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US Marshals leak likely Bitcoin auction bidders, by mistake

Committing a common email blunder, the government agency accidentally reveals a list of potential bidders for Silk Road's seized bitcoins.


It's happened to most people -- you write an email and press send only to realize the message also went to unintended recipients by accident. Well, that's what has happened to the US government.

The US Marshals Service admitted on Wednesday that it mistakenly leaked the names of more than a dozen people possibly preparing to anonymously bid on the agency's upcoming Bitcoin auction. The auction involves roughly 30,000 bitcoins that the government seized from the defunct online drug market Silk Road last fall.

A spokeswoman for the US Marshals Service told CNET that the agency intended to send a bcc email to interested bidders and unintentionally cc'd the list instead.

"The US Marshals Service inadvertently sent an email Wednesday revealing the email addresses of people who had submitted questions about the Bitcoin auction to a general USMS mailbox that had been created for the auction," US Marshals Service spokeswoman Lynzey Donahue told CNET. "The message was intended to blind copy everyone with an attached document that contained frequently asked questions and answers on the subject. 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."

Donahue said that only recipient email addresses were disclosed. However, many of those email addresses contained the names of people -- as some email addresses do. According to Bitcoin news site CoinDesk, several high-level investors and people within the Bitcoin community were on the list.

"The USMS apologizes for this mistake, which was in no way intentional," Donahue said.

The US Department of Justice announced the Bitcoin auction last week. Currently, Bitcoin is valued around $650 per coin, which means the 30,000 bitcoins could net the government nearly $20 million. The 12-hour auction is set to take place on June 27, and interested bidders have up until June 23 to register by making a $200,000 wire transfer to a government bank.

The government seized the 30,000 bitcoins when it took down Silk Road last fall and arrested the site's alleged mastermind Ross Ulbricht, aka "Dread Pirate Roberts." Reportedly, Ulbricht, 29, had earned nearly $80 million operating Silk Road.

(Via CoinDesk).