Creating a stir over the weekend was a New York Times Bits blog article about a new study that suggested there was a link between Ross Willian Ulbricht A.K.A Dread Pirate Roberts (Silk Road’s founder or at least the last guy in the captain’s chair before he was arrested) and bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. The report by Dorit Ron, a Weizmann Institute computer scientist, and cryptographer, Adi Shamir, traced public records of bitcoin transfers to Silk Road bitcoin wallets that were seized by the FBI.
According to the analysis, there was a suspicious 1000 bitcoin sized large sized to Silk Road that occurred at March 20th of 2013. At the time, the payment was valued at $60,000, and according to Ron and Shamir “Such a single large transfer does not represent the typical behavior of a buyer who opens an account on Silk Road in order to purchase some narcotics.” The report explained that the wallet that sent the 1000 bitcoins had been part of a chain of large transfers that could be traced back to a very very early wallet that at one time held 77,624 bitcoins through mining, and was created in January 2009. Due to the size of the transfer, an early created wallet, as well as originating from a miner, Ron and Shamir concluded that although they didn’t know who the sender was, it was potentially from Satoshi Nakamoto.
Beyond claiming that there is no way to verify whether the wallet was in fact Nakamoto’s the research also appears to have other glaring weaknesses.
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1)The original wallet that held the 77,624 bitcoins actually transferred the coins to another wallet in 2011. Coins were then transferred to a third wallet in 2013, with the wallet in question that actually sent Silk Road the 1000 bitcoins was a fourth wallet. As such, the report assumes that each subsequent wallet was associated with the other.
2)Probably the biggest hole in analysis is that the 77,624 transaction was discussed last month on the Bitcointalk forum. There, early adopter, Dustin Trammel confirmed that he was user I}ruid who had been sourced as the ID behind the 77,624 transaction. The transfers were part of a cashing out process as prices were rising in 2011.
Source: Bitcointalk & Reddit
3) While reputed to be the largest holder of bitcoins, Satoshi Nakomoto any transactions from those early wallets he held have been very low key, in the 50 bitcoin and below range. Therefore, the report assumes that although Nakamoto has been purposely flying under the radar, when it came to buying drugs he decided to make a noticeable sized transfer, just as prices were heating up following the Cyprus bailout, that could draw attention.
(Image source flickr)