Stolen Bitcoin worth £3billion found in popcorn tin in hacker’s home after a decade

James Zhong stole 50,000 bitcoin from dark web marketplace, Silk Road, in 2012 and had been stashing the hidden devices in an underground safe and on a single board computer concealed in a popcorn tin.

Some of the contents of the underground floor safe in James Zhong’s Georgia home

U.S authorities announced they seized $3.36bn (£2.9bn) of stolen Bitcoin – including some hidden in a popcorn tin. The seizure last year from hacker James Zhong’s Georgia home was the largest in history at the time. The stash of 50,676 Bitcoin had been illicitly taken from an illegal darknet website in 2012. Officials found the haul in an underground safe and hidden on a single-board computer under blankets in a popcorn tin stored in a bathroom closet. Mr Zhong, 32, pled guilty on 4 November pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

A stolen sum of around £3billion in Bitcoin has been discovered in a property a decade after it was stolen on the dark web. Police finally solved one of the biggest Bitcoin busts of all time when they uncovered the stash in the home of James Zhong, 32, who had been hiding the cryptocurrency on computer devices, including one stored within a popcorn tin.

Zhong, from Georgia, US, pleaded guilty on Friday to committing wire fraud in 2012 after he hacked over 50,000 Bitcoin, which totalled to £2.9billion from dark web marketplace, Silk Road, the Mirror reports. The hacker now faces a 20-year prison sentence after police found the hidden devices in Zhong’s room in a safe under the floorboards and on a single board computer that was tucked away under blankets in a popcorn tin in his bathroom.

US Attorney, Damian Williams said the whereabouts of the huge chunk of bitcoin that went missing ten years ago had blown up and became a £2.9billion mystery. He said: “Thanks to state-of-the-art cryptocurrency tracing and good old-fashioned police work, law enforcement located and recovered this impressive cache of crime proceeds.”

Bitcoin’s digital currency is entirely virtual and completely out with the control of governments and central banks. It’s market wildly shifts as the value crashed to below £17,000 from £61,000 last year.

Zhong stole the online cash from Silk Road, which used to be an online black market where internet users could anonymously purchase and sell illegal goods, including drugs and fake drivers licenses. But the organisation was shut down in 2013 when a sting operation uncovered the 29-year-old, Ross Ulbricht, who was behind the illicit site.
James Zhong hacked more than 50,000 bitcoin worth £2.9billion from the dark web in 2012

He was given two life sentences for being the mastermind behind the criminal enterprise. Ulbricht argued that the district court that convicted him violated his Fourth Amendment with the search warrant they used to gather evidence from his laptop.

However, a US court rejected his appeal after declaring that the search warrants issued for his laptop, Google and Facebook accounts were specific and in keeping with the constitution. The 29-year-old was originally convicted for conspiracy and drug trafficking until the FBI seized his laptop and secured 30,000 bitcoins, totally to £54.5 million (roughly $70 million).
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“I wanted to empower people to make choices in their lives and have privacy and anonymity,” he said. However, he accepted that he had destroyed his life by breaching the law, even if he did not agree with it.

“I wish I could go back and convince myself to take a different path,” he confessed before the judge handed him the sentence after a three-hour hearing.

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