Both Of The Men Accused Of Running The Silk Road Made The Exact Same Mistake

Blake Benthall and Ross Ulbricht

The FBI arrested 26-year-old San Francisco tech worker Blake Benthall on Wednesday, accusing him of running the infamous deep web marketplace the Silk Road.

But Benthall wasn’t the founder of the site. Instead, his version of the Silk Road was often dubbed “Silk Road 2.0” to reflect the fact that it was a relaunched version of the original site.

The first incarnation of the Silk Road was shut down by the FBI in October 2013, after alleged founder Ross Ulbricht was arrested in a San Francisco library.

Court documents for the seizure of both the original Silk Road and the Silk Road 2.0 show that the site’s two alleged operators made the same error that enabled authorities to link them to the site.

Ross Ulbricht, the San Francisco resident accused of creating the original Silk Road, allegedly used a Silk Road user account which was registered to his personal email address.

The email account was also posted on the Bitcoin Talk forum as contact information for a poster looking to hire “an IT pro in the Bitcoin community.”

Ulbricht was caught in part due to the links between his personal Gmail account and other online accounts. It was trivially easy for investigators to string together usernames and IP addresses, with the help of information and IP logs obtained from Google.

The records show that Ulbricht regularly logged into a VPN service in a San Francisco internet café. On the same days he was allegedly using the VPN to mask his web traffic to the Silk Road’s administrative dashboard, Google’s records showed that he also checked his personal Gmail account.

After learning of the demise of his predecessor, surely the man behind the Silk Road 2.0 would take better care? It seems not.

The FBI briefly took the Silk Road 2.0’s servers offline in order to make a copy (known as an “image”) of the site. Because of the way the hosting account was set up, it fired off a series of emails to a pre-determined address in order to detail the site’s downtime.

Those emails, the FBI claim, went to, the personal email account of the San Francisco web developer accused of running the site.

Benthall used his personal email account to manage the web hosting account that the FBI says was used to keep the Silk Road 2.0 online. Additionally, he used that email address to create an account on a US-based Bitcoin exchange, and received his first transaction on the very day that the Silk Road 2.0 came online.

As the Daily Dot reports, Google again turned over IP logs and account information, this time for Benthall’s personal email account, to the FBI, revealing Benthall’s name and location information. It was obvious who owned the account: The email address was, it was registered to “Blake Benthall,” and IP logs show that it was accessed from Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe hotel rooms reserved under the name “Blake Benthall.”

There’s no denying that Ulbricht and Benthall were clever men, after all, the FBI accuses them both of running a complex deep web marketplace. Both men are alleged to have used modern anonymity services, and took care to anonymize their currency movements online.

But it was the simple mistake of using their personal email accounts for activities related to the Silk Road that made the FBI’s job easy, and likely led directly to their capture.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

My Daily Journal.........

Everything from my world to yours'......:)

The Perks of being Different

Just sharing some experiences :)


Confessions of a book-traveller

Digital Art Blog

Digital Art Blog — by Alex Markovich. Only new photos, drawings and music since September 1, 2017. E-mail: MarkovichUniverse AT


मुखपृष्ठ मच्छिंद्र माळी



Pen Paper and IT

This is my corner of the Net where I can relax and share my thoughts

Dear Dharma

Advice on almost anything…

Human Life Run

Mistakes Are Reality Of Life.


New Perspective on Life


Machhindra wordpress

indahs: dive, travel & photography

cities - cultures - ocean - marine life

The Beauty Along the Road

Discovering Beauty in the small details of our lives


A personal comprehensive compendum of related personal thought, diary, articles geared towards championing and alleviating the course of humanity towards the achievement of a greater society whereby all the inhabitants of the world are seeing as one and treated equally without any division along religious affinity, social class and tribal affliation.This is all about creating a platform where everybody interested in the betterment of the society will have a voice in the scheme of things going on in the larger society.This is an outcome of deep yearning of the author to have his voice heard across the globe.The change needed by all and sundry all over the globe starts with us individually.Our world will be a better place if every effort at our disposal is geared towards taking a little simple step that rally around thinking outside the box.


A great site

Ashes of Life

A journey to discover my own writing voice

The Blog of Travel

Motorbikes, dogs and a lot of traveling.

%d bloggers like this: