A lawyer for a major US lobbying firm has been arrested and charged after trying to sell confidential information for bitcoin.
According to court documents filed on 1st February and unsealed yesterday, Jeffrey Wertkin sought to sell a criminal complaint related to a whistleblower case for $310,000, asking that he be paid in bitcoin for the offer.
Wertkin, who was arrested on 31st January, was previously a partner for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, a major Washington, DC-based law practice and lobbying firm. According to OpenSecrets.org, the firm’s clients include AT&T, Volkswagen and Mobil Oil, among others.
Wertkin also served six years as a trial lawyer for the US Justice Department, The New York Times reported yesterday.
Court documents show that Wertkin reached out to an unnamed employee of a California cybersecurity firm, ultimately moving to sell that individual sealed information related to a complaint that had been filed against the company.
Using the moniker “Dan”, Wertkin sent a partial copy of the complaint to the company, offering a full copy in exchange for $310,000 in bitcoin.
The filing states:
“…Dan suggested to EMPLOYEE that Dan be paid in bitcoin and explained to EMPLOYEE how bitcoin worked and that the advantage to bitcoin was that it could not be traced.”
Wertkin and the employee, after a series of additional conversations, were scheduled to meet at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cupertino, California. FBI agent William Scanlon, who submitted the affidavit, was waiting nearby in the place of the tech company employee.
Once the copy of the complaint was handed to Scanlon, other FBI agents quickly moved in to arrest Wertkin, who, according to the affidavit, “was wearing a wig which I believed was to conceal his identity”.
“My life is over,” Wertkin reportedly said as he was arrested.
A full copy of the FBI affidavit can be found below:
FBI Affidavit by CoinDesk on Scribd
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