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Justice Department seizes $3.4 billion in stolen bitcoin

Nov. 7, 2022 Updated Mon., Nov. 7, 2022 at 5:06 p.m.

By Tory Newmyer Bloomberg

The Justice Department recovered nearly $3.4 billion worth of bitcoin that a Georgia real estate developer stole a decade ago from the dark web marketplace Silk Road, the department announced Monday.

James Zhong, the 32-year-old behind the theft, pleaded guilty Friday to a single count of wire fraud. Federal agents tracked down the stolen digital loot a year ago, when they searched Zhong’s house in Gainesville, Ga., and found devices storing the bitcoin in an underground floor safe and under blankets in a popcorn tin stashed in his bathroom closet, prosecutors said in an affidavit.

“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,” Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “This case shows that we won’t stop following the money, no matter how expertly hidden, even to a circuit board in the bottom of a popcorn tin.”

The action ranks as the department’s second-largest crypto seizure ever, according to the department.

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