US Marshals to Auction Millions Worth of Bitcoin Next Month

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Auction and bidding concept. Hand holding auction paddle. Flat vector illustration.
On November 5, the U.S. Marshals Service is auctioning 660 Bitcoins (over $4 million) forfeited in 31 criminal, civil and administrative cases.

The U.S. Marshals Service is the oldest known federal law enforcement agency, and operates within the Department of Justice.

The agency was created over 200 years ago by the First Congress, in 1789.

However, this hasn’t stopped the Marshals from being involved with the seizure and auction of the modern digital currency Bitcoin, as it plans on auctioning off over $4 million on November 5.

The auction will occur over six hours and will be a “sealed bid auction,” in that the participants will not only be unable to view other competing bids, but also will be unable to change their bid after submitting it.

The auction also requires a deposit of $200,000 that will be returned to non-winning bidders, as well.

Marshals Tradition

A similar auction occurred earlier this year in January that involved over 3,800 Bitcoin, worth over $50 million at the time.

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The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) are an integral part of the government’s role in asset forfeiture, and the agency has assets worth over $1 billion as a result.

Bitcoin on the background of the graph
The U.S. Marshals Service is the oldest known federal law enforcement agency, and operates within the Department of Justice.

The issue of civil forfeiture has resurfaced especially with regards to the controversial Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has tried to encourage the practice.

In July 2017, Sessions told law enforcement officials in Minneapolis, “we’ve got to be careful…we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures.”

Many have criticized the practice, pointing out that law enforcement now seizes more assets and property from citizens than criminals did.

The November auction involves assets seized in over 30 federal, civil and administrative cases, a list of which can be found here.

Controversial Opportunity

After the takedown of Silk Road back in 2013, the government seized a large amount of Bitcoin from the darknet market.

Tim Draper, a well-known venture capitalist and cryptocurrency enthusiast, ended up purchasing over 29,000 Bitcoin.

The auction, which took place in 2014, was essential to helping the Silicon Valley legend increase his cryptocurrency stash, which he is confident will grow exponentially in value.

Riot Blockchain has also used these auctions to their advantage, obtaining 500 Bitcoin earlier this year in January.

It is known that the proceeds from these auctions go towards the agency, as well as the victims, but a spokesman for the USMS stated at the auction in January that “they will be handled differently, depending on the case.”

Aside from what many perceive to be the apparent lack of transparency, others criticize the fact that the USMS also missed out on a payday due to their timing regarding auctions, which could have aided both the agency as well as victims.

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