On Monday, supporters of a San Francisco man accused of operating the website Silk Road launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for his legal defense. The campaign offers anonymizing hardware and 3-D printers as incentives to donate.
Ross William Ulbricht, 29, was arrested at Glen Park Library late last year. He is suspected of operating Silk Road, a website that facilitated the sale of drugs, weapons, and illicit services, under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts. Ulbricht faces charges of money laundering, drug trafficking, hacking, and other counts and has pleaded not guilty.
The crowdfunding campaign, hosted on Indiegogo, aims to raise $20,000 for Ulbricht's legal defense. As of Wednesday morning, the campaign had already raised nearly $4,000.
The campaign is one of several similar fundraisers; a Crowdtilt campaign that expired on June 18 raised $13,781 for Ulbricht and the website freeross.org states $89,972 has been raised. However, the Indiegogo campaign offers rewards to donors, from T-shirts and keychains for small donations to anonymizing hardware and 3-D printers for higher dollar amounts.
According to the Indiegogo campaign website, the campaign is run by “a coalition of individuals, organizations and businesses that believe the outcome of Ross Ulbricht's case is tremendously important for the future of Internet freedom, user privacy and cryptocurrency regulation.” The site also states that Ulbricht “has been unfairly portrayed as a man who planned murder” and that these accusations have tarnished Ulbricht's reputation and “impacted his ability to marshal the support he needs from the Internet.”
Funding has indeed been a problem for Ulbricht. In January, federal prosecutors seized $130 million of bitcoins from Ulbricht's computer. Forbes reports that he filed a claim to get the bitcoins returned.