- James Zhong stole over $3.4 billion worth of Bitcoin from Silk Road in 2012.
- Zhong exploited a system vulnerability by conducting more than 140 transactions in quick succession.
- Zhong hid the stolen Bitcoin in various locations until authorities discovered it in November 2021.
On April 14, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York declared that a Georgia inhabitant was given a one-year jail sentence for stealing $3.4 billion worth of Bitcoin.
According to authorities, James Zhong’s initial offense was committing wire fraud against Silk Road back in 2012. As a result, Zhong was able to steal more than 51,680 BTC from the darknet marketplace, which was worth $3.4 billion at the time and is currently valued at $1.57 billion.
Moreover, to carry out his theft, Zhong opened several accounts on Silk Road and deposited a small amount of Bitcoin into each. He then conducted more than 140 transactions in quick succession, effectively exploiting a vulnerability in the system and causing Bitcoin to be released to his accounts.
After stealing the Bitcoin from Silk Road, Zhong took steps to conceal his ownership of the funds by transferring them to multiple addresses and utilizing Bitcoin mixers to make tracking more difficult. Notably, he did not use the Silk Road marketplace to purchase or sell anything during the theft.
Subsequently, in 2017, Zhong profited from the Bitcoin Cash hard fork, which provided him with additional funds. He converted all of his Bitcoin Cash holdings into Bitcoin.
Despite committing the theft over a decade ago, Zhong was able to conceal his actions until November 2021, when law enforcement officials searched his residence. During the search, agents found the stolen Bitcoin hidden in a floor safe, as well as in a single-board computer that was concealed under blankets and inside a Cheetos popcorn tin.
In addition to the recovered Bitcoin, authorities also seized other valuable items such as cash, precious metals, and physical bitcoins from the Casascius brand.
In March 2022, Zhong initiated the surrender of previously undiscovered Bitcoin to authorities.