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Report: U.S. Marshals’ email folly ruins bitcoin auction

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The U.S. Marshals Service botched what was supposed to be an anonymous $18-million bitcoin auction by replying all to an email with bidders’ names and addresses, according to a TechCrunch report. The technical folly apparently happened when one of the bidders asked a question and the Marshals’ office copied 40 other bidders on the reply.

The auction is for some 30,000 bitcoins, valued at about $18 million, seized by the government from Silk Road, a black market for drugs shut down last year by the FBI.

Registration for the auction runs June 16-23, according to an agency announcement. The U.S. Marshals Service could not be reached for comment.

Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, said in February that more institutions need to register with her office if it is to successfully block cyber funding for criminals and terrorists.

Posted by Sean Lyngaas on Jun 19, 2014 at 9:43 AM


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Reader comments

Fri, Jun 20, 2014 Peter Martin Denver, CO

This blog post is enticing but completely lacking in background, context, and explanatory detail. Why was the Marshals Service trying to conduct the auction anonymously? Who had sent the message that the Service replied to? What was in the reply that shouldn't have been seen by all recipients? How did it "ruin" the auction?

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