Many readers will probably remember the Silk Road case that I've covered over the past year. Silk Road was an online marketplace for all sorts of illegal drugs, but it was shut down last year when the FBI arrested the alleged mastermind behind the whole thing: Ross Ulbricht. He's now facing criminal charges for his role in the website and for attempting to hire a hit man to kill a former employee. It's a big win against cybercrime, but not everyone is happy. Ulbricht's supporters have posted some very real threats against the federal judge handling the case.
Silk Road was a hidden website that's only accessible through the encrypted Tor network. Tor is a part of the Internet where users can visit anonymously. There are many websites out there like this that aren't accessible through regular Internet browsers. They're not all used for illegally activity, but Tor is attractive to criminals because it can be difficult - but not impossible - for police to crack.
Now, Ulbricht's supporters are making threats against Judge Katherine Forrest and her family on another hidden site, The Hidden Wiki. It's like a hidden Wikipedia full of all sorts of information.
"Katherine Bolan Forrest is the judge who is unfairly ruining Ross Ulbricht's life and chance for a fair trial," wrote an editor on the hidden wiki who goes by the moniker ServingJustice.
Ulbricht's supporters began to target Forrest because she made some decisions in favor of the prosecutors in the case that they felt were unfair. Disagreeing with Judge Forrest is OK, but what these people did to vent their frustration is dangerous and downright criminal.
Judge Forrest is now the victim of at least one death threat. The Hidden Wiki user named ServingJustice wrote a post venting his frustrations and then ended with "I hope some drug cartel that lost a lot of money with the seizure of silk road will murder this lady and her entire family."
Those are truly terrible words and the threat isn't empty. That's because ServingJustice also loaded the Hidden Wiki page with "dox," or personal information about the judge found online. He posted her Social Security number, phone number and a home address.
"I can also get information on all of this lady's relatives and maybe some of her close friends, so expect more releases over doxbin and this wiki," ServingJustice continued. "For right now just steal her identity and send her gifts in the mail ;) Expect phone numbers and relatives SSNs and complete doxes in a future release ..."
The U.S. Marshals are aware of the threats, but they aren't commenting on the case at this time. My thoughts go out to Judge Forrest, and I hope the Marshals can track down the people behind these threats soon to keep her safe. Click here to find out what to do if you're ever the victim of online harassment, threats or other cybercrimes.