Secret Service Agent Who Pleaded Guilty To Stealing Bitcoin From Silk Road Trying To Change His Name
from the flight-risk-or-concerned-about-opm-hack dept
So, yes, you had a DEA agent, Carl Force, who was already moonlighting for a Bitcoin company, and who used his position as a DEA agent to steal a bunch of money from a customer of that Bitcoin company, befriending Ross Ulbricht of Silk Road while supposedly "investigating" him. Then, you had a colleague of Force's, the Secret Service agent Bridges, go and steal a bunch of Bitcoin from Silk Road immediately following the arrest of Curtis Green, one of Ulbricht's top lieutenants. Green revealed his admin login, and Bridges just went in and took a ton of money. Ulbricht then contacted Force, to help him kill Green, because Ulbricht believed that Green had stolen the money that Bridges had actually stolen. It's so complicated it feels like it needs a graphic to explain it all, but even that might be too confusing.
Either way, earlier this summer, Force pleaded guilty, and earlier this week Bridges also pleaded guilty. In both cases, some interesting additional information came out. With Force, it was that, prior to his own arrest, he'd apparently sold the rights to his story of tracking down Ulbricht to Fox for $240,000. As the government pointed out, this was a conflict of interest (you think?).
With Bridges, it's that he had been attempting to change his name and social security number, leading the judge to wonder if he was a flight risk. According to Joe Mullin at Ars Technica:
Before the proceeding ended, prosecutor Katherine Haun mentioned that the government had just received information that gave them concerns that Bridges could be a flight risk.Bridges' lawyer came up with an excuse that is so ridiculous that it literally made me laugh out loud. Bridges wasn't trying to change his first name, last name and social security in order to disappear from the law, or to avoid the reputational harm of being known as a former Secret Service agent who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from an operation he was investigating... but because he was so, so worried about the recent OPM hack of government employee files. Bridges, of course, was a government employee:
"The defendant had been actively trying to change his name and social security number in the state of Maryland," she told the judge. "That's very concerning."
According to Hahn, Bridges had tried to change his last name to be the same as his wife's last name and change his first name to "a very odd name." She also noted that Bridges had handed over four firearms after he was charged, and if he changed his name he could again be able to acquire weapons.
Bridges' lawyer said his client's name change attempts had been a response to concerns about identity theft following the widely reported hacking into US federal government personnel files.Somehow, among the millions of others concerned about the OPM hack, you don't hear too many stories about them trying to change their first and last names along with their social security number...
"Those of who work in the federal government have to deal with that," said Seeborg. "When you're concerned with flight risk, activity of this kind sends up a lot of red flags. I’m not surprised they’re bringing this to my attention."