A Georgia man faces as much as 20 years in jail after greater than $3 billion in stolen Bitcoin was discovered stashed in a popcorn tin at his dwelling in what authorities name the second largest seizure of cryptocurrency.
James Zhong, 32, pleaded responsible on Friday to stealing the Bitcoin a decade in the past from the unlawful Silk Highway market, which the FBI shut down in 2013.
The U.S. Division of Justice introduced this week that authorities raided Zhong’s Gainesville dwelling in November 2021 the place they discovered 50,676 Bitcoin with a worth of $3.36 billion on the time.
The raid resulted within the second-largest seizure of cryptocurrency, following the $3.6 billion in stolen crypto linked to the 2016 hack of crypto alternate Bitfinex, however cryptocurrency has since dropped in worth.
Bitcoin hit a two-year low of $15,632. Ether, the subsequent largest cryptocurrency, prolonged losses on Wednesday to hit its lowest since July.
Zhong pleaded responsible to at least one rely of wire fraud, which carries a most sentence of 20 years in jail. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on February 22, 2023.
James Zhong, 32, of Gainesville, Georgia, pleaded responsible to wire fraud for the theft of $3.36 billion in Bitcoin stolen from the Silk Highway darkish internet web market again in 2012
Authorities discovered the stolen Bitcoin and money hidden in a ‘single board pc’ that was stashed inside a popcorn tin and saved in a toilet closet at Zhong’s dwelling
Lt. Shaun Barnett of the Athens, Georgia police division instructed media outlet Protos that Zhong known as the police in 2019 to ‘report a housebreaking.’
Zhong was residing in Athens, Georgia in 2019 when he known as police and reported that he had many belongings stolen, together with ‘numerous bitcoin,’ which was apparently grabbed the eye of the IRS Legal Investigation (IRS-CI) unit.
The money was by no means recovered, nor was a suspect recognized, however the housebreaking and sum of money reported stolen ‘raised a crimson flag with the IRS,’ Barnett stated.
Following an investigation, a search warrant was served and the IRS-CI and Athens police division made an arrest in November of 2021.
Federal officers say the stolen Bitcoin was discovered once they served the search warrant at Zhong’s Georgia dwelling, fixing a decade-long thriller.
The digital tokens had been hidden in a ‘single board pc’ that was stashed inside a popcorn tin and saved in a toilet shut of Zhong’s dwelling.
Authorities additionally seized $662,000 in money, bodily Bitcoin cash, an 80 % curiosity in a Memphis-based actual property funding firm with substantial holdings, together with 11 1-ounce bars of silver and gold.
‘James Zhong dedicated wire fraud over a decade in the past when he stole roughly 50,000 Bitcoin from Silk Highway,’ U.S. lawyer Damian Williams stated in an announcement this week.
‘For nearly 10 years, the whereabouts of this large chunk of lacking Bitcoin had ballooned into an over $3.3 billion thriller. Because of state-of-the-art cryptocurrency tracing and good old style police work, regulation enforcement situated and recovered this spectacular cache of crime proceeds.’
Prosecutors stated Zhong executed a scheme to defraud ‘Silk Highway’ darkish internet market. They stated he made 9 accounts September 2012 and would then flood the positioning with withdrawal requests, which tricked the positioning into giving him multiples of what he had deposited.
After doing this 140 instances, he had withdrawn the entire web site’s cryptocurrency holdings. He then transferred the Bitcoin into separate accounts to maintain it from being detected.
Authorities seized $662,000 in money, bodily Bitcoin, 80 % curiosity in a Memphis-based actual property funding firm with substantial holdings, and silver and gold-colored bars
Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, hit a two-year low of $15,632. Ether, the subsequent largest cryptocurrency, prolonged losses Wednesday to hit its lowest since July
Silk Highway is an internet black market used to distribute unlawful medicine and items to patrons, in response to the U.S. Lawyer.
‘Mr. Zhong executed a complicated scheme designed to steal bitcoin from the infamous Silk Highway Market,’ Particular Agent in Cost Tyler Hatcher stated.
‘As soon as he was profitable in his heist, he tried to cover his spoils by way of a collection of advanced transactions which he hoped could be enhanced as he hid behind the thriller of the darknet.’
Starting in March 2022, Zhong started voluntarily surrendering to the federal government further Bitcoin that he had entry to and had not dissipated. In complete, he voluntarily surrendered 1,004 further Bitcoin.