Bitcoin enthusiasts with deep pockets might find their pulses racing as they wait to see if they are one of the successful bidders for 660 Bitcoin that US Marshals will be auctioning off on Sunday November 4th. Interested parties can register with the USMS from Monday 22nd October and must have a mere $200,000 ready to deposit in order to take part. This is the third such auction this year, with 3,600 auctioned in February and another 2,170 sold in March. Like the other auctions, the source of this treasure trove comes from “various federal criminal, civil and administrative cases”, and there are some interesting ones among them.
Bags to Riches
40 Bitcoin came via the escapades of Theresa Tetley, a former stockbroker who was jailed following a year-long DEA investigation. Thought to be behind a huge drug ring on former dark web site AlphaBay, Tetley advertised her Bitcoin for sale on localbitcoins.com and throughout the course of the investigation bought and sold millions of dollars’ worth of the cryptocurrency through undercover DEA agents. Tetley was finally arrested when she brought $300,000 cash in two Trader Joe’s grocery bags to conduct a purchase from an undercover agent. As well as the $300,000 in the grocery bags and 40 Bitcoin, Tetley also had to forfeit 25 gold bars, pay a $20,000 fine, and serve a 366-day prison sentence. The status of the Trader Joe’s bags is unknown.
Another individual, Louis Ong, was arrested for selling large amounts of Bitcoin to undercover Homeland Security agents, but was given a reprieve and told to register with an anti-money laundering agency. This he did, before proceeding to make further hidden transactions with undercover agents anyway. Ong was jailed for 20 days and forced to forfeit more than $1.1 million in cash and cryptocurrency. A percentage of the remaining Bitcoin was seized from convicted dark web traders, including Sky Justin Gornik, whose property was found to contain enough carfentinal to kill 86,000 people when it was searched. A further 80 Bitcoin came from Thomas Mario Costanzo who was imprisoned for 41 months and forced to forfeit all his cryptocurrency holdings after a two-year investigation by the DEA who posed as drug dealers and conducted many Bitcoin trades with him.
Bitcoin’s Difficult Past
The auctioning of such a vast amount of Bitcoin from criminal activities this year may seem on the surface to strengthen the case of those who claim that Bitcoin is only used for nefarious means. Many of the cases from which these funds originated however stretch back years, and with the DEA reporting in August that criminal enterprise regarding Bitcoin has dropped by 80%, we are simply seeing pending cases coming through the system to completion with the funds ready for newer, more responsible owners. So if you fancy topping up your ledger with some ill-gotten Bitcoin, get your checkbook ready. You’re gonna need it.