It was supposed to an anonymous auction for a mostly anonymous currency. Instead, the bidders registered for the US Marshals auctioning of Silk Road coins got a surprise e-mail showing all 40 of their e-mail addresses.
The sender had apparently accidentally replied to all when responding to an inquiry from one of the bidders. The personal names of many participants were included or easily identifiable from the addresses.
Shortly thereafter, the sender attempted to recall the message (when will MS get rid of this feature which makes everyone using it look highly incompetent?):
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Prior to this, most of the process was to be carried out manually on paper- until the submission of documents, which had to be sent to USMSBitcoins@usdoj.gov. Even the receipt from the $200,000 wire transfer was to be sent this way.
There are good reasons why governments and their affiliated departments generally refrain from contacting their clients via e-mail, an obvious one being security vulnerabilities arising from no fault of their own. With this gaffe, it’s even more puzzling why USMS chose this channel to communicate.
In March, a representative from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) contacted the operator of MPEx, Mircea Popescu, via e-mail regarding their investigation of SatoshiDice. Popescu did not cooperate and posted their correspondence online. Such is becoming common in the crypto world, with Jesse Powell posting a Cease and Desist letter on reddit. The letter was sent by Ripple’s legal representative via e-mail, who threatened to do the same if Powell doesn’t comply.