The US government is seeking to confiscate 500 bitcoins from individuals charged with creating and distributing forged identification documents.
On Thursday, the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio announced that four individuals had been indicted for allegedly manufacturing and transferring falsified documents such as drivers’ licenses and personal identification cards issued by the states of Ohio, Michigan, and Utah.
According to the indictments, authorities seized more than 500 bitcoins from the defendants — worth $5.4 million at the present exchange rate — along with $8,603 in cash and $265,299 worth of gold and silver bullion. The individuals had allegedly been running their forgery operation since 2013, but the press release did not indicate whether the addresses associated with those coins had claimed the Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold airdropped from their respective hard forks.
The Department of Justice has asked the court to force the defendants to forfeit those assets under the country’s controversial civil asset forfeiture laws, after which the government would likely auction them to the general public.
The government has held several such auctions over the years, most of which involved the 144,336 BTC seized from Ross Ulbricht, who operated the dark web marketplace Silk Road. The US Marshals Service only netted about $48 million from the Silk Road coins, which are now worth $1.6 billion — a figure that does not include the value of coins created through subsequent Bitcoin forks.
Last month, the Marshals auctioned off another 3,813 BTC seized from a variety of individuals charged in criminal, civil, and administrative cases.
As CCN reported, Finland’s government is also likely to hold its first Bitcoin sale, as the country’s Treasury Department has recommended that the government auction off approximately 2,000 BTC seized in connection with drug busts carried out in 2016. Most of these coins were seized from an individual later convicted of selling narcotics and performance-enhancing drugs on Silk Road. Those coins are now worth approximately $21.7 million.