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Israeli computer scientists uncover Dread Pirate Roberts-Satoshi Nakamoto connection

November 24
9:18 PM 2013

Ross William Ulbricht, aka Dread Pirate Roberts, may be financially linked to Satoshi Nakamoto. John Markoff, in his report on The New York Times Bits, said two Israeli computer scientists have explored the connection between the operator of Silk Road who was recently arrested by the FBI for running the Internet blackmarket Silk Road and the entity that invented the bitcoin.

According to Dorit Ron and Adi Shamir, Silk Road had USD 1.2 billion in sales and commission of USD 80 million at the time Ulbricht was arrested in October. Ron is a computer scientist at the Weizmann Institute while Shamir is a cryptographer and a member of Weizmann Institute's faculty of applied mathematics. The two researchers, however, believe that the commissions seized by the FBI comprised only 22% of the total while they themselves have also been able to track only a third of the said commissions.

The two scientists have been looking into the bitcoin transactions made in order to understand how they are used in Silk Road. They were able to trace the interactions because even if the buyers and sellers remained anonymous, the transactions themselves are public. In one of the transactions traced, the scientists discovered that one transfer was made to an account controlled by Ulbricht to another set up in January 2009. The bitcoin network was established in 2008. The researchers said they could not prove that the said account belonged to the bitcoin currency inventor. However, it has been popularly believed that the first accounts in the early days of the bitcoin were those of Satoshi Nakamoto.

The authors also found a transfer of 1,000 bitcoin made on March 20 this year which they found interesting. The researchers said, "Such a single large transfer does not represent the typical behavior of a buyer who opens an account on Silk Road in order to purchase some narcotics (such buyers are expected to make an initial deposit of tens or hundreds of dollars, and to top the account off whenever they buy additional merchandise). It could represent either large-scale activity on Silk Road, or some form of investment or partnership, but this is pure speculation." The amount was worth USD 60,000 at the time of the transfer. It is now worth about USD 847,000 today, Markoff wrote.

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