May 30, 2024

Crypto’s killer app: serving legal papers

Friends, I believe we’ve found the most compelling use of the blockchain yet: serving people with legal documents. It is, in fact, even easier to serve notice of a lawsuit to someone using blockchain technology than it is in real life, because you don’t need a person’s identity to do it. What a breakthrough!

The case in question is a lawsuit by Ryan Dellone, who has served a wallet belonging to an unknown individual with notice that they’re being sued, Krebs on Security reports. (The wallet contains Bitcoin allegedly stolen from Dellone in a SIM-swapping attack.) Dellone used a short message and about $100 worth of Bitcoin to serve notice of the suit. It is the first of its kind.

Now, one of the fun ways that cryptocurrency wallets work is that anyone can drop anything in the wallet without the owner having to interact with or approve it — which makes it much easier to serve notice of a suit than, for instance, physically tracking someone down to hand them an envelope. You don’t even need an identity! In this case, Dellone doesn’t know who owns that wallet, which may have been already seized by the government as part of an asset forfeiture.

In Dellone’s case, the expected result is a default judgement that will allow him to seize the funds in the wallet should the wallet’s owner ever transact again. And if the feds already have the wallet, they’ll have to divulge information about the case to him.

This isn’t the first time that creative means have been used to serve crypto participants. In the case of Ooki DAO, the feds sent their service notice to all DAO participants through the DAO’s Help Chat box and by posting in the DAO’s online forums. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission won a default judgment in that case; the DAO was ordered to pay more than $640,000 in penalties and stop existing.

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