The agent who pleaded guilty in July to stealing $700,000 worth of bitcoin has been jailed for his crimes.
US undercover Drug Enforcement Agent, Carl M. Force was handed a prison sentence of 6 and a half years for admitting to charges of money laundering, obstruction of justice, and extortion.
As part of the special DEA task force, Carl M. Force was also the lead undercover agent in the investigation, and frequently in communication with Ulbricht between 2012 and 2014 as the DEA sought to bring the illegal Silk Road marketplace down.
Carl M. Force was originally sent undercover in an attempt to flush out Silk Road founder, the “Dread Pirate Roberts,” -Ross Ulbricht to give him his real name. The now defunct Silk Road, setup in 2010, was a hidden online marketplace that is widely believed to have been the middle man for over $180 million worth of drug deals before it was shut down.
Bitcoin is digital currency that is not controlled by any government, and not limited by international rules on finance. Users can buy and sell goods using in a way that allows them to remain anonymous, using unique codes. This makes Bitcoin a popular choice for funding criminal activity.
Silk Road wasn’t however just an emporium for the sales of drugs. It was also allegedly a market place where people could buy and sell weapons, and also hire hitmen.
Carl Force however found the temptation of the supposedly untraceable bitcoin digital currency too much, and while gaining the trust of Ulbricht, he began to deceive the DEA that he worked for as well. His official codename he used was ‘Nob,’ but Force also began using the nom de guerre, ‘French Maid,’ which he used to be paid in bitcoin, and that he assumed would not arouse suspicion of his colleagues in the DEA.
Force used his extensive specialist skills to convince Ulbricht to pay in bitcoins in exchange for information about a corrupt government employee. The government employee was though entirely fictional. Instead of revealing the payments to the DEA however, Force cashed out his accumulated bitcoins and deposited the money across several personal bank accounts in secret.
20th Century Fox
Most sensible people would think that after having sold $700,000 from part of an ongoing investigation that keeping a low profile would be the most sensible option. Force however, also somehow managed to convince 20th Century Fox to pay him $240,000 as a consultant on the film studio’s Silk Road investigation adaptation. The consultancy role was garnered without the DEA’s permission.
Force not the First
Carl M. Force is however not the first law enforcement official to be convicted of bitcoin theft. A 32 year Secret Service agent by the name of Shaun W. Bridges, admitted eaqrlier this year to stealing 20,000 bitcoins and turning them into $820,000 via a Japanese currency exchange. Bridges took control of an administrator account on Silk Road, and then used his access to reset passwords and steal approximately from numerous Silk Road wallets before cashing out. Bridges will be sentenced later this year.
Ross Ulbricht was found guilty in May of running Silk Road and sentenced to life in prison.