Another US Secret Agent to Plead Guilty to Silk Road Bitcoin Theft
Carl Force, a member of Baltimore’s Silk Road task force and former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent has finally plead for an agreement with prosecutors.
Carl Force, a 46 year old member of Baltimore’s Silk Road task force and former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent has finally plead for an agreement with prosecutors.
Amidst the shutdown of the online dark marketplace Silk Road, Force was accused for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of bitcoins confiscated from the online dark marketplace and for transferring it to his own personal bank account instead of seizing it as a government property.
The criminal complaint filed against Force on March 25 by an IRS agent Tigran Gambaryan read:
“FORCE stole and converted to his own personal use a sizeable amount of bitcoins that DPR sent to FORCE in FORCE's official undercover capacity and rather than turning those bitcoin over to the government, FORCE deposited them into his own personal accounts.”
Force was also accused for abusing his DEA powers to seize the funds of a user in a bitcoin exchange that he invested in, called CoinMKT and for forcefully trying to unlock his funds in a payment platform Venmo.
However, the list of charges filed against Force did not end there. According to the complaint, Force was a member of Baltimore’s Silk Road task force, where he worked as an undercover agent to help Ulbricht arrange a murder-for-hire against one of the Silk Road employees, Curtis Clark Green.
In the end, the murder did not happen, as it was staged by the Baltimore task force. However, Ulbricht and the secret agents began to initiate in more undercover deals, which eventually encouraged Force to create another online persona to demand Ulbricht to pay him to cover up the murder-for-hire.
Force also continued to provide Ulbricht with classified investigation data. Force was responsible for most of the information Ulbricht gathered and categorized as “LE counterintel,” which included data from the Silk Road investigation. Force did keep his superiors aware of his fake persona, but encrypted more conversation as he begun to initiate in private deals directly with Ulbricht.
According to Gambaryan, Force required Ulbricht to pay 525 bitcoins (or ~US$50,000 at the time) for the classified information he has given, and asked Ulbricht to send the bitcoins to his personal address where the other funds he confiscated were stored.
In all, the IRS agent Gambaryan suspects that Force has stolen thousands of bitcoins during the Silk Road investigation. However, as mentioned in the complaint filed by Gambaryan, there could have been more federal agents apart from force involved in the exchange of classified investigation data and the series of undercover deals that were initiated between Force and Ulbricht.
Speculation rises from the bitcoin community that there must have been agents higher up in the federal ladder that have helped Force to directly negotiate with Ulbricht.