Readings — From the April 2015 issue

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From online messages found on Ross Ulbricht’s laptop in 2013 by FBI agents. Ulbricht, then twenty-nine, was arrested while working on his computer in a San Francisco public library. In February of this year, he was convicted of running Silk Road, an online marketplace that facilitated $200 million in illegal drug sales, under the alias Dread Pirate Roberts. The identities of Red and White, who claimed to be a member of a Canadian drug ring affiliated with the Hells Angels, and FriendlyChemist remain unknown. Ulbricht has been indicted in a separate case in Maryland for the attempted murder of a witness.

friendlychemist: Can you please get Dread Pirate Roberts to message me right away? It’s a matter of life and death.

dread pirate roberts: What can I do for you?

fc: I am LucyDrop’s supplier. Because he showed me the chat logs of how you made him the #1 seller on Silk Road, I lent him $900k of product. He paid me $200k and started avoiding me. That was not my money! Are you guys pulling a scam?! Why? I’m scared for my family!

dpr: I’m really sorry for your situation. I have never had such a conversation with LucyDrop. He/she must have made it up to trick you.

fc: I find it very hard to believe. Please don’t screw me like this! I’m not this kind of person but the only card I have left to play is dropping dozens of vendor identities and thousands of customer details on the web. I don’t want to do that! I just want my money! The people I borrowed from are not regular people!! Please!

dpr: Have your suppliers contact me so I can work something out with them. Do not tell them that I owe you money. That is not true and will only complicate matters. Tell them the truth, that you’re blackmailing me to get them their money.

 

red and white: I was asked to contact you. FriendlyChemist tells us you owe him money and a long boring story about some of this and some of that. As far as we are concerned, we gave him the product. Where it went and how does not matter. We hold him and only him responsible.

dpr: Thank you for getting in touch. Just to be clear, I do not owe him any money, but he has told me his situation and wants my help. I wanted to see if we could come to a conclusion that works for everyone.

r&w: FriendlyChemist refuses to meet up with us because of what he fears will happen. People are starting to suspect that he will go to the police.

dpr: In my eyes, FriendlyChemist is a liability and I wouldn’t mind if he was executed, but then you’d be out your $700k.

r&w: We’ve kidnapped FriendlyChemist’s partner Xin and were able to recover all our lost product. We don’t take too kindly to thieves. He’s gone.

dpr: FriendlyChemist is causing me problems. Are you still looking for him? What would be an adequate amount to motivate you to find him? If you can find his location, that may be enough to scare him off.

r&w: If I find his location and you use it to scare him, there’s a chance he will switch locations again. It will be a lot more difficult to find him after that. If you want to deal with him the other way, price varies. To look like an accident would cost a lot more. It wouldn’t be suspicious. He would just leave home one day and not return. How much does he owe you?

dpr: He doesn’t owe me anything, but he is threatening to expose the identities of thousands of my clients. This is unforgivable. Especially here on Silk Road, anonymity is sacrosanct.

r&w: Price for clean is $300k+. Price for non-clean is $150k–$200k.

dpr: Don’t want to be a pain, but the price seems high. Not long ago I had a clean hit done for $80k. Are the prices quoted the best you can do?

r&w: I’m sorry, but if 150 does not work for you, we are going to have to pass. We use professionals, and we pay them a good price.

dpr: Thank you R&W. I’ve only ever commissioned the one other hit, so I’m still learning this market. I have no problem putting my faith in you, and I am sure you will do a good job. Good luck and be safe.

 

r&w: Your problem has been taken care of. They questioned him and he spilled everything. He said that he and Xin were working together to blackmail you and that they were brought in by a third guy. They got that guy’s name also. I will give that to you free of charge.

dpr: Excellent work. Please send any info you can get on this third party.

r&w: Okay, here is the information extracted from FriendlyChemist: They were working with a guy — real name of Andrew Lawsry. He told them how to rip people off and asked for a percentage in return. Tony76 and Nipplesuckcanuck were two of his seller accounts.

dpr: What do you think about going after Lawsry? This guy has probably ripped off millions from me and the rest of the Silk Road community.

r&w: I need to do some asking around to see what kind of information my guys can get on him. Would you like me to look into it?

dpr: Yes, please. I would rather miss the chance to take him out than hit an innocent person. Perhaps we can hold him and question him?

r&w: The safest way is to get in, do it, and get out. Are there any ways to verify he is the intended target? The info I have on him right now is that he works/lives with three other people and they all sell together. They are planning on leaving the province soon.

dpr: I am confident enough that it is him to move forward. Can we round up all four of them and get them to out each other?

r&w: Getting all four would be possible, but there are no bulk discounts for jobs like this. If that works for you, let me know. If it doesn’t, please also let me know so I can call my guys off.

dpr: OK, let’s just hit Andrew and leave it at that. Try to recover the funds, but if not, then not.

r&w: Do you not need the people he is working with dealt with also? I was pretty certain you would want them all taken care of, so I had an associate send me a couple out-of-town hitters to accompany our hitters. It’s not a problem, I can just send them back, but I obviously would like for them to not go back empty-handed.

dpr: Hmm . . . OK, I’ll defer to your judgment and hope we can recover some assets from them.

 

r&w: That problem was dealt with. I’ll try to catch you online to give you details. Just wanted to let you know right away so you have one less thing to worry about.

dpr: Thanks, see you on chat.

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