How Dread Pirate Roberts (Silk Road) got caught.

Trevor Creech
1 min readOct 2, 2013

Summarized from the criminal complaint:

  1. Advertised Silk Road days after its launch on drug forums and with the username “altoid”. 8 months later he used this username looking for developers and included his personal email ( in the message.
  2. Using records from a seized webserver, the FBI agent subpoena’d his way back through a private VPN server to an IP address at a coffee shop on Laguna street in San Francisco. This happened to be 500 feet away from the house of one of Ross Ulbricht’s friends.
  3. US Customs intercepted a package containing 9 pieces of counterfeit id. All 9 had photos of Ross Ulbricht with different names.
  4. Ulbricht posted on Stack Overflow using his real name, asking “How can I connect to a Tor hidden service using curl in php?”. One minute later he changed his username to “frosty”, but a subpoena shows the original name.

There are more details in the full criminal complaint, but it’s clear this guy was an amateur for someone running the largest drug dealing website in the world.

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