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Opinion
Matt Levine

Bitcoin Secret Agents Were Pirates Themselves

When your name is Carl Mark Force IV, you can afford to go by "French Maid" on the Internet.

Carl Mark Force IV was an undercover operative for the Drug Enforcement Agency and also he is named Carl Mark Force IV. With a name like Carl Mark Force IV he could afford to adopt less ... forceful online pseudonyms. For instance, while he was investigating "Dread Pirate Roberts," the pseudonymous operator of the Silk Road drugs/stolen-credit-cards/murder-for-bitcoins site, he used the bland undercover online alias "Nob." But now prosecutors claim that he was also, on the side, extorting money out of Dread Pirate Roberts under a different alias: 

There is no playbook for blackmailing a secretive criminal mastermind using unencrypted online messages in which you pretend to be a French maid. No one, not even Carl Mark Force IV, does that every day. So it's understandable that he might have forgotten to sign his message with a fake name that was (1) gender-appropriate and (2) not his actual real first name. Could happen to anyone! The important thing is that he quickly corrected the mistake. No one could think that "Carla Sophia" was the same person as Carl Mark Force IV, and the initial "Carl" was obviously just a typo.