Ross Ulbricht, a former drug dealer, and owner of a darknet market an American now incarcerated at USP Florence High on a life sentence without the possibility of release. He is most known for founding the anonymous online marketplace Silk Road while using the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts.” Up to his arrest in October 2013, he managed the website for nearly two years, generating a $28.5 million Bitcoin profit. In February 2015, he was found guilty of conspiracy to trade in drugs, money laundering, computer hacking, and the distribution of false identification documents. Charges of soliciting the murder of a person who threatened to reveal site users were also brought against him. His friends, family, and associates asserted that they were unaware of his illicit internet activities and launched a campaign on www.freeross.org to rally support for his release. They argued that rather than being treated like a criminal, he should be treated as an advocate for privacy.
Early Childhood & Life
Ross Kirk and Lyn Ulbricht welcomed William into the world on March 27, 1984, in Austin, Texas. He was a Boy Scout and had reached the title of Eagle Scout while growing up in the Austin metro region.
He went to West Ridge Middle School and Westlake High School in the Austin area, where he graduated from high school in 2002. He then received a full academic scholarship to attend the University of Texas at Dallas, where he graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in physics.
He enrolled at Pennsylvania State University, where he pursued a master’s in materials science and engineering while studying crystallography. He developed an interest in Ludwig von Mises’ political theory when he was there, backed Ron Paul, and frequently advocated his economic theories in academic debates.
Career of Ross Ulbricht
After finishing his studies, Ross Ulbricht came back to Austin but struggled to find a regular job and tried in vain to launch his own day trading operation. His mother claims he experimented with “building an economic simulation” in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
Together with his friend and business partner Donny Palmertree, he built the online used book retailer Good Wagon Books, although with very modest success. He created the website, studied inventory control, and created a special script to calculate the price at which the used books should be offered for sale to online retailers like Amazon and Books-A-Million.
His friend handed over management of the firm to him when he accepted a job in Dallas in 2010, which led to the company’s phenomenal growth. Ulbricht, a proponent of libertarian philosophy, discovered Bitcoin about this time and believed it would end “coercion and aggression amongst humans.”
By this point, he had already made the decision to use the Tor encryption technology and Bitcoin to dodge law enforcement and was thinking about developing an online black market where anyone could buy anything anonymously. He initially thought about using the name “Underground Brokers,” but ultimately chose “Silk Road,” logging in as “Dread Pirate Roberts.”
He and Palmertree made the decision to shut down the business when the shelving at the Good Wagon Books warehouse collapsed in the early months of 2011. He had already put up his black market website by the middle of January to start selling psilocybin mushrooms, and his 10 pounds of stock quickly ran out.
As more sellers and customers flocked to the website, it quickly developed into a well-run community marketplace with profiles, listings, and transaction reviews. The location soon became an illegal drug hub, frequently shipping packages via ordinary mail and employing vacuum tactics to evade detection.
Arrest and Verdict
Gary Alford, an IRS agent collaborating with the DEA on the Silk Road case, was the first to notice that Ross Ulbricht was using the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts” in the middle of 2013. In the early days of the website, he had posted on a forum asking for programming assistance under the alias “altoid,” providing the email address that contained his complete name.
The FBI discovered that Ross Ulbricht was being blackmailed by a Silk Road user going by the moniker of “FriendlyChemist” in the middle of 2013 while monitoring every step he made. He allegedly gained access to another user’s account through hacking and promised to reveal a big list of names and identities of Silk Road users.
He then went to the Silk Road hitman’redandwhite’ to have FriendlyChemist killed. FBI records state that despite early disagreement over the job’s cost, it was successfully finished.
He was detained by the FBI in October 2013 at the San Francisco Public Library’s Glen Park branch for being the driving force behind the Silk Road underground marketplace. By distracting him with two agents who pretended to argue while a third grabbed the laptop and started copying data, the FBI made sure he didn’t have time to encrypt or delete the data on it.
He was accused of money laundering, hacking computers, conspiring to trade drugs, and procuring murder—the last accusation was withdrawn from the indictment but was considered when the judge handed down the punishment. He was found guilty on all charges following a jury trial in February 2015, and on May 29, 2015, he was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
He filed an appeal on January 12, 2016, and on May 31, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected it. The United States Supreme Court then received his final appeal, which he submitted on December 22, 2017, but his request for a rehearing was turned down in February 2018.
Personal Legacy & Life
Ross Ulbricht fell in love with undergraduate Julia Vie in 2008 while pursuing his master’s degree at Penn State. Ross Ulbricht invited Julia back to Austin after earning his degree the following year. She dropped out of school to live with him, and they started sharing a small apartment.
Before breaking up that summer, they had an on-and-off romance throughout 2010 and had experienced numerous breakups. Ulbricht was distraught. He was already struggling with his failing business ventures and rapidly dwindling alternatives.
The next year, when he was exploring the Silk Road, they dated for a short while until calling it quits that summer, at which point he left Austin and relocated to Australia. Additionally, he dated Jessica, and during their correspondence, he shared several things with her that he later regretted.
Despite making considerable money from the site, he relocated to San Francisco in 2012 and first lived with a few pals before settling in a humble area. Later, it was discovered that his two roommates, to whom he had paid $1,000 to rent a room, knew him only as “Josh.”
Ross Ulbricht’s Net Worth
Listed among the most well-known and wealthy computer scientists is Ross Ulbricht. According to our research, Ross Ulbricht’s net worth is approximately $28.5 million, as reported by Forbes, Wikipedia, and Business Insider.
The events surrounding Silk Road, Bitcoin, and the politics of the dark web are covered in the 2015 documentary “Deep Web,” which was filmed by Alex Winter and featured actor and Bitcoin enthusiast Keanu Reeves as the narrator. The trial of Ross Ulbricht is covered, and there are various interviews on the incident.
In response to the events that led to Ulbricht’s arrest, developer ‘Hephaest0s’ produced the anti-forensic kill switch program USBKill. In the event of unwanted access via USB ports, it has the ability to delete the hard drive, lock the screen, and encrypt data.