Earlier this week, a federal judge sentenced Carl Mark Force IV to more than six years in prison after Force admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of bitcoins. It didn’t help that Force himself was part of an undercover effort by the Drug Enforcement Administration to bust the virtual drug marketplace, Silk Road. Somewhere along the way, Force had turned to the dark side.
To many who aren’t familiar with Bitcoin, an electronic form of cash, stories like these can make the online currency seem like catnip for criminals. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) last year urged a ban on Bitcoin for precisely that reason, saying it helped people “transacting in illegal goods and services or speculative gambling.”
But now, as part of a wider effort to change Bitcoin’s image in the minds of regulators and lawmakers, advocates of the technology have begun working with a group whose background and expertise make them well-respected within the Beltway: Federal law enforcement.
The Justice Department, Secret Service and other agencies are beginning to understand how to use Bitcoin