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Secret agents, pirates and cheaters: Bitcoin’s darkside
Bitcoin has always had a reputation problem. While the former currency of choice for drug-dealers and porn-peddlers on the so-called dark-net has gained some mainstream acceptance, its shadier past has come to the fore this week.
The most recent scandal is the story of Shaun Bridge, a 33-year-old former US secret agent who has pleaded guilty to stealing of $800,000 using bitcoin. According to Reuters, Bridges was supposed to be part of the investigation that brought down Ross Ulbricht, AKA Dread Pirate Roberts, the founder of dark-net marketplace Silk Road. Instead he exploited the chance for an illicit bitcoin windfall.
But perhaps an even more sordid story out this week was about the affair site, Ashley Madison. According to Business Insider, recently leaked user account information from the site is being used to blackmail hapless adulterers en masse...for bitcoin. Here is the message the blackmailers sent:
Unfortunately your data was leaked in the recent hacking of Ashley Madison and I now have your information. If you would like to prevent me from finding and sharing this information with your significant other send exactly 2.00000054 bitcoins (approx. value $450 USD) to the following address…
Unfortunate indeed. While it may be difficult to feel sympathy for people who play away, it does highlight how criminals can easily exploit the anonymity of bitcoin - something that no doubt puts many potential bitcoin adopters and investors ill at ease.
Photo: Vincent Diamante via Flickr