Next month, 660 bitcoins seized by US officials will be auctioned off—online, of course. And you’ll need to pony up a $200,000 deposit just to get the chance to make a bid.
The auction by the US Marshals Service begins at 8am US eastern time on Nov. 5 and is scheduled to run for six hours. At the current price of $6,396, the bitcoins up for grabs are worth a little over $4 million in total. Bids must be made in cash.
The service says the bitcoins “were forfeited in various federal criminal, civil and administrative cases” brought by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. Defendants in the cases included:
- Thomas Mario Costanzo, aka Morpheus Titania, a Mesa, Arizona bitcoin trader sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for money laundering who gave up 80.94512167 bitcoins as part of the deal.
- Louis Ong, a British Columbia man who forfeited cash and bitcoins worth more than $1 million earlier this year after selling bitcoins to federal agents posing as drug traffickers.
- Dark web fentanyl vendor Sky Justin Gornik, a San Diego man who surrendered “millions of dollars” in bitcoin and other cryptocurrency when he was sent to federal prison last May.
Five years ago, roughly 90% of all bitcoin transactions involved illicit activity; currency speculators accounted for the other 10%, according to the DEA. Today, the DEA says speculation is responsible for the bulk of bitcoin transactions, with illegal activity down to about 10%.
Sealed bids will be accepted for two series of bitcoins: Series A, which will consist of six blocks of 100 bitcoins, and Series B, which will be one block of 60 bitcoins. Bitcoin futures are currently trading at just under $6,400. Registration ends October 31.
Winners will have to abide by a very specific set of requirements, this being an official US government auction: ”The USMS will not transfer bitcoins to an obscene public address, a public address apparently in a country restricted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a public address apparently associated with terrorism, other criminal activities, or otherwise hostile to the United States.”