300 Ether Held in Private Wallet Targeted in Federal Civil Forfeiture Action

News | May 21, 2024 By:

On Tuesday, May 7, 2024, the United States government filed a civil forfeiture action against approximately 300 units of the cryptocurrency Ether. According to court documents, the Ether is currently held in a privately hosted digital wallet identified as ending in D3E8.

The forfeiture complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, alleges the Ether is subject to forfeiture pursuant to federal money laundering laws as it constitutes proceeds traceable to criminal activity. Specifically, the government claims the cryptocurrency, seized on December 6, 2023, is derived from wire fraud, which is a violation of federal statutes.

The legal action names the 300 Ether as the defendant property rather than an individual. This approach is common in in rem civil forfeiture cases, where the seized assets themselves are the target defendants rather than a person.

If forfeited, the government would take full legal ownership of the Ether and could then liquidate or redistribute the virtual currency assets as prescribed by law. The complaint seeks forfeiture based on an attached law enforcement declaration that provides further details of the underlying criminal investigation, though these background facts are not publicly available at this time.

Ether is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain network, the second-largest cryptocurrency platform by market value behind Bitcoin. Like Bitcoin, Ether employs cryptography and a digital ledger called a blockchain to securely manage units of the currency without a central authority. The complaint identifies the wallet as privately hosted rather than one hosted through a major crypto exchange, indicating more individual control of the funds.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland filed the forfeiture action on behalf of the government. A hearing date in the civil case has not yet been set. The fate of the 300 Ether, currently worth over $300,000, will be determined through legal proceedings. The owner of the wallet, named in documents as Noman Saleem, now has an opportunity to contest the forfeiture in court if they wish to recover the funds.

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.