If the Bitcointalk hackers are reading this, can you please let me know if I’m a lousy journo and missed the smoking gun, or if it was part of a deleted post?
I originally wrote the below in response to a lengthy, well thought-out comment by a reader on a previous blog about the changing face of Dread Pirate Roberts. But then I figured, why waste what became the length of a blog post in itself? So here is my comment, recycled and slightly amended.
I’ve been mulling over the conclusions I drew in my blog post a few weeks ago, “Which Pirate is That?” in light of revelations from the FBI documents following the arrest of Ross Ulbricht. Clearly, if the FBI docs are accurate – the gmail address was linked to altoid in 2011 and they swooped on Ulbricht as he was logged in as DPR – then it looks like there was only ever one DPR.
I also found the altoid connection on Shroomery and Bitcointalk when I was researching the chapter in my book on Silk Road’s inception and I also concluded it was the owner spruiking his site. But I never spotted the gmail address, which surprises me. Naturally I can’t check now because Bitcointalk is down. But what I wrote at the time was: “The user ‘altoid’ on Bitcointalk apparently deleted those early posts (or the site did), which can now only be found quoted in later members’ responses . However, altoid remained active on the Bitcointalk forums until August 2012.”
I could, of course, have overlooked the gmail address, but given the time I put into researching those early days I would be surprised. It makes me wonder if the FBI was able to retrieve deleted posts by subpoenaing Bitcointalk.
I am 100% sure that there was more than one person posting in the forums as DPR. The most recent, chatty, incarnation was nothing like the former DPR, and the “change my style to fool everybody” explanation doesn’t cut it. He didn’t just change his style, he changed his IQ level and entire personality. I’m also pretty sure the DPR I exchanged PMs with over the years changed at least once.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean there was a change of owner – DPR could have done an Atlantis and hired a mouthpiece who was essentially just a PR person and had no connection with the actual business.
As for the interview with Forbes, it surprised me too. DPR *always* gave me a quote for any article I was writing, but it was always of the soundbite variety – a couple of lines. Then in August he delighted me by granting me a long interview on a specific topic (which I haven’t written up yet) on the proviso it was embargoed until September. I thought my two years of correspondence with him had finally paid off and gave myself a grand old pat on the back. I later realised the embargo was because he must have already done, or been part way through, Forbes and promised Greenburg the exclusive.