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Archive for the tag “worlds far away”

Final thoughts on the tale of Silk Road. Part 9.

Cover of “American Kingpin” from Amazon. Used under fair use.

This is the 9th and final part of a discussion of Silk Road, as discussed in American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. For the longer story, you may enjoy reading parts one, two, three, four, five, sixseven, and eight.

Other thoughts on the book

If you have previously been following the Silk Road story, you will enjoy the book. It reads like a good detective novel, except it is all true.

The book describes the mutual low opinion held of other federal agencies by the staff of most of the federal agencies that had a part in the investigation. This is not the first time I’ve read of those attitudes or heard of poor cooperation across agencies.

Lack of technical discussion

A couple of the reviews at Amazon indicate there is minimal technical detail in the book. That is absolutely the case.

Read more…

The Silk Road perps. Where are they now? Part 8.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

This is part 8 of a discussion of Silk Road, as described in American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. To learn how these three individuals earned an extended stay in federal housing, you may enjoy reading parts one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven.

Current status:

In good ol’ Dragnet style, where are bad guys now?

Here is the info from the federal Bureau of Prisons website:

Read more…

It didn’t end well for two of the feds investigating Silk Road. The tale of Silk Road, part 7.

The wages of corruption. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Two of the feds working on the Silk Road investigation went rogue. That did not turn out well for them.

This is part 7 of a discussion of Silk Road, as described in, American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. Check out parts one, two, three, four, five and six, if you wish. (Cross-post from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

Since the book was written, there have been more developments. I stumbled across the additional info after drafting this series of posts.

Let’s take a look at how things turned out for the two crooked federal agents.

What did the two feds do and what did they get for their trouble?

Read more…

Where did one guy wind up by making moral decisions with no moral frame of reference other than himself? The tale of Silk Road, part 6.

Mr. Ulbrecht’s housing for the rest of his life (plus the next 40 years). Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

How far did he go?

So as a result of running the drug bazaar called Silk Road, where did Ross Ulbricht wind up with his efforts to forcibly legalize drugs and simultaneously remove God from His throne and take over the throne for himself?

What did he get for his efforts? The feds claim he had tens of millions of dollars in his personal accounts.

(This is part 6 of a discussion of Silk Road, as described in, American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. Check out parts one, two, three, four and five, if you wish.)

He ran a web site at which he knowingly sold to anyone who could pay:

  • pot,
  • coke,
  • heroin,
  • many varieties of synthetic drugs,
  • equipment & supplies to manufacture drugs,
  • automatic weapons,
  • grenades,
  • rocket launchers,
  • body parts, including but not limited to:
  • livers,
  • kidneys,
  • bone marrow,
  • deadly poisons,
  • counterfeit identification,
  • counterfeit currency,
  • keystroke loggers,
  • spoofing software,
  • sundry hacking tools, and
  • fake passports.

He also contracted for and paid for what he thought was the murder of five people who offended him.

Read more…

The power of rationalization when you have no frame of reference other than your own opinion. The tale of Silk Road, part 5.

According to ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’, his ordering the execution of a renegade employee is morally the same as the U.S. President ordering one of the above wartime launches. Illustration courtesy of Adobe Stock.

This is the second of two posts describing the frightening power of rationalization on display in the story of Ross Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, as he developed the Silk Road website where you could buy anything you wanted. The story is told in American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. This is the fifth post in a series. You may enjoy reading parts one, two, and three.

You might want to read part four before diving into this wrap-up of the rationalization discussion.

How can body organs be okay?

Shall we extend this discussion into body organs?

I suppose there might be some way for informed consent to be given in a situation where a body organ is extracted and sold on the Dark Web. I can’t get my brain around it, but I suppose there might be some possible way to do so that would be consistent with libertarian concepts.

I have a real problem with thinking that organ providers in China gave informed consent.

Maybe I’m missing the boat or maybe just can’t stretch my brain far enough, but I don’t see how libertarian concepts can be used to justify the sale of either hand grenades, rocket launchers, or livers & kidneys. That seems to be a rationalization to do what you otherwise feel like doing.

There is even more rationalization in play.

How do beatings and torture fit in?

Read more…

The power of rationalization when you have no frame of reference other than your own opinion. The tale of Silk Road, part 4

fake grenade” by pat00139 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The frightening power of rationalization is clearly on display in the story of Ross Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, as he developed the Silk Road website where you could buy anything you wanted. The story is told in American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. This is the fourth part of a series. You may enjoy reading parts one, two, and three.

How did Dread Pirate Roberts get to the point where he allowed the sale of every imaginable drug, various explosives, and a range of body parts on the site he created and ran? How did he get to the place of hiring and paying for five assassinations?

The book provides insight to the shifting rationalizations. Journey with me as we explore in-depth how rationalization played out in this situation.

Read more…

How do you make moral decisions if you have no frame of reference other than your own opinion? The tale of Silk Road, part 3.

What Dread Pirate Roberts thought he paid for when he wired out a bunch of bitcoins. Not once, but five separate times. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Let’s see where he ended up with this Be-Your-Own-God routine.

The feds busted one recipient of a pound of cocaine.  He was a moderator on the Silk Road site. The feds kept this guy under wraps.

Dread Pirate Roberts, who also went by DPR, concluded that this person, who worked for Silk Road, had absconded with the dope and dropped out of sight. The feds gained control over the guy’s computer.

(This is part 3 of a discussion of a book on Silk Road, American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. Read parts 1 and 2. Since writing the initial draft of this series, I’ve added two more posts and another 700 words.)

An undercover fed pretending to be a big time drug dealer was in contact with DPR.  So during their conversations, DPR happened to complain that someone had ripped him off. This undercover cop offered to send some of his goons over to rough up the guy.  DPR agreed to have his correspondent get some of his guys over there to work over the double-crosser.

So Carl Force of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Shaun Bridges of the United States Secret Service pretended to torture this guy for DPR’s benefit by actually torturing the guy, taking pictures as they repeatedly dunked his involuntarily cooperating head in a bathtub full of water.

Read more…

How do you make moral decisions if you have no frame of reference other than your own opinion? The tale of Silk Road, part 2.

Above organs were reportedly available for purchase at Silk Road. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

While developing Silk Road, Mr. Ulbricht had a girlfriend, whom I won’t name. She knew he was raising and selling dope on the website and broke up when he would not end his involvement with the site.

(This is part 2 of a discussion of a book on Silk Road, American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. Part 1 here.)

His girlfriend came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior later in the book, well after they broke up. (Based on a few ways that the description of her conversion and faith are described, I will make a wild guess the author of the book is not a believer).

At one point when they got back together for a while, his girlfriend persuaded him to attend worship at what appears to be a charismatic congregation that operated without a formal pastoral leadership structure.

After the worship she asked him what he thought about the morals that were discussed during the worship service.

Read more…

How do you make moral decisions if you have no frame of reference other than your own opinion? The tale of Silk Road, part 1

On what basis do you decide which is the right path?   Image of “decisions” by Impact Hub is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

What is the relative moral ranking of people selling the following illegal products:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Weapons
  • Explosives
  • Lethal poisons
  • Harvested body parts

Early in the growth of the Silk Road, which was a hidden place on the internet where you could buy anything you wanted, and I mean aaaaanything imaginable, a debate emerged about the outer limit of products that would be allowed on the site.

The website was set up and run by Ross Ulbricht. Ultimately the feds busted him, his senior staff, and another couple hundred people who worked for Silk Road or sold stuff there.

Read more…

More worlds far away I’ll never visit, including a fraud education tidbit for CPAs.

Image of in-person illegal drug sale courtesy of Adobe Stock. I don’t quite know what image to use for an illegal on-line sale.

There are many dark places on the underside of life that I will never see. One item on the long list of reasons why I blog is to look into those places by explaining what I read on the ‘net. I describe those places as worlds far away that I’ll never visit.

Two topics for today:

  • Deep background on Silk Road, the marketplace for anything
  • Selling positive pregnancy tests online

From 2013 through 2015 I wrote about 10 articles on Silk Road and the Dread Pirate Roberts who ran that dark world where you could buy anything you wanted. You could buy drugs, weapons, forged passports, poison, anything. You can find my old posts here.

Turns out Dread Pirate Roberts (an unfortunate choice of names that sullies the reputation of one of the best slap stick movies ever!) is Ross William Ulbricht. He is currently serving a life sentence at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center. The Bureau of Prison website lists his release date as “Life.”

Now there is a full length book describing his assent to the peak of the dark world and descent into a life of free federal housing for the rest of his natural life. At a current age of 33, that will be a looooong time.

6/13/17 – Wall Street Journal – The Dark Web’s Dark Prince Review describes American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road.

Review summarizes the origin of Silk Road, its rapid growth, and challenges of running an organization with a billion dollars of illegal sales.

Reviewer suggests there is not really that much unusual about Mr. Ulbricht: he suggests people who love Ayn Rand, have extreme confidence, and can build a competent website are on both sides of each street at every corner of Silicon Valley.

Read more…

Second federal agent pleads guilty to stealing bitcoins from Silk Road

image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Two federal law enforcement officers have now entered guilty pleas to charges they stole bitcoins from the Silk Road site while they were part of the investigation of the site.

Other articles on Silk Road and the we-don’t-have-to-say-allegedly corrupt federal agents can be seen on the tag worlds far away I will never visit.

The Department of Justice announced the second agent’s plea on August 31: Former Secret Service Agent Pleads Guilty To Money Laundering And Obstruction.

DoJ said the agent pled guilty to the two felony charges brought against him: Read more…

We can change alleged to confessed when talking about the corrupt DEA investigator of Silk Road

This post continues the coverage of worlds far away I’ll never visit.

It is also in the you can’t make this stuff up category.

I previously discussed a federal DEA agent investigating Silk Road who allegedly got $100K from Dread Pirate Roberts for information about the investigation the agent was conducting and allegedly stole $297K from a customer of a bitcoin dealer. He allegedly invested in and was allegedly working for that company as their compliance officer.

Well, we can now drop the alleged and change it to confessed.

Oh, he had a movie deal too.

I will describe a few tidbits from news reports and then go deeper into the plea agreement.

Read more…

More weird stories from worlds far away I’ll never visit

One thread of discussions on this blog are worlds far away that I’ll never approach within distance of a light year. The only way I can get a glimpse of those places is with the super long distance telescope of the Internet.

Oh yeah, in case you were wondering what direction to aim your spaceship so you can see for yourself what is in those worlds, keep in mind that being a player on those distant planets can earn you a life sentence in federal prison. More on that at the end of this post.

5/28 – Wired – Inside a Giant Dark-Web Scheme to Sell Counterfeit Coupons – Yet another world I had no idea even existed: creating counterfeit discount coupons to use at the store.

A guy whom I will not name has been indicted for wire fraud and trademark counterfeiting for selling packages of counterfeit coupons good to get discount on a variety of consumer products. Send him $25, in Bitcoins of course, and you get a bunch of coupons.

He also offers a $200 course teaching you how to counterfeit your own coupons.

Read more…

More on weird worlds far away I’ll never visit. Two federal agents allegedly stole big bucks from Silk Road; one of them allegedly did shake down Dread Pirate Roberts. No, this is not an April 1st story.

Sometimes things go so weird you just gotta’ laugh. Satire site Onion is yet again outdone by reality.  Would you otherwise think this was satire?  Two federal agents allegedly ripped off Silk Road, allegedly ripped off Dread Pirate Roberts, and otherwise allegedly stole a ton  stack  pile  truckload  whole bunch of bitcoins. 

3/30 – Wall Street Journal – Former Federal Agents Charged With Stealing Bitcoin During Probe

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says Read more…

Some data points on pricing in newly legal recreational marijuana. We can already see distortions created by regulation.

Comments by a reader of my blog informed me that wholesale prices of state-legal-federally-illegal recreational marijuana have dropped dramatically. That got me to wondering what has happened to the pricing.

I’m am otherwise totally clueless of the pricing in this market. What I know I learn by reading the ‘net.

Just so everyone knows, I am following this story because it is a natural experiment to see the impact of crushing regulation imposed on a newly emerging industry.

The commenter shared a recent report on CNBC quoting a producer saying the wholesale prices had dropped from $1,700 to $2,200 per ounce down to $700 per ounce.

The range in price is due to different qualities. That would give wholesale prices in the range of $60 to $77 per gram in the recent past to around $25/gram currently.

That gives these data points:

  • Wholesale
  • $1,700 to $2,200 per ounce sometime prior to the CNBC article
  • $700 per ounce at the time of the CNBC article (date unknown)

So using the ‘net, which is the most incredible educational tool ever invented, I search for about 10 minutes and found a lot of great info. Spent another 10 minutes reading promising articles and found the following:

Read more…

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