Bitcoin auction going ahead despite US Marshals gaffe

The U.S. Marshals Service is going ahead with an auction of US$18 million in bitcoins even though it inadvertently leaked the identities of potential bidders.

“The auction is proceeding as planned,” a spokeswoman for the service wrote in an email early Friday following revelations that the service had leaked the email addresses of people interested in the auction. It remains set for June 27.

The addresses of the potential bidders were mistakenly copied to recipients of an email sent Wednesday with information about the auction, the Marshals Service said.

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

“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.”

About 30,000 bitcoins divided into 10 blocks will be up for grabs for a 12-hour period on June 27.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation seized the coins from servers belonging to Silk Road, a site that served as an underground market for drugs and other illegal goods.

The Marshals Service would not confirm any names that were revealed in the leak.

Bitcoin site CoinDesk, which originally reported the leak, said the potential bidders include figures such as Barry Silbert, CEO of SecondMarket, which is organizing a syndicate for the auction, and Luther Lowe, director of public policy for Yelp.

One bitcoin was worth about $592 on Friday, according to CoinDesk.

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