San Francisco Court Orders Suspect to Pay Bail in Cryptocurrency

According to new federal court decision, a suspect charged with hacking video game company Electronic Arts has been ordered to pay bail in cryptocurrency.

Nothing Wrong with Bail Payment Made via Cryptocurrency

Judge Jacqueline Corley of the Federal Court in San Francisco on Thursday, August 16th, ordered Martin Marsich to pay his $750,000 bail in Bitcoin or any other kind of cryptocurrency. The suspect is being charged with hacking the Redwood City-based video game company Electronic Arts.

Martin Marsich is accused of accessing the company’s internal computer network. He then gained access to 25,000 accounts that allow customers to buy items for use in video games.

The suspect has been charged with deliberately accessing a protected computer to get information for private financial gain and fraudulent purposes.

The bail requirement isn’t new, according to U.S. Assistant District Attorney Abraham Simmons. The attorney said that it wasn’t the first time judges allowed cryptocurrency for bail. One unusual feature of the bail, however, is that a change in the value of the currency could lead to either party filing a motion to change the bail amount.

Further buttressing his statement, Simmons said,

“It really is quite broad. The judge could order just about anything. What the objective is is to get the defendant to comply with an order to appear later. The idea is to get him to court, not necessarily to maintain the value of any particular asset. I would imagine that either side would alert the court of an extreme change in the value of the asset, but it doesn’t mean that the court would care one way or the other.”

While the San Francisco Federal Court seems to have no qualms about crypto bail payments, the situation in the lower courts is entirely different. According to Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo County District Attorney, he had never heard of anyone bailing out of a courtroom with cryptocurrency, and he doesn’t think a crypto bail would be acceptable in the San Mateo County Superior Court. According to the attorney, “They’re strictly certified checks and currency. I think they take only greenbacks.”

Cryptocurrency and the Legal System

More and more, the court system is having a new type of crime brought into the courtroom: cryptocurrency fraud. Because of its decentralized, anonymous, and unregulated nature, cryptocurrency has become a useful tool for scammers. With the U.S. SEC crackdown on dubious crypto exchanges, the legal system is not giving crypto-related frauds the kid-glove treatment. In June 2018, Bittrex aided in returning stolen funds to Elizabeth White of The White Company. This was after the Superior Court of Delaware awarded White over $2.7 million in May 2018.

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