In a statement to the press, the U.S. government announced that an auction will be held for more than 2,700 bitcoins, worth approximately $1.6 million, that had been seized during several government cases.
Among the bitcoins in the auction are ones that were formerly owned by Ross Ulbricht, the creator of the Silk Road who was sentenced to life in prison in 2015. The U.S. Marshals Service claim the 2,719 bitcoins came from a total of 9 cases including ones seized by the US Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco, and the Internal Revenue Service. Four auctions containing or consisting of Ulbricht’s seized bitcoins have already been successfully completed.
Ulbricht wasn’t the only newsworthy case with coins involved in the auction; some of them came from Carl Force, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent who is serving 78 months in prison for extortion. Force was critically involved in the Silk Road investigation. He offered Ulbricht information on the fed’s investigation in exchange for 400 bitcoins. Instead of reporting the money that Ulbricht sent him, Force deposited it into his personal accounts. He was able to get another 525 in a similar transaction. Both times he told the DEA that Ulbricht wouldn’t accept the deal. “DPR made no such payment.”
The government started building a case against Force when they became aware that he made $757,000 between 2013 – 2014. His annual DEA salary was $150,000 and his wife didn’t work. During the Silk Road investigation, Force similarly stole $235,000 from a CoinMKT customer. “[He] wrote several very large checks for tens of thousands of dollars,” according to investigators – making it easy to retrieve some of the stolen bitcoins.
Registration for the online auction is due by August 18th, and the bidding will start on the 22nd of the same month between 13:00 and 19:00 UTC. A $100,000 deposit will be required to bid on the bitcoins. No reserve is set. The auction will consist of one block. A “bidder registration form” must be completed, signed, and emailed to a Department of Justice account.
Various terms are included in the statement:
“The USMS will not transfer bitcoins to an obscene public address, a public address apparently in a country restricted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a public address apparently associated with terrorism, other criminal activities, or otherwise hostile to the United States.”
The remainder of terms as well as a list of involved cases can be found on the U.S. Marshals website.