In June, the U.S. government casually auctioned off some spare litecoin, bitcoin and bitcoin cash.
Lot 4TQSCI21402001 — one of 11 on offer over the four-day auction — included 150.22567153 litecoin and 0.00022893 bitcoin cash, worth more than $21,000 at today’s prices. The crypto property had been confiscated as part of a tax noncompliance case.
This kind of sale is nothing new for Uncle Sam. For years, the government has been seizing, stockpiling and selling off cryptocurrencies, alongside the usual assets one would expect from high-profile criminal sting operations.
“It could be 10 boats, 12 cars, and then one of the lots is X number of bitcoin being auctioned,” explained Jarod Koopman, director of the IRS’ cybercrime unit.
FBI agents finish loading materials into a truck out of the home of United Auto Workers President Gary Jones on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019.
Michael Wayland / CNBC
Koopman’s team of IRS agents don’t fit the stereotypical mold. They are sworn law enforcement officers who carry weapons and badges and who execute search, arrest and seizure warrants. They also bring back record amounts of cryptocash.
“In fiscal year 2019, we had about $700,000 worth of crypto seizures. In 2020, it was up to $137 million. And so far in 2021, we’re at $1.2 billion,” Koopman told CNBC. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30.