Marshals Service accidentally reveals bitcoin bidders’ identities

In a slip-up on Wednesday, the U.S. Marshals Service accidentally released the list of dozens of bidders trying to get their hands on $18 million worth of bitcoin seized by the government last year.

An agency official made a mistake common to many office workers by accidentally cc'ing 40 bidders on a message that meant to bcc the recipients.


As a result, the bidders’ email addresses become public and many of their identities were revealed, even though the auction was supposed to be anonymous.

“The message was intended to blind copy everyone with an attached document that contained frequently asked questions and answers on the subject,” Marshals spokeswoman Lynzey Donahue explained in a statement.

“The USMS apologizes for this mistake which was in no way intentional.”

Among the reported bidders revealed by the email is the public policy director at Yelp, a co-founder of bitcoin firm Coinbase and a finance professor at Rowan University.

The Marshals Service is in the process of auctioning off nearly 30,000 bitcoins that were seized from the Internet black market Silk Road when the government shut it down last year. The marketplace operated solely in bitcoin, which people can use relatively anonymously, and offered a wide range of drugs and other illicit goods.

The 12-hour auction is set to take place on June 27, and winners are due to be notified on June 30. The service is selling off nine blocks of 3,000 bitcoins each and one block of 2,656 bitcoins.