4 October 2013
The hidden internet marketplace for drugs and illegal services, which is known as the Silk Road, has been shut down by the FBI. The owner of the site, which also advertises computer hacking, has been arrested in San Francisco.
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The Silk Road is a website that exists in a hidden part of the internet known as Tor, which allows people anonymous access by hiding their computer's identity and location.
For two and a half years the site has featured thousands of adverts for illegal drugs, services to hack into people's computers, counterfeiters and even hitmen for hire. Buyers pay using Bitcoin, an online currency not tied to any government, rather than credit cards, to protect their identity and make transactions untraceable.
The FBI has closed the site down and arrested the owner, named as Ross William Ulbricht, who is 29 and also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, in San Francsco.
The FBI said undercover officers used the Silk Road to buy illegal narcotics and services, and have charged Ulbricht with conspiracy to traffic drugs and conspiracy to hack and to launder money. More than $3.5m of Bitcoin currency was also seized.
The criminal papers, issued in New York, described the Silk Road as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the internet today.
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without revealing their name
people who make fake money and other items
- hitmen for hire
people who offer to kill others in exchange for money
impossible to find where or who it comes from
- undercover officers
agents of the law who use a disguise
secretly planning to do something bad or illegal
- to launder money
to move money through banks and legitimate businesses to disguise the fact it was obtained illegally
made complicated in a clever way