Exactly one year ago today, the Silk Road 2.0 went live in an attempt to fill the void left in the online black market community when its predecessor was seized by the FBI. Today, visitors to the deep web marketplace are being greeted with a notice that Silk Road 2.0 has met the same fate. But it doesn't end there. The FBI, in a joint effort with the Department of Homeland Security and Europol, have shut down the website and reportedly arrested 26-year old Blake Benthall, the website's alleged operator. Benthall is accused of operating the website under the alias "Defcon" and is being charged with drug trafficking and multiple conspiracy related charges, including money laundering and computer hacking.
In a related story on the other side of the world, two men were arrested in Ireland on Wednesday in connection with a global drug trafficking operation run on the darknet. This arrest marks the first made by Irish authorities over drug dealing on the deep web. Authorities seized copious amounts of various drugs, valued at around 180,000 euros, as well as around 2 million euros worth of bitcoin. The arrests followed weeks of surveillance as part of the previously mentioned joint effort between Europol, the FBI and numerous other agencies, codenamed Onymous, aiming to disrupt illegal activity on the darknet. This effort also comes two weeks after New York Senator Chuck Schumer published an open letter calling for a renewed crackdown on the online drug trafficking industry. And the Silk Road is just the tip of the iceberg, as reports are coming in that this crackdown has forced the closure of many other darkweb marketplaces as well, including Cannabis Road, Cloud Nine, Dark Bay, and Tor Bazaar.
32-year-old Trendon Shavers of McKinney, Texas was charged today under suspicion of misappropriating about 146,000 of his investors' bitcoins. Prosecutors are calling this the first federal criminal securities fraud case relating to a bitcoin ponzi scheme. Shavers promised new investors approximately 7% percent weekly interest based on his abilities to trade professionally, while actually using their bitcoins to pay back old investors and fund miscellaneous expenses from vehicular purchases to casino visits. The case follows a September court order that Shavers pay over $40 million dollars comprised of illegal profit, fines and interest in a related ongoing SEC civil lawsuit. Shavers currently faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as a fine due to the security fraud count.
Merchant solutions provider Paymium announced a partnership with micropayment specialist Optelo on Tuesday, and has expanded its bitcoin-accepting platform to include an impressive 10,000 merchants. The French startup provides a number of large-scale services to companies ranging from call-tracking solutions to monetization directories and secures several million euros each year.
Open source bitcoin wallet Dark Wallet has released its latest edition known as Alpha 7. While the new release does bring various structural changes, such as Interface translation support and a New Keyring structure, users are warned that the update is labeled "Alpha," which suggests that the software is still experimental and may contain various bugs or technical issues. Those with previous editions of the Dark Wallet are thoroughly advised to read the instructions carefully before upgrading.
UK-based cryptocurrency exchange CEX.IO has recently added darkcoin to its trading platform. The announcement comes just as darkcoin has been experiencing a massive drop in market cap, and CEX.IO is looking to help the cryptocurrency become more liquidated than ever. The exchange is also offering darkcoin users the option to cloud mine their own units, ensuring that their services remain time effective, smooth and affordable.
NBA-affiliate basketball team The Santa Cruz Warriors has entered a partnership with electronic payment processor Paystand to facilitate bitcoin payments for online ticket purchases. Paystand will also serve as the team's first sponsor, so fans shouldn't be surprised to see their logo on players' jerseys.The Warriors now join the Sacramento Kings as the only basketball groups to accept bitcoin for ticket and merchandise sales.