The 3 Biggest Bitcoin Scandals From 2015
1. US Secret Service Agent Imprisoned After Bitcoin Theft
Shaun Bridges, ex US Secret Service Agent, was handed a sentence of 5 years 11 months after stealing $820,000 (£546,000) in electronic currency from online illegal drug trade Silk Road.
Bridges was part of a special unit tasked with investigating the activities of the Silk Road marketplace, a site used to trade various illegal goods. After access was given to him, he stole close to $1m in Bitcoin and attempted to pin the crime on a cooperating witness. As a result, an alleged hit was ordered on this witness by the founder of Silk Road, however the hit was never carried out.
Bridges has since accepted full responsibility for his actions and has said that he did not spend the money that he stole. He later commented that he had lost, “a very illustrious career”.
Carl Force, a DEA agent on the same investigation task force as Bridges was separately charged with selling information and pleaded guilty to extortion among other crimes. Force was charged and sentenced to six years imprisonment in October.
2. Seals With Clubs Poker Site Closed After Apartment Raid
Armed police raided the apartment of Seals with Clubs owner, Bryan Micon, in the early morning of February 11. Seals with Clubs, the world’s biggest Bitcoin poker site, was shut down soon after this raid and Micon fled to Antigua with his family.
According to Micon, the police did not, “formally charge him with any crime”, but handed him a warrant from the Nevada Gambling Commission, accusing him of violating the Nevada Revised Statuses and operating an online gambling site without the appropriate licenses required by law in the state of Nevada.
Micon said that people know he is a, “non-violent man”, and believes that the actions undertaken by police were completely unnecessary.
Seals with Clubs was already under stress from a series of technical difficulties and Micon admits that the timing of this raid in relation to these technical issues has led to some suspicion.
“One would assume that the two events are connected, but it is impossible to see how”, Micon stated. “It’s simply impossible to understand what exactly happened.”
What is known, however, is that Micon’s Seals with Clubs partner bowed out of the venture following the raid and the technical difficulties and left everything with Micon himself. Seals with Clubs was later reinvented as SWC Poker and has been an extremely successful poker room (read more here).
3. CEO of MT. Gox Bought a $48,000 Bed
Former CEO of Bitcoin exchange MT. Gox, Mark Karpeles, has been accused of embezzling funds to the value of $2.6 million worth of Bitcoin.
Allegedly, Karpeles spent the majority of the embezzled funds on software rights, but it’s been reported that he also spent $48,000 on a new bed for himself.
Having been under scrutiny before, this is the first formal charge that Kareples has faced, and his time in custody will allow police to investigate the matter further, perhaps adding another charge of embezzling Bitcoin worth $480 million at the time.
Once responsible for around 80% of all Bitcoin transactions, Mt. Gox was closed down in 2014 under suspicious circumstances. It has been reported that the US Government has seized some of MT. Gox’s funds.
There is no news yet as to who will pick up where MT. Gox left off, and this has been damaging to the reputation of the digital currency. As it stands, many angry investors are unable to access their funds and it is not yet clear whether they will ever be able to retrieve them.