The Circular Economy of Stolen Goods


Nov 27, 2023


Cindy Grazer


Nov 27, 2023


Cindy Grazer


As we transition from a week of giving thanks to giving out our credit cards left and right to stock up on holiday essentials, consumer brands aren’t the only ones making large sales. Auction houses are also on a tear.

In addition to the job functions you might imagine the US Marshals Service to encompass, a little known responsibility includes seizing assets from crimes including wire fraud, drug dealing, and money laundering. Once seized, these duties extend to managing auction house outcomes, as proceeds are then directed to victims and other claimants - topping $500m in a single year - while additional funds are also allocated to state and local law enforcement.

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, Bloomberg Businessweek was able to parse through five years’ worth of sales that made up more than 25,000 items that made their way from the hands of criminals straight back to the hands of consumers.

While the vast majority of seized goods in recent years have been comprised of financial assets - namely Bitcoin and Ethereum - there are a few head scratchers to go along with the headlines. Some of the favorites include a houseboat, artwork by Andy Warhol, a 1991 Ferrari F40, and a horse named Cinda…not your average stocking stuffer!

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Portfolio News

MoneyLion Wins “Best Financial Literacy Tool” at Benzinga’s 2023 Global Fintech Awards - MoneyLion was honored alongside other top fintech companies, banks, research companies and others, having earned “Best Financial Literacy Tool” in back-to-back years. Read more

Jason Guss, CEO and co-founder of Octane Lending, on the future of software in fintech podcast - Miguel Armaza and Jason Guss discuss de-risking your business with early hires and the difference between missionary and mercenary talent; why they were forced to build a profitable business from day one and more. Read more

Plaid taps Adyen executive to lead its European operations - Dammeir was previously Adyen’s global head of unified commerce, a role he led out of the Dutch payment company’s San Francisco office. Dammeir oversaw a key part of Adyen’s business — joining up different payment experiences including online, in-store, and app-based, in one single platform. Read more

Coincover and Utila partner to enhance crypto asset management - In a move designed to bring together Coincover’s protection solutions and Utila’s secure, non-custodial wallet infrastructure, the new partnership offers a new MPC (Multi-Party Computation) solution that aims to simplify institutional access to crypto. Read more

The Circular Economy of Stolen Goods

Cars, crypto, and a horse named Cinda: Inside America's seized asset auctions - Every year, the US Marshals Service seizes tens of millions of dollars’ worth of fun collectibles and fast rides from criminals, and then lets the general public do some bidding. Read more

Industry News

Virtual credit cards: what are they and should you use them? - Virtual credit cards have existed for many years, but many consumers and business owners haven’t used them. Now, as online fraud and security breaches are on the rise, virtual credit cards are an underused tool that can help shoppers protect themselves, some security experts say. Read more

Germany announces close of €1b fund of funds to invest in German and European VC - A key part of the federal government’s Future Fund, set up in 2021, the new fund of funds will make more growth capital available to startups and to strengthen Germany and Europe as a business location. Read more

Where have all the foreign buyers gone for US Treasury debt? - Overseas private investors and central banks now own about 30% of all outstanding U.S. government debt, down from roughly 43% a decade ago. Read more

EU AI regulation could be derailed over France, Germany objections - The home countries of Europe’s most successful generative AI startups are blocking new rules for AI foundation models proposed in the AI Act talks, a move that could derail the wider EU AI Act and severely delay Europe-wide regulation on the sector. Read more

Wall Street’s ESG craze is fading - Investors pulled more than $14b from sustainable funds this year, after tightened regulatory oversight, higher interest rates that have slammed clean-energy stocks and a backlash that has made ESG investing a political target. Read more

Brazil’s maturing private credit markets attract US investment firms - Brazil is attracting US asset managers as investment risks increase in other markets, with Ares Management recently investing $100m to establish a foothold in Latin America’s largest economy. Read more

Higher interest rates are shattering housing dreams around the world - The shock that rippled through global housing markets as central banks rapidly raised interest rates last year has given way to a cold new reality: The real estate bonanza that fueled wealth for millions of people is over. Read more

Anthropic’s Claude 2.1 release shows the competition isn’t rubbernecking the OpenAI disaster - Anthropic just released Claude 2.1 an improvement on its flagship large language model that keeps it competitive with the GPT series. This new update to Claude has three major improvements: context window, accuracy, and extensibility. Read more

South Korea’s national pension fund buys $19.9m worth of Coinbase shares - This is the first time that NPS — whose assets under management reached $755b at the end of June — has made any crypto-related security part of its investment portfolio. Read more

Will employers pass the college planning test? - Employers that provide matching contributions for their workers will be able to do so for those who aren’t contributing to plans on their own but are paying down student loans. Numerous retirement plan record keepers are adding that capability to their systems, and newer companies like Candidly and Vestwell’s Gradifi offer such programs. Read more

Intelligent document processing market to hit $11.3b by 2030 - Organizations across industries are increasingly recognizing the value of automating document-centric processes. IDP not only reduces the risk of errors but also ensures adherence to regulatory standards. Read more

Private equity resorts to buying back companies after IPO flops - The tactic underscores the difficulties that buyout groups have had exiting their portfolio companies via the public markets, historically an important way of monetising their largest assets. In 2021, with public markets trading at record highs, buyout houses floated a record 287 companies worth just shy of $140b. Read more

What does the UK autumn statement mean for startups? - £4.5b will be made available to invest across eight sectors that the government deems “key to economic growth”, with a particular focus on green technologies. Read more

Japanese exchange plans to start digital securities trading - Ichigo, based in Tokyo, plans to offer over $20m worth of digital securities backed by real estate on the Osaka Digital Exchange. Read more

Leading asset manager Fidelity submits an application for a Spot Ethereum Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) - The Boston-based asset manager is the latest traditional finance heavyweight to turn its focus on Ether funds. BlackRock filed for spot Ether fund on November 9, joining Ark Invest in the hunt for approval. Read more

Select Financings

Crezco - London based account-to-account payments company raised $12m in Series A funding led by MMC Ventures. Read more

Dwellsy - California based home rental marketplace and data provider raised $11.5m in Seed funding led by Ulu Ventures. Read more

Every.io - San Francisco based provider of a back office stack for startups raised $9.5m in Seed funding led by Base10. Read more

Fence - Madrid based debt software company raised €1.8m in pre Seed funding led by Semantic.vc. Read more

HappyPal - Paris based employee benefits platform raised €7m in Series A funding led by Educapital. Read more

Indy - France based tax and paperwork platform for freelancers raised $44m in new funding led by BlackFin Capital Partners. Read more

Kiwi - India based digital credit card company raised $13m in Series A funding led by Omidyar Network India. Read more

Panoptic - Boston based decentralized finance protocol raised $7m in Seed funding led by Greenfield Capital. Read more

Privy - New York based blockchain-powered white label loyalty platform raised $18m in Series A funding led by Paradigm. Read more

Silverflow - Amsterdam based payment processing company raised €15m in new funding led by Global Paytech Ventures. Read more

Superstate - US based asset manager of regulated, self-custodied on-chain funds raised $14m in Series A funding led by Distributed Global. Read more

VersiFi - New York based digital asset lending and trading firm raised $10m in Series A funding led by Hunting Hill Global Capital. Read more

WealthOS - London based cloud-based wealth management platform raised £2m in Seed funding led by Barclays. Read more


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