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Source: in part; Wired
Who owns the single largest Bitcoin wallet on the internet? The U.S. government.
In September, the FBI shut down the Silk Road online drug marketplace, and it started seizing bitcoins belonging to the Dread Pirate Roberts — the operator of the illicit online marketplace, who they say is an American man named Ross Ulbricht.
The FBI now controls more than 144,000 bitcoins that reside at a bitcoin address that consolidates much of the seized Silk Road bitcoins. Those 144,000 bitcoins are worth close to $100 million at Tuesday’s exchange rates. Another address, containing Silk Road funds seized earlier by the FBI, contains nearly 30,000 bitcoins ($20 million).
I’ve had email after email asking for my opinion on Bitcoin and if readers should invest in the digital currency. In it’s early days, I mined for some Bitcoin myself. As time went on, I read more and more about the likelihood that Bitcoin was merely a law enforcement or intelligence honeypot and I continue to believe that.
There is also speculation that various intel agencies use the currency in order to launder their own money in order to fund clandestine operations. That’s just my opinion, so take it for what you will, but when I invest my hard-earned Federal Reserve notes, I make sure that they buy something tangible.
I’ve spoken at length regarding tangible goods and I stand by that idea. Having something that you can put your hands on or barter with when it all comes crashing down is invaluable compared to all of the digital currency in the world that can vanish with a keystroke or hiccup in the system. I heavily advocate the use of alternative currencies, but I’m not sold on Bitcoin. Currencies such as Ithaca Hours, or even the Liberty Dollar, are more localized, robust, and just as independent as Bitcoin.
All things considered, I’ve stayed well away from Bitcoin and continue to invest in gold, silver, and other tangible goods for my retreat property, such as a high-quality, manual water pump, additional shipping containers, and alternative energy methods.
UPDATE: The day after I published this article, China banned Bitcoin, causing the digital currency to plummet in value, from it’s ~$1,200/coin value down to ~$570/coin within a day’s time. The currency began to slowly regain some of its strength, but this is a prime example of how sudden events can wipe out a lifetime of wealth within minutes. Gold and silver have many uses beyond mere jewelry and collection; they are used extensively in a vast array of technological devices, the medical industry, and much more, creating a strong, constant demand of them, thus, ensuring their value.
Imagine if the FBI, or even Bitcoin’s original creator, who owns more Bitcoins than anyone in the world, dumped a massive amount of the currency onto the open market. We see this occur on Wall Street occasionally, causing stocks to plummet to their death and openly invites market manipulation. Can this happen with precious metals? Certainly, and it does every day of the week, but at least metals have an intrinsic value and have been considered valuable commodities since the dawn of mankind.
That doesn’t make the FBI the world’s largest bitcoin holder. This honor is thought to belong to bitcoin’s shadowy inventor Satoshi Nakamoto, who is estimated to have mined 1 million bitcoins in the currency’s early days. His stash is spread across many wallets. But it does put the federal agency ahead of the Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who in July said that they’d cornered about 1 percent of all bitcoins (there are 12 million bitcoins in circulation).
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