Just goes to show, never trust a crook.
When they were robbed of over $100 million in Bitcoin, the victims of one of the largest virtual currency thefts in recent history went looking for the culprit. They spent countless hours putting the vaunted anonymity of Bitcoin to the test, all for nothing; whoever the mystery figure behind the Sheep Marketplace theft may be, he or she probably converted the coin to actual cash some time ago.
Sheep Marketplace was one of the darknet sites that sprang up after Silk Road went to its reward. It existed to help people purchase illegal goods online, but when a user allegedly exploited a bug in the system and stole 5,400 Bitcoin, Sheep Marketplace collapsed. “Your money, our provisions, all was stolen,” said Sheep’s administrators. Sheep’s customers didn’t believe that story, and suspected that the balance in their accounts – over $100 million worth in Bitcoin – had been stolen by Sheep.
They went looking for the stash. Bitcoin is notoriously difficult to trace, but they figured they had an advantage. A small Bitcoin amount is just one of many in the stream, but $100 million worth – over 90,000 Bitcoin – is a substantial amount, and would probably leave a trail. The hunt went on for days, as the victims began closing in on what they believed was their Bitcoin wallet.
Except it wasn’t their wallet at all. Yes, it was a substantial amount of Bitcoin, but the victims hadn’t found the thief. They’d found BTC-E, a digital currency exchange that handles roughly 33% of the world’s Bitcoin transactions. All those days of effort, wasted.
“I’m going home,” announced one of the main investigators on Reddit. “I’m tired, I’ve got no milk in the fridge, and I need to go back to my day job of driving about in a van, solving mysteries.”
Nobody knows who has Sheep’s cash; one suspect has gone to the Czech newspapers in an attempt to clear his name. But whoever did shear Sheep probably turned the Bitcoin into cash long ago, like a sensible criminal.