Since the arrest of Ross Ulbricht, allegedly Silk Road’s Dread Pirate Roberts, conspiracy theories have been coming thick and fast and they range from the plausible to the absurd.
A lot of them involve his friend Rene Pinnell, for whom Ulbricht relocated to San Francisco – either that Pinnell is the real DPR and set Ulbricht up for the fall right from the beginning, or they are in it together and will provide each other’s reasonable doubt. Then there’s the one that it’s all an ingenious ruse that is going to plan so that double jeopardy laws can be invoked later. Or it’s all a setup so law enforcement can be seen to have done something. Or there’s a good chance of parallel construction of evidence by the authorities.
I’m not much one for wearing a tinfoil hat, though I get a kick out of reading all the theories. But there has been something odd happening, which probably has a totally innocent explanation, but it’s a bit weird.
As any regular followers would know, I’m writing a book about Silk Road. I started researching the inception of the marketplace over a year ago and researched in earnest a few months ago. I had picked up on the post made by DPR in October 2012 where he said: “Regarding marketing, I started a thread on the Bitcoin forum. Everything else has been word of mouth”. That led me to the ‘altoid’ threads on Bitcointalk, spruiking Silk Road and I drew the same conclusion that ‘altoid’ was the founder of the site. But somehow I missed the big stinking smoking gun that was Ulbricht’s email address in one of altoid’s posts. I put that down to skimming the posts because they were technical and boring.
However, I also discovered there had been a user ‘silkroad’ on the Bitcoin forums. But all traces of that user had been obliterated from the forum – the user and his/her posts. I don’t know whether by the user or by bitcointalk, though I presume by the latter because a massive thread about the market disappeared as well. I took a screenshot of the sole remaining evidence that silkroad had ever existed on bitcointalk – where he/she was quoted by another user.
When they came back online, user “silkroad” made a reappearance, as did the thread introducing Silk Road. Of course, this might just be a result of the restoration process, but the timing is incredibly coincidental. Or maybe the forum owner decided it would be good click bait to have it there.
In any event, it severs the link between DPR’s post on Silk Road and Ulbricht.
So what do you think? Who removed evidence of “silkroad” from the forums and why have they resurfaced? And was the gmail address really always in the altoid post? Hit me up with your favourite conspiracy theories in the comments.