Free Ross, a fundraising campaign to help the defense of imprisoned Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, was the target of hackers but since last week, it has regained control of its various accounts.
The Free Ross campaign is run by the family of Ulbricht, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 for operating the dark web bazaar Silk Road. The money raised was to fund his appeal of the sentence. However, the campaign sent a message out to all donors and supporters to cease making donations for the time being as hackers had set their sights on its accounts and the money within them.
“Friends, we are sad to inform you that we have been a target of a terrible hack. Please do not make any donations to Free Ross at this time,” said the family in a Facebook post recently. Reportedly, the hacker(s) gained access to its email, PayPal, Twitter, and bitcoin wallet accounts, and sent donation solicitations to the group’s contacts.
A supporter of the campaign, Roger Ver, took to Reddit shortly after to explain how someone had contacted him claiming to be Ulbricht’s mother, Lyn Ulbricht, and asking for a loan. “I knew right away that it wasn’t her due to the horrible English. Whoever the hackers are, they aren’t native English speakers,” he said.
Ver, who is also a prominent bitcoin startup investor, followed up on Twitter to warn users about the hack and denounce the hackers. “Hackers that prey upon those who are already dealing with so much heartache deserve all of our contempt,” he wrote.
According to Ver, there are further concerns that the hackers may have gained access to the cell phone accounts of someone from the campaign in order to cross any SMS two-factor authentication hurdles on the other accounts.
Free Ross has since said that even though hackers appeared to breach its PayPal accounts and bitcoin, no funds have been stolen but donors should be wary.
“Our PayPal account is secure and safe to donate through,” the group said in one of its latest updates after the breach. “Our bitcoin is safe, but we’re in the process of regaining access to the frozen account, so please wait to give bitcoin donations. We’ll announce when this is done.”
Ulbricht was sentenced to life without parole in the summer of 2015 for founding and operating the Silk Road, which facilitated online drugs and arms sales via the dark web. His lawyers are currently building an appeal.