Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Bitcoin Crime Government

US Marshals Accidentally Reveal Potential Bidders For Gov't-Seized Bitcoin 101

Posted by timothy
from the now-how-much-would-you-pay? dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "When the U.S. government shut down the Silk Road marketplace, they seized its assets, including roughly $18 million in bitcoin, and despite the government's ambivalence about the cryptocurrency, they plan to auction the bitcoin off to the highest bidder, as they do with most criminal assets. Ironically, considering many bitcoin users' intense desire for privacy, the U.S. Marshall service accidentally revealed the complete list of potential bidders by sending a message to everyone on the list and putting their addresses in the CC field instead of the BCC field."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Marshals Accidentally Reveal Potential Bidders For Gov't-Seized Bitcoin

Comments Filter:
  • Lelelelel
    Much infosec fail.

  • This is what happens (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chas (5144) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @01:13AM (#47287157) Homepage Journal

    This is what happens when you have a single point of failure like a stupid, technically illiterate secretary added to the mix.

    • by TWX (665546) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @01:14AM (#47287159)
      Like, secretary as in the one that takes dictation, or secretary as in the one that is in charge of a large arm of government bureaucracy?
      • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @01:30AM (#47287197) Journal

        Hacker: Who else is in this department?
        Sir Humphrey: Well briefly, sir, I am the Permanent Under Secretary of State, known as the Permanent Secretary. Woolley here is your Principal Private Secretary. I too have a Principal Private Secretary and he is the Principal Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary. Directly responsible to me are ten Deputy Secretaries, 87 Under Secretaries and 219 Assistant Secretaries. Directly responsible to the Principal Private Secretaries are plain Private Secretaries, and the Prime Minister will be appointing two Parliamentary Under-Secretaries and you will be appointing your own Parliamentary Private Secretary.
        Hacker: Can they all type?
        Sir Humphrey: None of us can type. Mrs Mackay types: she's the secretary.

      • Like, secretary as in the one that takes dictation, or secretary as in the one that is in charge of a large arm of government bureaucracy?

        Yes.

      • by ultranova (717540)

        Like, secretary as in the one that takes dictation, or secretary as in the one that is in charge of a large arm of government bureaucracy?

        Or even the entire country [wikipedia.org].

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But... but.. a sectetary is exactly the right person to trust with a secret.
      "Secretary - late Middle English (originally in the sense ‘person entrusted with a secret’): from late Latin secretarius ‘confidential officer’, from Latin secretum ‘secret’, neuter of secretus"

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      That's a fairly massive assumption. Even competent people make mistakes.

    • This is what happens when you have a single point of failure

      There was not a single point of failure. If the bidders used email addresses that could be traced to their real identities, that was another point of failure.

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      That would be an administrative assistant you insensitive mad men clod!

    • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Saturday June 21, 2014 @01:54PM (#47289219) Homepage

      This is what happens when you have a single point of failure like a stupid, technically illiterate secretary added to the mix.

      Misogyny much? Secretaries are usually well versed in things like email, since it's a major part of their job. Managers are the ones who think they know everything, and make these kinds of mistakes.

  • ezmlm works fine for me.

  • So who would stan to gain from such an event occuring?
    • In theory you know of all interested people and know they now know of each other.
      Bait (with coin sale), catch looking for each others coins, release as informants.
      • My thoughts were more pedestrian, nothing sinister, my thinking is that some one wants a few more dollars by hyping the sale; maybe? But then again never substitue malice when simple stupidity makes sense.
        • by AHuxley (892839)
          Its a bit like the Nixon White House tapes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] and a ~18 min gap was a "a terrible mistake" by a staff member using the stop button vs record button. Mistakes happen but at that level of US gov - you would see a lot more over a wider more random set of everyday tasks. The very public error seemed to be worth it for some aspect of bitcoin?
  • ohhhhhhh crap (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @02:05AM (#47287255)
    I once compared the bitcoin forums to Tartuga from Pirates of the Caribbean. Everyone agreed. Everyone scams everyone, nobody follows the laws, and you have to be smart to not get burned. Those are the people bidding on these. The last thing you want to do is expose their contact info to each other. They just started World War III in the bitcoin world. Close up your storm shutters because there's a shitstorm blowing in.
  • Spoils of war. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tragedy (27079) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @02:25AM (#47287301)

    Am I the only one who gets disturbed every time it's blithely mentioned that this or that police agency gets to take spoils for themselves? It seems a little... inherently corrupt.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Legal.Troll (2002574)
      You're not the first. http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex... [cornell.edu]
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well yeah kind of since is this the only really legal sale of bitcoins in USA? there's some reason for why the exchanges avoid it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No you are not the only one.
      Of course is is corrupting.
      The politicians that can change it cannot appear soft on crime.

      • by Wootery (1087023)

        How would it look soft on crime to suggest that the 'winnings' should go to some higher governmental branch rather than straight to the police agency?

        The only ones this might annoy would be the police themselves. It wouldn't take a PR genius to point out that the current system encourages the police to screw up their priorities.

    • Re:Spoils of war. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Virtucon (127420) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @10:20AM (#47288333)

      Due Process is going out the window. That also includes defending yourself with the lawyer you choose. Recently the SCOTUS ruled amazingly enough that it was okay for the government to even seize assets that were in your lawyers hands to pay for legal fees. [washingtonpost.com] So now the system is rigged against you to the point where the Judge and the prosecution pick your lawyer for you. Good by freedom, hello club Fed.

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Nope, you're not alone.

      http://fear.org/ [fear.org]

  • I don't get it, why are they auctioning money? Why don't they just exchange them for USD? They will necessarily get less than the market value for them, because nobody would buy money for more than it's worth...

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      Because Bitcoins is not money.

      • by Guspaz (556486)

        Fine, but that doesn't change my basic point. Why bother with an auction that will necessarily get less than an open market?

        • by Adambomb (118938) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @04:43AM (#47287513) Journal

          Fine, but that doesn't change my basic point. Why bother with an auction that will necessarily get less than an open market?

          The same reason you wholesale anything; You get a transaction that moves a large volume quickly. Basically all consumer goods you buy in any kind of branded store works this way, Wholesalers, whether manufacturers or a middleman, sell large volume to companies who then take the burden of distribution but reap the benefits of charging retail price and profiting on the difference between that and the wholesale cost plus infrastructure/logistics costs. The wholesaler gets the benefit of moving a large volume at an agreed upon price and not having to worry about inventory control, distribution, or logistics of getting it to the consumer.

          This is not strange, or even strange at all. Side benefit in this case, they get the auction entry fee from everyone bidding regardless of whether they win and also a look into who is interested in amassing a large quantity of bitcoins.

          Honestly this shouldn't require explanation,

        • by SeaFox (739806)

          Maybe because by actually converting the currency to money, they're sending the message that they accept it as real money and will use it. It gives a aire of legitimacy to it they don't want to impart. But selling it is simply offering it and taking what they can get. It doesn't say that they think it's worth anything, just that the bidders do. Kind of like if I took a dirty sock and auctioned it. I can say I believe it to be trash all I want then. If someone pays me $10 for it, it doesn't mean it's really

        • by Trepidity (597)

          With a few exceptions like stocks (which are sold on the open market, since it's very established and liquid), law enforcement sells things by auction. In some jurisdictions they're required by law to sell things at public auction with a certain notice period, because it's considered more transparent. So if they seized 100 bikes this month, they sell them at the monthly police auction, rather than trying to find a used-bike shop to sell them to.

    • by Animats (122034)

      Why don't they just exchange them for USD?

      Unless there's some well organized exchange, as for stocks and bonds, the U.S. Marshals Service sells everything by auction. No Bitcoin exchange is solid enough for a transaction of this size.

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      Law..

      There have been problems in the past with government agencies pricing things low and employees snatching it up before the public was able to. So laws require most thing being sold to other than another government agency to be sold at public auction.

    • by camg188 (932324)
      Entropy. That's the way they've always done it.
      You're asking a government bureaucrat to learn how to exchange bitcoin, give them $18 million worth and expect them not to get ripped off? Auction it.
  • by swb (14022) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @07:29AM (#47287769)

    So they can go out of their way to try and stifle information on stingrays, but they can't make the BCC field work?

  • Because my relatives always use CC instead of BCC, especially when they're forwarding some lame-ass joke to me. There are dozens of recipients!
  • All us /.-ers, being highly experienced software jocks, know perfectly well that anything sent in an email might as well be posted up in Times Square. It might have made it a bit more difficult for the bidders to find out the names of the other bidders, but even if each one were sent a separate, one-address, email, the info is on servers all over the place (insert lame joke about asking the NSA for the other bidders' emails).

  • And these are the people we want to trust making decisions about our healthcare?

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      Actually no, these are the idiots who come and seize your property with little suspicion or on the orders of the jackbooted thugs who want your stuff and sell it off without due process. They're the ones what to make your decisions on everything, to make sure that big brother is watching you and taking all of your hard fought earnings all in the name of social justice where your individuality doesn't matter but the collective good does. Of course by collective good that means you don't keep anything you e

  • At least it won't be a silent auction then because you'll know your competition.

  • Since I have never been involved in government auctions and I am not seeing anyone comment, what is the standard here? Is there an expectation of privacy? I have never heard of these auctions billed as being anonymous before. So are we basically talking about little more then a minor social mistake?
  • Here is a textbook case of applying the Capability Immaturity Model [wikipedia.org]. My suspicion is the US Marshals Service [usmarshals.gov] is Level 0, but for the paranoid among us, Level -2 seems reasonable.
    According to CMU-SEI data, over 70% of all software organizations are at Level 1 (Chaotic) of the Capability Maturity Model. In reality many may lie below the merely chaotic, but no lower levels exist in the CMM.

    This article [smartmatix.com] defines and describes lower maturity levels and their associated Kounter Productive Attitudes (KPAs). O
  • Alright, they flubbed up and leaked everyone's email address; where is the list? Surely it's been posted somewhere, I'd like to take a look at it myself.

  • Reminds me of the time I got a recruiting email from MENSA where they made the same mistake. Nice job, geniuses!

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

Working...