Feds recover Bitcoin worth $3.3 billion from a popcorn tin

The crypto market has been battered this year, with more than $2 trillion wiped off its value since its peak in Nov. 2021. Cryptocurrencies have been under pressure after the collapse of major exchange FTX.

Feds recover Bitcoin worth $3.3 billion from a popcorn tin

A huge stash of cryptocurrency has been discovered in a popcorn tin following a raid by the US Department of Justice.

Over 50,676 bitcoins, worth around $3.36 billion at the time of discovery, were hidden on various devices found within the home of a hacker who had stolen them from the dark web marketplace Silk Road.

James Zhong, 32, pled guilty last week to committing wire fraud in September 2012, having exploited a loophole in the website’s payment structure.

Law enforcement agents found the stolen crypto nearly a decade later on hard drives and USB sticks in Mr Zhong’s home.

According to a press release from the DOJ, the cryptocurrency was located “in an underground floor safe; and on a single-board computer that was submerged under blankets in a popcorn tin stored in a bathroom closet”.

The DOJ said it was the second largest financial seizure in history.

“For almost ten years, the whereabouts of this massive chunk of missing bitcoin had ballooned into an over $3.3 billion mystery,” said US Attorney Damian Williams.

“Thanks to state-of-the-art cryptocurrency tracing and good old-fashioned police work, law enforcement located and recovered this impressive cache of criminal proceeds.

“This case shows that we won’t stop following the money, no matter how expertly hidden, even to a circuit board in the bottom of a popcorn tin.”

Mr Zhong has since voluntarily surrendered additional bitcoin obtained through Silk Road in 2012.

Silk Road is no longer in operation, having been shut down in 2013 after rising in popularity to become the world’s largest online marketplace for illegal drugs and illicit goods.

Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison.

Mr Zhong faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on 22 February, 2023.