An Ex-DEA Agent Embezzled More Than $700,000 in Bitcoin Investigating Silk Road

Old-school corruption in the crypto-currency age.


Convicted Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht has been vainly demanding another trial, so you can bet his attorneys will be referencing this case in future filings. A former undercover DEA agent has pled guilty in federal court to stealing more than $700,000 in digital currency while investigating the online black market.

The Associated Press reports that Carl M. Force pleaded guilty Wednesday to extortion, money laundering, and obstruction of justice. He could be sentenced to as much as 20 years, but attorney Ivan Bates asked the court to consider Force’s “stellar, 15-year career with the DEA except for this one blip.” Because everybody makes mistakes, right? That’s why pencils have erasers.

There are a few ways to steal bitcoin if you have the kind of access enjoyed by a DEA agent working both sides of the street. (Even if you don’t have an action-hero surname as perfectly suited to the job as “Force.”) You can use your undercover identity “Nob” to sell Ulbricht info about the federal investigation. Then you can set up yet another identity with purported inside info and call yourself “French Maid” to sell secrets. Or dispense with the cloaks/daggers and just do it the boring ol’ white collar crime way: Abuse your position as a chief compliance officer for a bitcoin broker to skim $300,000 from a customer account.

Shaun Bridges, another DEA agent on the hook for using his position to steal bitcoin, reportedly pissed Ulbricht off to such an extent that the Silk Road head was driven to put out a hit. Ulbricht still faces a murder-for-hire charge in Maryland and Bridges has yet to enter his own plea, so expect to get even more tips on stealing digital money in the next few months.

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