While attempting to leave the country on August 8th at San Francisco International Airport, alleged hacker Martin Marsich, a Serbian and Italian national was detained and appeared in court the following day to answer to charges of hacking a video game network owned by EA Games. This alleged attack resulted in compromised player accounts, marketing in-game items to players for money, and selling online access to the game over black-market online websites.
An FBI agent filed an affidavit in connection with the complaint by EA Games after discovering the breach in March. The company values the damages at $324,000 and involved as many as 25,000 accounts being compromised and exploited for personal financial gain.
The Department of Justice stated:
“ The complaint charges Marsich with intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization to obtain information for the purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain…and accessing a protected computer to defraud and obtain anything of value.” “
Federal Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Corley ordered Marsich to pay cryptocurrency as bail to be released at the equivalent of $750,000. You may recall, Judge Corley was in the news over the controversial ruling which ordered cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase to surrender data on it's US customers to the IRS for tax purposes in November of 2017.
A Growing Trend
US Government offices accepting or requesting cryptocurrencies as tender is a growing trend with examples like Seminole County Florida accepting Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash as payment for property tax and other public transactions. Democrat Rep. Michael Zalewski, sponsored bill HB5335 in the100th General Assembly – Illinois proposing an amendment to the Department of Revenue Law of the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois allowing the acceptance of cryptocurrencies in payment of taxes. It's outlined the payments would be converted into fiat within 24 hours of being received. A brief google search reveals many other similar situations.
Why require cryptocurrency for bail payment?
It's unclear why Judge Corley issued the order Marsich's bail only be issued if paid using Cryptocurrency. Given the nature of blockchain's public ledger, could the court be interested in identifying his wallet for further investigation of his other transactions? It's reasonable to expect Governments everywhere will be taking advantage of the transaction transparency Blockchain provides which Fiat cannot.
Maybe she's just feeling a little bullish on cryptocurrencies and intends on qualifying the department for price speculation? After all, Judge Corley is quite experienced on the topic having presided over cases involving Coinbase which is based in San Francisco.
ICNN.news will report as this story develops.