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Silk Road & Bitcoin : Five things you should know

Bitcoin promises a world in which you can buy just about anything in complete secrecy. There are no fees. And no banks.

No worries?

Well…not exactly.

Bitcoin is a digital currency transacted through the Internet by smart phone or computer. It’s a fast way to make purchases directly from person to person without banking or credit card charges.

Done in complete secrecy, this underground world has also lead to illegal drug markets such as Silk Road which have been linked to the deaths of several people.

Here are five things you should know about Bitcoin and Silk Road.

1. Is Bitcoin legal?

Yes. But depending on what you use it for.

The main concerns about Bitcoin stem from Government agencies being worried that it is used to money launder and drug deal. Because of Bitcoins anonymity, it is very hard to track where money goes and therefore criminals are attracted to this freedom.

2. What is Silk Road?

Silk Road was an anonymous website that provided users with an extensive marketplace of online drugs. Although recently shutdown by the FBI, several websites have since taken its place but none with the reputation of Silk Road. The types of merchandise Silk Road offered were shockingly extensive. Illegal drugs, prescription medication, synthetic drugs and even guns are just a few examples.

3. How did Silk Road work?

If a customer were to order and pay by Bitcoin, the merchandise would be sent via postal service in a non-descript package. Sellers would usually recommend customers use a P.O Box or a strangers address if the package were to get intercepted.

4. What about customs?

Ordering from Silk Road came at a risk. Luck would determine if your package was intercepted by Postal Services but judging from user reviews online, the chances of your package arriving was fairly high.

Where most buyers received their products, some were left in the dark.

5. Links with death.

A young man from Sydney’s northern beaches was recently found dead with cocaine residue spread over his desk. An investigation was conducted and it was revealed he had purchased the drugs from Silk Road.

The man obtained bitcoins from a Brisbane-based company called Cryptospend and was told to make deposits at NAB, Westpac or St George Banks. His orders were placed online and the drugs arrived in an inoccuous Express Post envelope.

Toxicology results showed a non-lethal level of Cocaine but his death was attributed to it being cut down with the potential lethal agent Levamisole.

No one was ever charged.

Hopefully this list has given you some insight into Bitcoin, Silk Road and the dangers they potentially bring.