I just got back from a highly successful east coast tour which included both speaking at Bitcoin In The Beltway, and vending at the eleventh annual Porcupine Freedom Festival, both of which were highly lucrative. I’ve said many times that Bitcoin is a tool for personal freedom, and I’ve also said that freedom requires personal responsibility. So, when Bitcoin goes missing while I’m at the helm I have no one to blame but myself.
In Washington DC I spoke on the non-profit panel with Jason King, Andreas Antonopoulos, and Meghan Lords, which was well received. I also gave my own talk titled, “Getting To Know Your Regulators,” in which I compared and contrasted market driven conferences like Bitcoin In The Beltway, with taxpayer funded junkets by regulatory agencies like the DOJ, IRS, VA, and GSA. I also I discussed some of the science which explains the lies and hypocrisy of the regulators. Best of all we did our first ever episode of The Bitcoin Group where we were all together in one room.
I also had a vending table where I sold hats, stickers, lapel pins and a variety of other Bitcoin related swag. This included the orange Bitcoin Not Bombs t-shirts, which are a fund raising instrument for the Hoodie The Homeless campaign. Every t-shirt sold is priced to give a hoodie to a homeless person at the end of the year.
After missing my flight to New Hampshire, I caught a ride to PorcFest with friend of liberty Tim Frey from Roberts & Roberts Brokerage.
Although this was only my second PorcFest, it was exponentially better than my first, in part because I subsisted so fully on the goodwill of the community.
You have to understand that I was totally loaded down with merchandise. My two largest suitcases were filled with Shiny Badges products from home. I also had 250 PorcScouts multi-tools manufactured and shipped directly to the campground to help promote my zombie novel, Survivor Max. Friends from Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin brought in shipments of t-shirts for me. And Singing Tall Grass sent me some “Bitcoin Not Bugs” bug spray. And or course, I brought the Bitcoin Bomber shirts I was selling on behalf of Bitcoin Not Bombs.
This was a Hail Mary pass for Shiny Badges. I had no infrastructure. No tents. No tables. Just 12 boxes of merchandise and the picnic table provided by the campground. I didn’t even bring enough food and clothes for myself, trusting the community and the market to provide for me.
It was a colossal success. Within the first four hours Ben Stone from the Bad Quaker Podcast had lent me a table and stakes for a clothesline, Paul Ritter had lent me a pop up tent, and Ernest Hancock from Freedom’s Phoenix lent me a second pop up tent, and two more tables. Suddenly I had a veritable mini mall at my vending site. I know for many people the idea of spending the week hawking their wares sounds like a lot of work, but to me it’s a vacation, and a pleasure.
To give you some idea, at PorcFest last year our booth took in about 3 Bitcoin all week. At the time Bitcoin was about $100. This year I took in 3 Bitcoin the first day, when Bitcoin was about $600. By the end of the week we had earned over 8 Bitcoin for our various commercial and non-profit partners, which is a windfall I could hardly believe.
Then it was all stolen.
I had been using a Shiny Badges mobile wallet for the event. It wasn’t my primary wallet, which is more secure, so I’m not going to starve, but it was the wallet I usually use for conferences and festivals because I had QR code payment cards printed to make vending easy. Typically, when I get home from an event I go into the account and divide the funds among the interested parties, but the wallet was mine personally, and therefore my responsibility. The truly embarrassing thing about it is that Drew Phillips, Thomas Hunt, and Blake Anderson all repeatedly cajoled me to beef up my security, and moving the Bitcoin to a more secure location was literally the next thing on my task list when I watched it disappear. So, this was a very opportunistic crime.
As best as I can tell, the thief hacked into my gmail account, and from their gained access to all my Blockchain wallets, which is my own fault for never setting up two-factor authentication on both the wallets and my email, despite numerous warnings from experienced bitcoiners close to me. Figuring out security was always just something I thought I could figure out later.
My total losses are 8.37266084 BTC, which were my earnings from PorcFest, 0.12237595 BTC, which were the BEARCAT Defense Fund, and 0.26952621 BTC, which had been raised for the Authoritarian Sociopathy project. All of these funds were diverted to bitcoin address 1M31pk17UGtiqznoBbJEMu2dTfmMAd8EAH, although if the thief has any idea what they are doing, that address will prove untraceable.
The BEARCAT Defense Fund is a donation drive to support anti-police militarization activism. The Authoritarian Sociopathy project was a donation drive to fund a renegade psychological experiment on police brutality. In addition, a portion of my earnings from PorcFest were destined for the Hoodie The Homeless campaign, based on how many Bitcoin Not Bombs shirts were sold. I’m fully committed to fulfilling all my obligations to these donation drives. The security blunder was mine, not theirs. So, I replenished what was lost from my personal savings.
The wallets of the BEARCAT Defense Fund and Authoritarian Sociopathy were compromised, so I created new wallets on a more secure platform and replaced what was stolen. You can follow the links to confirm the funds are present.
BEARCAT Defense Fund: 1KA3PcWRBAPoTAXyuRwKncY4ChDsDUyCBy
Authoritarian Sociopathy: 1BnAeWodsXMG4U2r9P6cHXD9DDfvJLZLvF
None of the Bitcoin Not Bombs wallets were compromised, and they are not susceptible to this kind of attack. 42 of the 50 Bitcoin Bomber shirts sold, so I owed Bitcoin Not Bombs $1260. Half went into the Hoodie The Homeless fund to puchase hoodies at the end of the year, and half went into the Bitcoin Not Bombs general fund to resupply the t shirts. I sent 0.9915 BTC to each, and you can follow the links to confirm.
Hoodie the Homeless: 1HnVzTJMrDZP4NfZM5R1GLsKF1PtfGNQvA
Bitcoin Not Bombs: 1BMpEgJbPCGF65Nv4RuA5v8gq6BbbKG5Ux
So, I’ve made some changes with all my personal accounts. I’ve changed all my passwords. I’ve put two factor authentication on everything that offers it. I’ve put the bulk of my Bitcoin onto paper wallets. I’ve installed Mycelium on my phone for future events, which I’m told is more secure than the mobile wallet I was using. And so, in some ways it feels like PorcFest never happened. Worse, I was deeply invested in all these new products, and now that they’ve sold, and the buzz is created, I don’t have the funds to order more. Shiny Badges is going to be in some financial straits for a while. But, in another sense I came home from PorcFest with something priceless. I met online friends in meat space for the first time. I formed new friendships sure to last a lifetime. As a co-host on the Freedom Feens I participated in some of the best radio broadcasts I’ve ever heard. And most importantly I earned the esteem of many, as many earned my esteem, which is a commodity that can’t be stolen. Wipe away the profit, and PorcFest remains a priceless experience.
Many have suggested that I was targeted because of my high profile, and even that the thief was squatting in my wallet for a long time, waiting for the right moment to sweep the funds. I’m a public speaker, a writer, and a frequent guest-host on numerous Bitcoin related shows. I’m also a merchant, and a full time Agorist. If that’s the case, then maybe my experience can serve as a warning to others. Two factor authentication is your friend. Don’t put it off. But even that is not foolproof. For more comprehensive security advice, check out Fr33 Aid’s post on the subject.
If I was targeted, that also means there is a very real possibility that my thief is reading this. If that’s the case, all I can say is please give it back. I’ve created a new secure wallet just for you: 1J5DacqEjPE9u15iyGRfkBCmFJULptTW1o
And if that doesn’t appeal to you, send it to FreeRoss.org. I guarantee you, even if you tell no one, the reward you’ll feel when you’re alone in the dark will be worth far more than the money you’ve stolen, in fact it will be priceless.