US agent Carl Force caught stealing bitcoin on the Silk Road case sentenced to seven years in prison

Clara Guibourg
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Bitcoin was too tempting for one DEA agent (Source: Getty)

A US federal agent has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin, while he was supposed to be investigating the Silk Road case.

Former Drug Enforcement Authority agent Carl Force was working to take down the infamous dark web drug trafficking site. But things took a turn for the very weird as he became unable to resist the temptation to make a little extra (well, a lot extra, actually) on the side, by plundering bitcoin worth hundreds of thousands alongside his investigation.

By creating several online identities, he tried to extort Silk Road’s founder Ross Ulbricht into paying him off.

Force will now be spending the next 78 months in prison, with the judge describing his actions as a “breathtaking” betrayal of public trust.

Read more: Silk Road prevented violence and was a "transformative" criminal innovation

Silk Road was shut down in 2013, but during the two years it was operational the site netted bitcoin sales of over $200m of drugs and other illicit items. Ross Ulbricht, who went by the memorable alias “Dread Pirate Roberts”, was sentenced to life imprisonment during a highly-publicised case. ‚Äč

Force isn’t the only federal agent to fall foul of bitcoin temptation whilst on the case. Former secret service agent Shaun Bridges has also admitted to laundering over $800,000 worth of the digital currency to his personal account.

Following Bridges’ guilty plea assistant attorney General Caldwell said in a statement that this showed the importance of holding wrongdoers accountable “no matter who they are”:

There is a bright line between enforcing the law and breaking it. Law enforcement officers who cross that line not only harm their immediate victims but also betray the public trust.

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