During the weekend, the bitcoin exchange BTC-E appeared to temporarily suspend bitcoin withdrawals. Users speculated this was done to track down bitcoins stolen on the Evolution marketplace.  

On Saturday, March 21st, users began to experience problems with bitcoin withdrawals from the major bitcoin exchange BTC-E. Users were quick to decide that these problems were related to the recent disappearance of the Evolution dark web marketplace. The rumour started when the user paulgr, moderator of the BTC-E chat room, wrote:

“The support team is reviewing every withdrawal before releasing coins as there have been people that have been getting PM’s that are offering coins to help with withdrawals. It seems some of the stolen [Evolution] coins have made it into the system. DON’T accept any coins to help withdraw”.

The supposed ‘colouring’ of bitcoins provoked a discussion of more than 500 comments on Reddit. Many claimed that “money has to be fungible or it will not work” and criticised BTC-E for setting “a very dangerous precedent”. Others expressed their support for BTC-E, saying that the exchange is private, it “is free to accept and sell any coins it wants or doesn’t want” and, besides, it is good to track down stolen coins. Still others pointed to the fact that coins lost in the shutdown of Evolution had been stolen from drug dealers and other criminals. According to the user 598XOT45,

“It's ok guys once all the exchanges give the drug vendors and buyers their money back it will make a great headline. ‘Bitcoin bails out drug market victims’”

BTC-E has not yet commented on the speculation regarding stolen coins. Instead, it used its Twitter feed first to announce that it was experiencing network problems and its server would be temporarily unavailable and later to say that situation had normalized.

Evolution was a top bitcoin marketplace for drugs, weapons, and stolen identity and credit cards. As CoinFox wrote earlier, it simply vanished on Tuesday, March 17th, its owners allegedly stealing $12 million from the users.