CONFIRMED: List of Possible Silk Road Bitcoin Bidders Leaked by US Marshals

The US Marshals Service accidentally leaked a list of potential participants in the auction of 30,000 Silk Road bitcoins.

AccessTimeIconJun 18, 2014 at 6:15 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 6, 2023 at 3:12 p.m. UTC

UPDATE (18th June 22:25 BST): Updated with comment from Lynzey Donahue, a U.S. Marshals spokeswoman.

UPDATE (18th June 21:30 BST): Yelp's Luther Lowe contacted CoinDesk to clarify that he contacted the USMS regarding its auction of Silk Road bitcoins as a private investor, and not on behalf of the e-commerce company.

A list of individuals interested in the auction of the 30,000 bitcoins confiscated from the now-defunct Silk Road black marketplace has been leaked via email by the US Marshals Service (USMS), the US government agency confirmed.

In a statement to CoinDesk, Lynzey Donahue, a US Marshals spokeswoman, indicated that the emailer had intended to send all the recipients an attached informational document and to blind copy all those it intended to contact. The US Marshals service is the federal agency that has been charged with carrying out the auction of the bitcoins, originally seized by the FBI.

Donahue explained:

"The message was not intended for any particular group of people, but for anyone who had emailed a question to the general mailbox to ask about the auction. Only recipient email addresses were disclosed."

She added: "The USMS apologizes for this mistake which was in no way intentional".

The original intent of the email was more specifically to inform the interested parties about an updated FAQ related to the bitcoin auction. However, the resulting leaked list details a diverse group of individuals and possible bidders representing members of the bitcoin community and the investment world.

The list of names includes:

Some organizations and investors who have previously expressed interest in buying the bitcoins were not represented on the leaked list.

The USMS indicated that the email was sent to anyone who had emailed to learn about the auction, and suggested that not all of the parties had necessarily expressed an interest in bidding on the bitcoins, though all expressed an interest in the process.

The government wrote in its response to those on the email chain:

"One of the emails that we sent out this morning inadvertently showed a list of some of the individuals who have asked a question or questions about the pending bitcoin auction. We apologize for the error."

$18m in bitcoin at stake

The USMS is hoping to sell the Silk Road bitcoins, which are currently worth around $18m, in nine separate blocks. According to the government agency, there are strict guidelines that must be adhered to in order for potential buyers to be entered into the auction.

Those interested in purchasing some of the confiscated Silk Road bitcoins have until 23rd June to submit information to the USMS.

The auction itself will take place on 27th June, with bidders being notified of the results sometime on 30th June, the agency has said.

Silk Road saga continues

The auction is set to take place months after the US government first began investigating Silk Road and its alleged mastermind, Ross Ulbricht. The roughly 30,000 bitcoins were taken from the site’s master wallet, with the USMS announcing last week that the bitcoins would be up for grabs during several rounds of bidding.

The US government first announced its intent to sell the bitcoins this January, a decision which caused a strong price reaction from bitcoin investors.

Notably, the 30,000 BTC total does not include the estimated 140,000 BTC belonging to alleged Silk Road leader Ross Ulbricht, who has sued to contest the sale of these assets.

Additional reporting provided by Stan Higgins, Emily Spaven, Grace Caffyn and Pete Rizzo.


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