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U.K. Police Set to Auction Seized Bitcoins

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The police force in the United Kingdom will be auctioning Bitcoins taken from apprehended criminals this week, in a move that will be the first of its kind in the country.

According to an announcement made earlier this month, Wilsons Auctions, an auction house based out of Ireland, will be handling the auction. The press release confirmed that the action would be starting on September 25, and apart from setting no reserves, Wilsons will reportedly be selling it all to the highest bidder.

Criminals are feeding the system

The Bitcoins to be auctioned off are worth a reported £500,000 ($662,000). Police reportedly seized the loot from a criminal who was involved in the illegal sales of personal data, and who provided hacking services to several criminal Outfits in exchange for payments in cryptocurrencies. 

The release also claimed that other assets, including Ether and XRP, will be auctioned this week as well. According to the announcement, lots ranging from 0.25 to 2 BTC (about $4,200 to $16,800 as at press time) will be sold across two days. The sales conducted on Wednesday will be strictly online. However, Thursday’s sales will be open to bidders both online and physically. Other confiscated items (such as luxury watches, cars, and pieces of jewelry) will be auctioned off on Thursday as well. 

Anyone looking to partake in the auction will be required to provide a copy of their passport or driver’s license, as well as proper proof of their address. 

Bitcoin auctioning isn’t so rare

Although this is the first time that police in the U.K. is auctioning of Bitcoin, it isn’t quite a rarity for governments to resell the Bitcoins that they seize from criminals.

This February, Wilsons Auctions helped the Belgian government to sell about 315 Bitcoins (worth about $3.1 million at the time), all of which were also seized from drug traffickers on the Dark Web. In its announcement, the auction company put the price of the entire lot at £300,000.

As for the United States, auctioning Bitcoins is commonplace at this point. From as far back as 2015, Uncle Sam has been in the business of making money off confiscated Bitcoins. That year, the government announced that it would be selling about 2,700 BTC tokens (worth about $1.6 million then), most of which were seized from criminals affiliated with the Dark Web platform Silk Road. 

On January 11, 2019, the United States Marshals Service announced that it would be auctioning off 3,800 BTC (worth about $30 million at the time).

While it had initially planned to sell off 3,800 BTC tokens, only 3,600 were eventually sold, as the Marshals blamed “technical issues” for their inability to meet their target. All prospective bidders were made to register by paying $200,000 in deposits, as well as completing a registration process. By February, the Bitcoins were eventually transferred to five winning bidders, one of which was Riot Blockchain. 

Purchasing Bitcoin from the government might not be how many might have pictured their foray into crypto, but given the significant discounts that you could get when you register, this might not be a bad idea as well.

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