Apparently Hiring An Actual Hitman Online Is More Difficult Than Dread Pirate Roberts Imagined

from the 0-for-6 dept

The big news out of the latest filing from the government against Ross Ulbricht as the alleged "Dread Pirate Roberts" of Silk Road is that they've now upped the number of people he hired hitmen to kill from two all the way to six. As in the past, reading the actual government filing is fascinating, and will require a rewrite of whatever script Hollywood is currently rushing into production about Ulbricht's story. Reading through the details, Ulbricht appears to have been more or less goaded into agreeing to "kill" four more people, after the guy who supposedly ran the hit on one of Ulbricht's blackmailers told him that there were other people in on the blackmail plot. Ulbricht comes off as incredibly credulous and the guy he paid, a user named "redandwhite", appears to have taken full advantage of this blind trust:
Two days later, on April 8, 2013, “redandwhite” offered to “hit [Victim-3] only” for “150 [thousand] just like last time.” However, “redandwhite” cautioned that, if they only took out Victim-3 and not Victim-3’s three co-residents, they would not be able to “do [the hit] at their place because there are always at least a few of them there . . . . So we wouldn’t be able to recover any of his things.” “redandwhite” stated that he would “prefer to do all 4” in order to have a “chance of recovering any potential product/money he may have,” adding: “Anything recovered would be split 50/50 with you.” “redandwhite” quoted Ulbricht a price of “500k USD” to do “all 4.” Ulbricht responded later that day: “hmm… ok, I’ll defer to your better judgment and hope we can recover some assets from them.” Ulbricht added that he had gone ahead and sent “$500k in btc [Bitcoins] (3,000 @ $166/btc)” to a Bitcoin address designated by “readandwhite” as payment. As with Ulbricht’s prior transfer to “redandwhite,” this transfer of 3,000 Bitcoins also appears on the Blockchain, confirming that it was in fact sent.

One week later, on April 15, 2013, “redandwhite” wrote to Ulbricht: “That problem was dealt with. I’ll try to catch you online [on a chat service] to give you details. Just wanted to let you know right away so you have one less thing to worry about.” Ulbricht replied: “thanks, see you on chat.”
Now, since five of the six "hits" were all "done" by the same guy -- and those last four really look like him just taking advantage of a gullible Ulbricht -- perhaps this isn't so much about the difficulty in hiring a hitman online as it is about how easy it is to fool Ross Ulbricht. Still, it strikes me as somewhat revealing that someone could pay significant sums of money to conduct six assassinations, and not a single one of them actually occurred. Once again, not everything people claim online turns out to be true.

That said, there is so much more evidence now being presented against Ulbricht, including his journal that covers the whole plan from the start up until his arrest, that Ulbricht's claims that it's not him are looking very, very weak. It also appears to disprove the claim that has been made by some that Ulbricht didn't start Silk Road, but was merely one in a line of DPRs. That appears to simply be a myth that Ulbricht used, playing off of his username and its namesake in The Princess Bride.

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  • icon
    Nastybutler77 (profile), 22 Nov 2013 @ 1:54pm

    If you can't trust a hitman you found online, who can you trust?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2013 @ 2:06pm

    I still don't buy it. However, how many room mates did he have? It occurs to me that he may have been taking a hit out on himself. The people that run these ops seem to have an incredible sense of irony... and they really do frame and kill people...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 22 Nov 2013 @ 2:14pm

    This is hilarious, because when I first read about the whole thing with people using Silk Road to hire hitmen online, the first thing I thought of was, "completely anonymous people using untraceable currency... someone ought to pretend to be a hitman, demand payment up front, and cash in!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christenson, 22 Nov 2013 @ 6:17pm

    Has to be a FIRST DPR!

    There has to be a first Dread Pirate Roberts...too bad for him he failed to resolve the issue of truly not knowing just who it is or the true situation at the far end of the internet connection!

    It is also a very basic problem of a market in anything physical that while it may be possible to send something anonymously, a receiver must reveal himself to one or more senders. Once DPR and his helpers became receivers, they became much easier to find.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    aldestrawk (profile), 22 Nov 2013 @ 7:34pm

    More acting than in Hollywood

    I think it's important to note that Ulbricht has only been charged with one attempted hit as described in the Maryland grand jury indictment. The prosecution is only talking about the other 5 as an argument to deny bail.

    Ulbricht doesn't seem to be too concerned about money. He was not living a lavish lifestyle although the Government claims he earned some $460 million in commissions. He certainly had at least 144,000 bitcoins (~$20 million). He expresses concern about recovering funds from the 4 additional targets, yet he is paying redandwhite et. al. (supposedly, the Hells Angels) $500,000 for the hit plus 50% of any funds recovered. The hit on friendlychemist cost Ulbricht #150,000. So, Ulbricht is spending $650,000 to recover some portion of the $500,000 he paid out in extortion money. He is trusting, supposedly, the Hells Angels to tell him how much they actually recovered plus they get to keep half of that. Now, I'm not a CPA or even a businessman, but that doesn't seem to make economic sense.

    What we have heard about Ulbricht gives the impression that he is a pretty smart person, yet what he is supposedly doing with these hits seems both naive and incredibly stupid, in addition to exhibiting a callous view of violence that I think is out-of-character. I think the more likely scenario is that Ulbricht was trying to manage SR so that problem people would go away. The game he played meant paying off extortioners and subsequently playing out a charade of hiring hit-men to intimidate and discourage follow-up extortion. I think he knew he was always dealing with people who were trying to play him and this was the best scheme possible to stop that. In other word he knew that the people he was paying to arrange a hit had no intention of doing so. This includes the UC whom Ulbricht probably suspected was, in fact, law enforcement.

    If it turns out my theory is incorrect, I can always sell the screenplay, based on it, to Hollywood.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 22 Nov 2013 @ 10:05pm

      Re: More acting than in Hollywood

      144,000 bitcoins is worth $120 million now, so you can see that 150k was not a significant amount of money to DPR.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 23 Nov 2013 @ 11:25am

    Hitman Online? Sounds like a video game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Skeptical, 18 Feb 2016 @ 5:32pm

    I don't belive

    I don't belive any of these things about Ulbrich..

    It looks to me like fabriqued evidence.

    How could someone run a illegal operation like this and keep a full journal with the plan, and complete logs of conversations?

    How could someone use an unencrypted laptop and add that laptop on a list with assets of his business to sell?

    How could he be so stupid to pai 500 000 $ to a unknown hitman to kill 5 people?

    It doesn't add up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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