Thursday, October 3, 2013

The FBI's Account of Ross Ulbricht's Attempt at Murder for Hire

Among the charges in the criminal complaint against alleged Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht is a murder for hire charge. It is pretty off the wall that out of the blue Ulbricht is negotiating a hit with someone that he has just met over the internet and that was introduced to him by the extortionist that he wants hit. According to the FBI report, the address given by Ulbricht to the hit man contained incorrect information and that there were no murders in that region on the day of the alleged hit.

The FBI report appears very selective on the communications back and forth between the Ulbricht and the hit man. Below are the details of the "murder for hire."  (Note DPR is alleged by the FBI to be Ulbricht)
DPR's Willingness to Use Violence to Protect His Interests in Silk Road

30. DPR's private communications recovered from the Silk Road Web Server further reveal that DPR has acted as a law unto himself in deciding how to deal with problems affecting Silk Road, and that he has been willing to pursue violent means when he deems that the problem calls for it.

31. For example, DPR's private--message communications from March and April 2013 reveal at least one occasion when solicited a murder--for~hire of a certain Silk Road user, who was attempting to extort money from DPR at the time, based on a threat to release the identities of thousands of Silk Road users. Specifically, the messages reveal the following:

a. Beginning on March 13, 2013, a Silk Road vendor known as FriendlyChemist began sending threats to DPR through Silk Road's private message system. In these messages, stated that he had a long list of real names and addresses of Silk Road vendors and customers that he had obtained from hacking into the computer of another, larger Silk Road vendor.FriendlyChemist threatened to publish the information on the Internet unless DPR gave him $500,000, which indicated he needed to pay off his narcotics suppliers.

b. In one message to DPR dated March 14, 2013, FriendlyChemist elaborated on the consequences for Silk Road if he followed through on this threat:

what do . . . think what will happen if thousands of usernames, ordr amounts, addresses get leaked? all those people will leave sr [Silk Road] and be scared to use it again. those vendors will all be busted and all there customers will be exposed too and never go back to sr.

c. On March 15, 2013, FriendlyChemist provided DPR a sample of the usernames, addresses, and order information he intended to leak. Also, as proof that he had obtained the data from the vendor whose computer he claimed to have hacked, supplied the vendor's username and password on Silk Road so that DPR could verify it.

d. On March 20, 2013, DPR wrote to FriendlyChemist stating: "Have your suppliers contact me here so I can work something out with them."

e. On March 25, 2013, a Silk Road user named "redandwhite" contacted DPR, stating: FriendlyChemist was asked to Contact you. We are the people owes money to.

What did you want to talk to us about?"

f. On March 26, 2013, DPR wrote to redandwhite, stating, "Just to be clear, I do not owe him any money.
I'm not entirely sure what the best action to take is, but I wanted to be in communication with you to see if we can come to a conclusion that works for everyone. aside, we should talk about how we can do business. Obviously you have access to illicit substances in quantity, and are having issues with bad distributors. If you don't already sell here on Silk Road, I'd like you to consider becoming a vendor."

g. Later on March 26, 2013, redandwhite responded:
"If you can get to meet up with us, or pay us his debt then I'm sure I would be able to get people in our
group to give this online side of the business a try."

h. On March 27, 2013, DPR wrote back: "In my eyes, FriendlyChemist is a liability and I wouldn't mind if he was executed . . . . I'm not sure how much you already know about the guy, but I have the following info and am waiting on getting his address." DPR provided a name for and FriendlyChemist stated that he lived in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada, with "Wife 3 kids." DER added: "Let me know if it would be
helpful to have his full address."

i. Meanwhile, after not hearing anything back from DPR since March 20, 2013, FriendlyChemist sent a message to DPR on March 29, 2013, stating: "u leave me no choice i want 500k usd withn 72hrs or i am going to post all the info i have. . . .i hate to do this but i need the money or im going to release it
all. over 5000 user details and about 2 dozen vender identities. wats it going to be?"

j. Several hours later on March 29, 2013, DPR sent a message to "redandwhite," stating that FriendlyChemist is "causing me problems," and adding: DPR would like to put a bounty
on his head if it*s not too much trouble for you. What would be an adequate amount to motivate you to find him? Necessities 2  like this do happen from time to time for a person in my position."

k. After redandwhite asked DPR what sort of problem was causing him, DPR responded, in a message
dated March 30, 2013: FriendlyChemist is threatening to expose the identities of thousands of my clients that he was able to acquire . . . . [T]his kind of behavior is unforgivable to me. Especially here on Silk Road, anonymity is sacrosanct." As to the murder--for--hire job he was soliciting, DPR commented that
doesn't have to be clean."

1. Later that same day, redandwhite sent DPR a message quoting him a price of $150,000 to $300,000 "depending on how you want it done" "clean" or "non-clean."

m. On March 31, 2013, DPR responded: "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."

n. Through further messages exchanged on March 31,2013, DPR and redandwhite agreed upon a price of 1,670 Bitcoins -- approximately $150,000 -- for the job. In DPR's message confirming the deal, DPR included a transaction record reflecting the transfer of 1,670 Bitcoins to a certain Bitcoin address.

o. Several hours later on March 31, 2013, redandwhite wrote back: received the payment. . . . We know
where he is. He'll be grabbed tonight. I'll update you."

p. Approximately 24 hours later, redandwhite updated DPR, stating: "Your problem has been taken care of. . . . Rest easy though, because he won't be blackmailing anyone again. Ever."

q. Subsequent messages reflect that, at DPR's request, redandwhite sent DPR a picture of the victim after the job was done, with random numbers written on a piece of paper next to the victim that DPR had supplied. On April 5, 2013, DPR wrote redandwhite: "I've received the picture and deleted it.
Thank you again for your swift action."

32. Although I believe the foregoing exchange demonstrates DPR's intention to solicit a murder--for--hire, I have spoken with Canadian law enforcement authorities, who have no record of there being any Canadian resident with the name DPR passed to redandwhite as the target of the solicited murder-for--hire. Nor
do they have any record of a homicide occurring in White Rock, British Columbia on or about March 31, 2013.


The San Francisco Chronicle reports on another alleged "murder for hire" attempt by Ulbricht, which has indications of the FBI being part of the plot in the early stages:
Authorities also alleged that Ulbricht sought to use violence to protect his domain.

The Maryland grand jury indictment said a federal agent began communicating with Ulbricht in April 2012 while posing as a drug smuggler. Then in January, prosecutors said, Ulbricht paid the agent $80,000 to torture and kill a Silk Road employee who had stolen Bitcoins and had been arrested, prompting fears he would become a government witness.

Ulbricht allegedly wrote to the agent that he had "never killed a man or had one killed before, but it is the right move in this case."

In February, the agent sent staged photographs of the employee being tortured and a picture of the purported dead body, prosecutors said.


  1. To all the people defending this guy on the grounds that his (alleged) murder plots were mere "self-defense," consider the following points:

    Ulbricht set these would-be murders in motion, anonymously, with anonymous co-conspirators, over the internet. This was done in such a way that Ulbricht would not — could not — be held liable if the "assassins" he employed had, for instance, killed or injured someone who turned out to be innocent, destroyed private property, etc.

    Since Ulbricht's gathering of information about his targets was done by way of hacking computers and/or searching the internet, the reliability of this information was obviously questionable. For instance, what if "FriendlyChemist" was using someone else's computer or identification to blackmail Ulbricht?

    The unreliability of Ulbricht's intelligence-gathering is made yet more obvious by the fact that he was unwittingly hiring federal agents to carry out these killings. It is also possible that the targets were themselves federal agents seeking to provoke Ulbricht into a murder conspiracy so that he would appear less sympathetic to the public.

    Also, when it comes to self-defense, the concept of proportional force is crucial. Is A justified in murdering B because B might reveal A's identity to the government, opening A to prosecution for his illegal activities? If the old lady next door sees you shooting up heroin in your back yard, and reaches for a phone to call the police, are you justified in shooting her dead before she finishes dialing? I don't think so. The aggression here (the violation of rights) will come from the police, not the old lady.

    Engaging in illegal but victimless activities is risky. It is up to the individual engaging in such acts to keep them secret. A libertarian does not kill someone for sharing information he failed to protect.

    In the Maryland plot, the target had not even threatened any harm against Ulbricht. Ulbricht merely feared that the target would talk to the government for a lesser sentence. Ulbricht apparently believes that pre-emptive murder is justified. Do his defenders here share this view?

    Ulbricht had alternatives. He could have notified Silk Road users that their information had been compromised (which an honest businessman would have done, anyway), then closed the site and fled the country, perhaps going somewhere without an extradition treaty with the US government.

    In short, if the allegations against Ulbricht are true, I will have lost the considerable sympathy I had for him before his arrest. He comes across now as cocky and arrogant, and a fool to boot. He apparently believed that the wealth he amassed entitled him to kill anyone who threatened his status. In that sense, he would be the embodiment of the caricature that leftists paint of libertarians, i.e. those who believe in "rule by the rich."

    1. > "if the allegations against Ulbricht are true"

      They're not. The FBI has a long history of framing people with IQs of 80 in order to claim that they're busting terrorists. They can frame anyone in the digital realm if they have access to the mark's servers, as they did in this case.

      I have a new IQ test: If someone believes, without question, that someone is guilty of what the FBI charges, then I know that person is still too gullible to govern themselves.

    2. The guy didn't say "without question." He said "if'.' And if you believe that the likelihood is that this guy is innocent, you are dummy. If you believe the majority of people caught by the FBI are framed, you should be institutionalized. I've directly seen abuses by the FBI. I am also not a lunatic who believes the FBI makes framing people the standard course of action. This guy deserves his day in court and deserves due process. He may be innocent. He is overwhelmingly likely to be guilty though.

    3. > I am also not a lunatic who believes the FBI makes framing people the standard course of action.

      So by deduction, are you a lunatic that believes the Feds are on the up and up a majority of the time?

    4. Did you just watch Anon 2:39pm, or did you get in a few good swings?

  2. Smells like a setup. It could be that the FBI was both the "extortionist" and the "hitman" and the murder was faked.

  3. They're going to have to prove DBR is Ulbricht beyond a reasonable doubt. From just this brief overview they've got a lot of circumstantial evidence but no smoking gun. They likely have more proof if they charged him, or they knew what they would find once they got Silk Road's servers. i.e. They hacked in and were watching for some time. I wouldn't be surprised if they were able to piggy-back a Trojan like Flame from the Silk Road servers to Ulbricht's personal computers.

    The FBI will, illegally, use harassment (and other techniques, committing felonies in the process) to try and get a rise out of suspects. They'll do it without leaving evidence, while surveilling, then use the suspect's reaction against them in court. Since they (apparently) had access to Silk Road's servers, I wouldn't put it past the FBI to stage an extortion plot, nor can I really blame them if DBR was willing and able to put hits out on people. Though, it does make one wonder where the line is between good and evil. You know the saying: be weary battling monsters lest you become one.

  4. I actually went to school with the accused, and know him closely. Through friends and family a large part of this case looks to be fabricated. He was able to get excellent representation, but I honestly believe a large part of this is fabricated. A large part of the evidence against Ross has already been proven to be false (something you don't see in the media at all and is in the process of being thrown out). This isn't in regards to illegally obtaining evidence, but simply not the right guy. Some of the evidence though has proven to be true from what i've heard from close sources.