Sheep Marketplace was one of the online markets that gained popularity after the fall of Silk Road 1.0. The site’s alleged owner, Tomáš Jiřikovský, was arrested in March 2015 and little information has been released since his arrest, until now.
Jan Danek, head of the South Moravian police’s economic division, spoke with a local news outlet on the investigation and arrest of the Sheep Marketplace owner. Not only was Jiřikovský arrested for enabling a drug trade, but Moravian police are charging him also with the theft of millions of bitcoins, stolen from the site’s users.
Although two Florida men were arrested for stealing 5,400 bitcoins from the Sheep Marketplace between 2013-2014, the number of bitcoins stolen by Jiřikovský is far greater. At the time, the amount stolen was reported to be worth around $40 million.
In the Florida case, law enforcement was able to trace the stolen bitcoins through services like Blockchain.info. Danek explains that following the Sheep Marketplace shut down, officers were able to trace suspicious transactions to bank accounts in a similar manner.
South Moravian police became aware of the Sheep Marketplace once the site disappeared, causing a major disturbance on the internet. Millions of dollars in bitcoins were stolen from users resulting in law enforcement being notified of a South Moravian man who was receiving suspicious transactions, while also fitting the profile of the site’s owner.
Danek claims this man “magically got rich.” The exit-scam is unanimously known as the “biggest darknet scam ever.”
Law enforcement started tracing money that was deposited into the bank account of Eva Bartošová, Jiřikovský’s wife. $38,000 had been deposited from abroad, connecting her to the case for the very least, with money laundering charges. From there, more money was traced to Jiřikovský’s realtor where police discovered he purchased a house under his grandfather’s name for around $300,000.
Further investigation proved that Jiřikovský was the owner of the Sheep Marketplace. He had purchased a new home, news cars, luxury furniture, as well as expensive computers. Danek says that during their 9-month investigation, Jiřikovský’s new purchases totaled more than $800,000. Everything has since been seized, including the house and cars.
All of the money was laundered from foreign accounts. The bitcoins were exchanged overseas before deposited into both his account and his wife’s account via Air Bank.
Jiřikovský is in police custody and faces up to 12 years in prison for the theft of bitcoins and enabling a drug trade. His wife is charged with aiding him in laundering the money, but she is currently not being detained by police.
A spokesperson from the South Moravian prosecutor’s office, Hynek Olma, says that Bartošová, if convicted, could face eight years in prison.