In an update to the two-year-old story of the Sheep Marketplace, Czech authorities have identified what they believe to be the owner, after discovering him trying to launder the money. Sheep Marketplace was a deep web market similar to Silk Road which shut down in December 2013 after claiming to be the victim of a hack, but even at the time this claim was suspicious, because withdrawals had stopped as long as a week prior to the announcement.
Biggest Exit Scam in Dark Web History
At the time, the missing Bitcoins were worth around $40 million, almost four times the size of the recent Evolution exit scam. Thomas Jiřikovský was caught attempting to launder some of the money when he bought an expensive house and tried to transfer large sums money to his girlfriend’s bank account. When questioned, his girlfriend, Eva Bartošová, had no good explanation for the transfer into her account of some 900,000 Crowns (~$36,000 USD). This kicked off an investigation into the couple’s finances overall. The first thing they discovered was that transfers from the same sources had previously been larger.
They were from Bitstamp, and through further investigation, they were discovered to be from Jiřikovský’s account there. Other transfers had taken place as far back as 2013 though these might have been “legitimate” proceeds from the marketplace, in that they were not stolen from the users.
The couple had previously dumped a large amount of the proceeds into a lavish estate they put into the name of Jiřikovský’s grandfather, Jan Goliath, but police were not fooled. “Houses have been paid in full from the funds received through transactions of virtual currency Bitcoin,” they reportedly told Hospodářské Noviny, the Czech economic news outlet.
Long-Held Suspicions Confirmed
Users of the web site have long suspected a few things. One that the owner of the marketplace was Thomas Jiřikovský. Two, that no hack ever took place. It’s all too common these days that Bitcoin marketplaces of the deep web and surface web variety claim a hack but are really just stealing the coins, but at the time, it would have taken some digging to make such a claim.
One user made the claim loud and clear, from very early on following the hack. His name is Karel Bílek and he is widely credited with uncovering the most evidence that the couple was in fact responsible not just for the exchange but the theft of all its coins as well.
Update: Karel wrote to CCN to say,
House Seized by Police
According to Hospodářské Noviny, the house the couple purchased near Hodonín, Czech Republic, has been seized by authorities pending investigation. Many believe that the couple will ultimately be found guilty of more than just money laundering, the original charge that got the police involved.
It seems that the days of the wild web are all but over, with nearly every great hub of illegal activity eventually coming to sort of an untimely end, be it implosion via greed or legal prosecution.
Images from Shutterstock and Softpedia.