a great way to use current events to deepen your understanding of important, complicated systems.

If you enjoy that, you should also check out Ed Felten's post that contrasts the Silk Road story with the shut down of Lavabit to explore how crypto does -- and doesn't -- change the criminal justice system. Read the rest

Where the Silk Road ends: Feds arrest 'Dread Pirate Roberts,' alleged founder of largest Bitcoin drug market

What users who attempt to connect to the Silk Road marketplace see now (HT: Adrian Chen)

Looks like the government shutdown didn't stop federal agents from shutting down the most popular "deep web" illegal drug market. In San Francisco, federal prosecutors have indicted Ross William Ulbricht, who is said to be the founder of Silk Road. The internet marketplace allowed users around the world to buy and sell drugs like heroin, cocaine, and meth.

The government announced that it seized about 26,000 Bitcoins worth roughly USD$3.6 million, making this the largest Bitcoin bust in history. There were nearly 13,000 listings for controlled substances on the Silk Road site as of Sept. 23, 2013, according to the FBI, and the marketplace did roughly USD$1.2 billion in sales, yielding some $80 million in commissions.

According to the complaint, the service was also used to negotiate murder-for-hire: "not long ago, I had a clean hit done for $80k," the site's founder is alleged to have messaged an associate.

Ulbricht, 29, is also known as "Dread Pirate Roberts." Read the rest

Cyber-crooks mail heroin to Brian Krebs

Brian Krebs is a security expert and investigative journalist who has published numerous ground-breaking stories about the online criminal underground, much to the consternation of the criminal underground. Krebs has been the victim of much harassment, including a dangerous SWATting (where someone called a SWAT team to Krebs's door, having told them that an armed gunman was inside).

Most recently, a Russian crook called Flycracker crowdfunded the purchase of a gram of heroin on the Silk Road, which he mailed to Krebs, having first called the cops to alert them that Krebs was a narcotics trafficker. Luckily for Krebs, he lurks in the same forums in which this was planned, and knew of it in advance and tipped off the local cops and the FBI. Read the rest