Man Seeks $13 Million in Bitcoin from Feds for Wrongful Imprisonment

An Arkansas man is seeking restitution for an alleged wrongful conviction in connection with an AT&T hacking case.

May 20, 2014 at 7:25 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 2:07 p.m. UTC

A 28-year-old Arkansas man is invoicing the US government, payable in bitcoin.

Andrew Auernheimer of Fayetteville, Arkansas — known by his online handle 'weev', was convicted of computer fraud in 2012, although he has been set free on appeal. The invoice is a claim for compensation for an alleged case of wrongful imprisonment.

In a letter, described as 'an invoice for services rendered', Auernheimer writes:

"I am owed 28,296 bitcoins. I do not accept United States dollars, as it is the preferred currency of criminal organizations such as the FBI, DOJ, ATF and Federal Reserve and I do not assist criminal racketeering enterprises."

The exact figure of 28,296 BTC, Auernheimer says, is compensation for his time in captivity at 1 BTC per hour.

At a recent bitcoin price valuation, that would be worth over $13.7m.

AT&T hacking case

Auernheimer has been accused, along with a co-conspirator, of exploiting a flaw in AT&T's servers exposing more than 114,000 iPad user email addresses.

The vulnerability was then publicized by Gawker, causing a public relations issue for Apple.

In 2011, Auernheimer was arrested in Arkansas, and was then taken to New Jersey where he awaited trial. After his conviction on computer fraud charges, he spent 13 months at Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex in Pennsylvania.

The case against Auernheimer was turned over on appeal earlier this year, due to jurisdiction. Exposing the AT&T flaw, judges in the case ruled, was carried out by Auernheimer not in New Jersey, but in his home state of Arkansas.

He was set free on 11th April.

— Andrew Auernheimer (@rabite) May 20, 2014

Forthcoming lawsuit

Auernheimer's invoicing of the federal government in BTC is a creative way to publicize his plight, and there are indications that there will also be a civil lawsuit filed as well.

Even so, the US Attorney in New Jersey has made it known he may appeal the data breach case Auernheimer was involved in, reportedly to the Supreme Court.

In comments made to RT, Auernheimer expresses his view the government treated him unfairly:

“I want history to record that I made an honest and public attempt to get restitution for the violence the government committed against me.

Whatever I do next, I want people to know that I tried civil and peaceful resolution first."

Notably, the US government does own enough bitcoin to pay the invoice, having seized it via criminal cases.

In January, a judge signed off on a forfeiture order for 29,655 bitcoins that were confiscated from the defunct online marketplace Silk Road.

Jail image via Shutterstock

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