A Georgia resident has been sentenced to one year in prison following a $3.4 billion Bitcoin theft, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York announced April 14.
Zhong stole billions in BTC in 2012
The authorities said that James Zhong first committed wire fraud against Silk Road in 2012.
Through that action, Zhong stole over 51,680 BTC from the darknet market marketplace. That amount was worth $3.4 billion in 2012 and is worth $1.57 billion at present.
Zhong initially created multiple Silk Road accounts and funded those accounts with a lesser amount of Bitcoin. He then rapidly executed over 140 transactions in order to force the system to release Bitcoin to his accounts.
Zhong then transferred the stolen Bitcoin to multiple addresses in order to hide his ownership of the funds. He also used Bitcoin mixers to hinder tracking attempts.
He did not use the Silk Road marketplace to buy or sell items during the attack.
Zhong later benefited from the Bitcoin Cash hard fork in 2017, which provided him with additional funds. He traded all of the Bitcoin Cash for Bitcoin.
Zhong hid proceeds for more than 10 years
Zhong concealed his actions for over a decade, and law enforcement did not recover most of the stolen Bitcoin until a search of Zhong’s residence in November 2021.
Zhong hid his proceeds in a floor safe and in a single-board computer hidden under blankets and in a Cheetos popcorn tin. Enforcement agents also recovered various other items of value, including cash, precious metals, and Casascius physical bitcoins.
Zhong began to surrender undiscovered Bitcoin in March 2022.
The case is just one of many recent cryptocurrency-related actions from the DOJ. The agency has handled cases related to assorted scams, another Silk Road case, a Bitfinex theft, and individuals tied to the OneCoin scam.
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