back to article Silk Road 2 + Dread Pirate Roberts 2 + 1 Liverpudlian = over 5 years in prison

For years, it was assumed he had escaped the Feds. But on Friday at Liverpool Crown Court, 24-year-old university dropout Thomas White pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, money laundering and possessing child abuse images and was sentenced to 5 years and 4 months in prison. White was in fact Dread Pirate Roberts 2, a pseudonym …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any relation to Walter White ?

    1. macjules Silver badge

      More like Walter Mitty.

  2. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    When's the extradition hearing scheduled for?

    Actually, with that photo, you'd expect a Harry Potter article.

    Now I'm stuck between someone weasling out of a life sentence, and selling his uncles overstock online and well its friday and time for a nice dark porter to go with the roast that's on the BBQ.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Lucky indeed. Either that or he's shopped a few more.

  4. DarkLordofSurrey

    I wonder if he'll be sat next Julian on the plane...

    1. Cyril

      No, they can't they would have to let him out because you can't keep people in cruel and inhumane conditions.

  5. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    setting up a hidden service? pretty easy...

    setting up a hidden service is _easy_. Anyone can use a web server to listen on an unfiltered port, use a dynamic DNS (or onion address), and have a web server with whatever 'hidden' content you want. You could even require using a VPN into a private address space to view it.

    The thing is, if you want people to see your 'hidden' site you have to tell people how to find it.

    And if other people can find it, at least SOME of those 'other people' will be LAW ENFORCEMENT.

    I guess that's a summary of what happened with Silk Road 2, as the article pointed out that the undercover cop was invited to the new network admin IRC channel.

    "Dumb Crooks" indeed.

    SANE people don't commit crimes because they fear punishment for them. At least, that's how it works with _ME_.

    (or another way to state it, one definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting a different outcome)

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: setting up a hidden service? pretty easy...

      I think most people don't commit crimes because they don't believe it is OK. Sure the correlation between "crime" and "morally wrong" can be tenuous, for example copyright laws, so there is a degree of flexibility there.

      However, what the real moral of his story is that it is practically impossible to be truly anonymous on-line. The probability of being caught, of course, depends on what resources the authorities are willing to apply to finding you. If it is something high-profile like what the Silk Road was doing then you see what can be done.

      Shame they don't try a bit harder against the huge number of the "minor" scams that cheat old folk and naive PC users out of savings, etc.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        ""crime" and "morally wrong" can be tenuous"

        Sure, there are people who thing is right to steal office supplies, or not paying transports tickets. And many other examples. While evidently they don't kill or rape, still they do damage others.

        1. NonSSL-Login

          Re: ""crime" and "morally wrong" can be tenuous"

          Is it morally wrong to kill those those who feel damaged over the post-it notes being out of stock at work because Sally from accounting helps herself to a pad for home while at the cupboard?

          1. Anne-Lise Pasch

            Re: ""crime" and "morally wrong" can be tenuous"

            Only if they steal my yoghurt from the fridge.

        2. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

          Re: ""crime" and "morally wrong" can be tenuous"

          @LDS They think that there is no harm, that the harm is not that significant, or that the other entity deserves the "harm" they are causing them.

        3. whitepines Silver badge

          Re: ""crime" and "morally wrong" can be tenuous"

          still they do damage others.

          And the problem with the written law not aligning with moral law is that it leads to both laws being weakened. Once weakened enough, the entire concept of "crime" may be fuzzy enough in the perpetrator's mind that what is being done may not even be considered wrong by the individual in question.

          Bear in mind that it is entirely possible to to damage to another individual by stepping outside the moral law while still remaining (barely) inside the written law. See Uber practices, 200+ year copyright / DRM, various financial scams (institutional, therefore somehow legal), the recent laws right here in Blighty on accidentally clicking "terrorism material", etc. for good examples of the mess having the two laws out of sync can cause. Once you have criminalized the entire population one way or another, therefore making the barrier to committing more serious crimes very, very low, the only thing preventing complete anarchy is the subset of the population that still holds to the moral law. And that subset will fade over time, though still stabilizing somewhere (see "honor among theives" etc.) -- quite possibly nearer the optimal human condition than the current "everyone is a criminal" or its counterpart, complete anarchy.

          Better to fix the bad laws making criminals of people trying to honestly do the right thing than to have either of the above disasters, no?

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: ""crime" and "morally wrong" can be tenuous"

            And the problem with the written law not aligning with moral law is that it leads to both laws being weakened.

            The real problem with "moral law" is that it can't exist. Morals are meaningless to all but the person to whom they belong; My morals are different to yours, yours are different to the next guy, and so it goes. Whose morals should the law be based upon? "Mine", for any/every definition of "me", is usually where you end up.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: ""crime" and "morally wrong" can be tenuous"

              If morals are not absolute or close to that, then we couldn't possibly have "morally" charged DPR ... what if his actions are moral to him?

            2. whitepines Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: ""crime" and "morally wrong" can be tenuous"

              The real problem with "moral law" is that it can't exist.

              Nah. In fact I'll take a stab at a definition: the common, basic set of rules that the majority of a group of people deem to be intrinsically "fair" when interacting with other members of the group.

              The fact that some kind of law appears to be emergent behaviour whenever people are put together in long term association with each other (see nearly ever society on this planet, even hunter-gatherer tribes!) is compelling evidence for the existence of a moral law. To add to that, certain basic laws seem to spontaneously emerge in all of these societies -- specifically, restrictions of one sort or another on killing other people seem to be quite popular. The exact restrictions may vary widely of course, but they're still present.

              What we have today here in Blighty (and the West in general) is an overburdened book of written law that is so far out of touch with this emergent system of rules that it's impossible to stay on the "right" side of the written law. Most people run around merging some form of moral law, societal norms, and certain very visible parts of the written law, and think they're so "good' that they're willing to allow the government to inspect every aspect of their personal lives. I'd argue this isn't a good position for humanity, it leads to the rise of despots (this can be government officials, corporations, or some synergistic combination of the two), especially when combined with the willingness to hand over all the data needed to hang oneself should certain political things be said that the ruling party doesn't want said, and inevitable decline of the nation or outright popular revolt.

              Interestingly enough, the type of failure does appear to be rate dependent -- rapid accession of power yields revolt, slow accession leads to decline and failure on the world stage. The decline of the Empire culminating in Brexit seems to be a nice reminder that even the frog in pot version of tyranny doesn't end well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: setting up a hidden service? pretty easy...

      At least, that's how it works with _ME_.

      Does that mean that if you guarantee a clean escape from punishment ... you would be fine with commiting a crime?

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: setting up a hidden service? pretty easy...

      "SANE people don't commit crimes because they fear punishment for them."

      You raise an interesting point. From personal observation some habitual/career criminals seem to prefer it and yet it would be difficult to have them diagnosed as insane. Maybe it introduces an excitement to life. Maybe they have a feeling of sticking it to the man. Maybe they're utterly convinced they'll get away with it this time in spite of past experience. Maybe they're convinced that next time they'll really hit on the big one. OTOH for some it seems to be the only thing they can do, being unable to hold down a regular job.

      Maybe it's just an extension of the fact that we're all different; after all, even here some of us seem to prefer working in regular employment while some prefer freelance and others to run a business employing others.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: setting up a hidden service? pretty easy...

        From personal observation some habitual/career criminals seem to prefer it and yet it would be difficult to have them diagnosed as insane. Maybe it introduces an excitement to life. Maybe they have a feeling of sticking it to the man. Maybe they're utterly convinced they'll get away with it this time in spite of past experience.

        Once you have a criminal record, it may not matter so much how many entries it contains. And honest civilized man may fear prison - surrounded by criminals, unable to get a decent job after, etc etc. To a criminal, prison isn't hard - it's just an occupational hazard, surrounded by like-minded folk; there is no job on the outside....

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: setting up a hidden service? pretty easy...

      Registering servers using your real email address with your name in it or getting contraband from said site delivered to your home address really isn't making law enforcement work very hard. I've always maintained that the issue with the concept of silk road and the like is that the big problems come where internet meets the real world. Sure, you can buy all the contraband you want but you have to pay for it anonymously and likewise also receive it. These are the real problem points.

    5. DJO Silver badge

      Re: setting up a hidden service? pretty easy...

      SANE people don't commit crimes because they fear punishment for them

      100% incorrect and the reason the right wing think stiffer penalties deter, they don't.

      Fear of detection is the deterrent. Look at a simple case, speeding on the roads - changing the penalties has zero effect, placing speed cameras does slow traffic down - it's not the fear of a penalty, it's fear of being caught.

      For serious crimes the potential penalty is not relevant because the perpetrator knows they will never be caught* because they are so clever (often in a Dunning-Kruger fashion).

      * They may be wrong there but that does not matter to such arrogance.

      The way to reduce crime is to invest in the police and other detection techniques, cutting police budgets like the UK Tories are doing will only increase the crime rate.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: setting up a hidden service? pretty easy...

        Fear of detection is the deterrent. Look at a simple case, speeding on the roads - changing the penalties has zero effect, placing speed cameras does slow traffic down - it's not the fear of a penalty, it's fear of being caught.

        Unfortunately, that's completely incorrect.

        Speed cameras don't slow most people down - try going anywhere on a motorway at 70 and report back. The punishment is a small fine and a metaphorical slap on the wrist. What's to fear?

        Singapore, on the other hand, does not have chewing gum on the side walks, because the first offence penalty for selling it is $100,000 fine or two years in prison, and they go up sharply from there. It's not the fear of detection that stopped the black-market emerging, but the scale of penalty imposed.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Re: setting up a hidden service? pretty easy...

          Speed cameras don't slow most people down

          Of course they do, but only around the cameras, watch drivers where there is an average speed limit, there almost all drivers keep to a few mph of the posted limit. Also drivers quickly learn where the cameras are and where the limits are enforced and where they are not (detection again).

          The punishment is a small fine and a metaphorical slap on the wrist. What's to fear?

          The "metaphorical" penalty is a possible loss of a driving licence for a year - in the UK at least a speeding fine resulting the loss of 3 "points" from your licence, lose 12 and it's bye-bye licence.

          Hardly trivial when many peoples ability to earn their livelihood depends on being able to drive.

          As for Singapore, lots and lots of police and high levels of surveillance meaning the chance of detection is very high.

    6. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: setting up a hidden service? pretty easy...

      SANE people don't commit crimes because they fear punishment for them

      Not sure I completely agree.....

      It's the second and third order effects that I fear, not the state sanctioned punishment. Allow me to explain. If you have a clean criminal record, you can go out and beat the snot out of some random in the street, then plead guilty, and with your two thirds off (previous good character and early guilty plea) you'll get a suspended sentence.

      That is really a problem to nobody, however, that's where the second order fun kicks in.... My employer views being convicted of a crime (any crime) as gross professional misconduct, so I'd get sacked. I'd also be ineligible for the USA visa waiver scheme (an oft used proxy for the question "have you ever been convicted of a crime regardless of the ROA?", thus restricting future employment opportunities too.

      And that, is where the third order effects begin - losing the house, probably divorce, resulting in loss of access to my kids.

      So, no, I don't commit crimes because I fear the punishment as such. Crime, at least in the UK, long ago ceased to be coupled to an appropriate punishment, which is why I suspect wider society throws on its own penalties after the fact. Whether or not you think it should do so, it seems to me that it is exactly what happens.

      1. Phage

        Re: setting up a hidden service? pretty easy...

        Perfect answer - I have always wondered why more people don't debate on these points.

    7. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: setting up a hidden service? pretty easy...

      "(or onion address)

      The thing is, if you want people to see your 'hidden' site you have to tell people how to find it."

      No, no you don't. An onion address lets them access the site without ever knowing where it is. Security services managed to find some sites by other means such as java script leaks but they as far as we know never compromised the Onion protocol.

  6. whitepines Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    The original Dread Pirate Roberts, Ross Ulbricht, has already been in jail for six years and there are no signs that he will emerge anytime soon, despite his repeat appeals and pleas and, just last month, a hand-drawn sketch of what he imagines that day will look like

    ...and that sketch proves just how delusional he really is. He's not going to come out of prison, ever, not after what he did. The only thing he'll see outside of his cell is the underside of the vegetation growing on his coffin. Or the underside of a car park. But then he won't really see it, will he?

    What I don't get is how people in prison get to have twitter accounts and lead any kind of online public life. I though the anti-mob laws stopped that to prevent bosses from basically carrying on leading operations / ordering hits etc. from behind bars?

    1. DJO Silver badge

      What I don't get is how people in prison get to have...

      In a civilised country prison is designed to rehabilitate, train and provide routes out of criminality and back to being a productive member of society.

      In barbaric countries it's all about punishment, or even worse to make a profit from misery and ensure there are always more prisoners.

    2. simonb_london

      Prohibition is in its death throws. It is obviously broken and much more harmful than most of the drugs being prohibited by it.

      When it finally gets scrapped then leaving a prohibition-era outlaw to languish in jail for the rest of his life will also be redundant.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "That secrecy led to the extraordinary situation where White, under his own name as well as the pseudonym 'The Cthulhu' and using the Twitter account @CthulhuSec, has become a well-known privacy activist in the intervening years."

    Let's not forget the part where he became a "Lead Open Source Cloud Engineer" at UKFast - a company with many brand name and government clients...

  8. steviebuk Silver badge

    On other articles...

    ...the police claim its not possible to be anonymous and use sites like Tor & VPNs to hide. But those articles then contradict themselves by stating he was traces by following packages he purchases.

  9. Snowy Silver badge
    Holmes

    One important detail you got wrong.

    [quote]For years, it was assumed he had escaped the Feds.[/quote]

    He got sentenced in the UK and last time I checked the feds is short for the FBI which I believe is an American law enforcement agency. While he has not gotten away with it he is not in the hands of the feds. If he was over in the USA he would have got a lot longer sentence.

    1. fandom Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: One important detail you got wrong.

      "It was assumed..."

      'Assumed', the people doing the assuming didn't know he was in the UK, so they did assumed he had escaped the Feds.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slight concern

    One thing that always worries me about the descriptions of how they caught these f*ckwits is that it gives other idiots hints on what to avoid in order not to be caught that quickly. Just because they caught these people doesn't mean the market for it will disappear, so some criminal will eventually try this again.

    1. fandom Silver badge

      Re: Slight concern

      On the other hand it shows the lengths they are willing to go to get you if you create Silk Road 3

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Slight concern

      One thing that always worries me about the descriptions of how they caught these f*ckwits is that it gives other idiots hints on what to avoid in order not to be caught that quickly.

      You'd think so, but the vast majority of criminals are thick as fuck. Fingerprints have been common knowledge for over 100 years, and yet so many simply don't wear gloves when committing crime. How many rapists deliberately leave behind their DNA?

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Slight concern

      A logical concern, but it doesn't seem to work. We describe in great technical detail how malware was detected. One would assume that the malware writers would find new ways that definitely aren't the ones that failed, and that users would make sure those methods couldn't work. And yet, the most successful malware in the sense of getting itself on a bunch of victims' machines is not all that complex. It uses vulnerabilities that have been known for a while, and it isn't always very well-written at all. There are a lot of people bent on doing evil without the intelligence needed to avoid the mistakes of the past.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Twits operating inside the Matrix

    The Man knows all.

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Just as bad as religion...

    These twats are just as bad as religion in that they enable perverts that just can't seem to keep their grubby little hands off of the children...

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