Over $1 Billion in Silk Road Bitcoin Is Target of U.S. Suit

Over $1 Billion in Silk Road Bitcoin Is Target of U.S. Suit

The U.S. is suing for the forfeiture of thousands of Bitcoins, totalling more than $1 billion, that it seized on Tuesday.

The cryptocurrency seizure, tied to the Silk Road marketplace, is the largest the U.S. has ever made, the Justice Department said in a statement on Thursday.

The seizure takes a swath of the digital cryptocurrency out of circulation at least temporarily, likely contributing to an increase of about 7% in its price, to about $15,200, on Thursday. In the past, federal authorities have auctioned off seized Bitcoins, but usually months after acquiring them.

The authorities seized the funds from an unknown hacker who had gained access to them, according to the statement. The Bitcoin address at which they probably seized the currency is the fourth-richest in the world, according to BitInfoCharts. Researcher Elliptic flagged that the funds were on the move on Tuesday.

The funds were associated with the Silk Road website, which used Bitcoin to peddle everything from drugs to murder-for-hire until it was shut down by U.S. agents in 2013. Silk Road, operated by Ross William Ulbricht starting in January 2011, used Bitcoins to generate the equivalent of $1.2 billion in illicit sales and reap $80 million in commissions in less than three years, according to court documents.

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