Onward

A few weeks ago I was released from Lewisburg FPC. I want to thank the hundreds of people who wrote, sent books, money, magazines, and their support. There are no words to describe my appreciation and affection to all of you. Thank you so much.

Currently I’m home in southern Pennsylvania where Courtney and I have relocated temporarily. We will spend the summer months enjoying the outdoors, good food, family, friends and the small things that I missed while I was away, and at the same time transition back into normal life. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be back home.

I’m excited to move forward onto new projects and looking forward to seeing what everyone has been working on!

Feel free to reach out if you’d like to say hello!

Charlie

Quick note: I am still under the same communication requirements established for my incarceration and cannot grant media interviews at this time.

 

Bitcoin for Prison

Bitcoin for Prison

Bitcoin may have indirectly landed me in prison, but it’s still my passion. An alternative global transaction network would give people more control over their finances, allowing them to send money with greater privacy and without having to trust (or pay) a middleman. It would also reduce the time it takes to move money by days. If we could do that, we would be another step closer to bringing millions of people out of poverty by allowing people in local economies to buy and sell to the rest of the world. I’m obsessed with Bitcoin, and I’m going to prison. So of course I wanted to know if I could continue to use Bitcoin on the inside.

Read the full article on VICE

So, I’m going to prison. Reflections from Bitcoins’ first felon

So, I’m going to prison. Reflections from Bitcoins’ first felon

(Below I’ve details some ways to get in touch while I’m inside, please do not hesitate to do so. I look forward to everything! )

I’ve been dreading writing this blog post, and since I’ve written it, it’s been sitting as draft for a few weeks.

Never the less, it’s time I get on with it.

46044187-best-place-prisons-lewisburg (1)On March 30th, I’ll be self surrendering to Lewisburg Federal Prison Camp in Pennsylvania. It’s been a long hard fight, from getting arrested at JFK airport while landing home, to solitary confinement and being under house arrest the for the past 14 months. When the government indicted me and requested 30 years, I kept my head up with the help of friends, family, and the Bitcoin community. While some distanced themselves, most stood by and fought. I owe my life to those people. Of course I don’t look for sympathy, I did the crime and I will do the time. They say those who stand by you in the bad times, deserve to be with you in the good times. Good times are coming and I look forward to it. I also want to thank those select few in the SDNY District Court and NYSPT for treating me with dignity and respect.

 

18896-1sz9qf2Of course, no year is wasted in Bitcoin and I’ve made the best of house arrest. From consulting for Payza, Decentral.tv and others to piloting Bitcoin payments at Holidy Inn Hotels and other companies. I’ve made many speeches, some over skype and some in person. I even had a ShremBot take my place! I’ve met with dozens of VC’s and offered free advice to hundreds of companies, got to spend time with friends, throw parties and enjoy time with the love of my life. Making the best of house arrest requires some creativity, like hiring a Jazz Duo to serenade us on Valentines Day (bonus points because I even got to pay in Bitcoin)

 

 

Overall I’m content with my relatively short sentence and ready to move on.

Lewisburg Camp seems like a nice place, it offers outstanding recreational facilities including a walking track; a basketball court; softball fields and exercise equipment.

I will have access to limited email, mail and the ability to speak to the outside world while I’m inside. Here are a few ways to get in touch.

While inside, I’d love emails, letters, books, and magazines! Everything helps.

In Liberty,

Charlie Shrem

 

 

Things you can buy with Bitcoin: A jazz duo at your apartment on Valentines Day

Things you can buy with Bitcoin: A jazz duo at your apartment on Valentines Day

Being under house arrest has its advantages and disadvantages. I have a direct line to the DOJ and US Marshals on my right ankle and if I were to be in trouble they’d come running.

2015-01-07 14.15.56

On the other hand, being stuck home on Valentines day can be annoying, so coming up with ideas other than the usual dinner and a movie requires some creativity. Further, I’m always up to the challenge of trying to pay in Bitcoin!

I contacted the folks at Busker.co on Friday to see if they can help. After finding the perfect duo to serenade my girlfriend and I, they asked me to pay via Venmo.

Venmo is instant and free only if you add a bank account. I tried doing this but an error told me there would be a 2-4 day delay for them to verify my account.

No problem, they have a credit card option but when I tried adding mine, the notification said there is a 3% fee for me. Renting a private musical act is not cheap, and 3% added fee is pretty damn high.

I sent them an email and explained that by accepting Bitcoin via Coinbase.com there is no fee and no currency risk if they instantly sell the BTC. I explained that unlike what they read in the press, Bitcoin is 2 things. Bitcoin is a global, instant and free payment system while bitcoin is a unit of value (notice the capitalization differences)

After a few back and forth emails they were set up with Coinbase and emailed me an invoice which I promptly paid. By chance they hadn’t sold their BTC yet and with an overnight price bump they made an extra $20.

2015-02-14 19.45.53

 

Around 7pm a trombone and melodica duo showed up at my FiDi apartment and serenaded with:

– My Girl, The Temptations
– John Legend, All of Me
– Nat King Cole, I Love You For Sentimental Reasons
Thanks again to the folks at Busker.co for making this happen!
-Charlie

 

 

The Race to Replace Bitcoin

The Race to Replace Bitcoin

Fantastic article in the NY Observer this morning:

http://observer.com/2015/02/the-race-to-replace-bitcoin/

The article was written by Michael Craig but I have no doubt partly written by editor in chief Ken Kurson (full disclosure, Ken is a good friend and I personally look up to him)14291476707_0977fd766b_z

There’s an epic battle for the future of money, and the outcome is murky. It might have several winners. It might have no winners. But one thing is crystal clear: The most exciting battle in this long war is taking place in San Francisco, and the town isn’t big enough for both Ripple Labs and Stellar, two of the contenders hoping to replace not just Bitcoin but the almighty dollar.  

 

 

Im quoted in it about 16 times, and am happy to be apart of this story. Here are some snippets:

 

img_1827-charlie-shrem-1Mr. Shrem, a tireless evangelist for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, was the CEO of BitInstant and a founder of the Bitcoin Foundation. He pleaded guilty in September to reduced charges of aiding and abetting the operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business. Again, is that actually a criminal offense? If it is, with the Wild West stuff going on in crypto in the Mission District, the free spirits leading the crypto revolution had better sock away a few billion of their newly minted coins for legal fees before they, too, are making coffee in the toilet.

Mr. Shrem told The New York Times, “They want a guilty plea on their books, and that’s what they’re going to get. They got a Bitcoiner.” In a colossal show of overkill, the government agencies behind taking down this 5-foot-5, 140-pound menace to society included the DEA, NYPD, Homeland Security, New York State Police, IRS, FBI, BATF, U.S. Secret Service, New York National Guard, Office of Foreign Assets Control, and the New York Department of Taxation and Finance. Last month, Mr. Shrem wassentenced to two years for “indirectly helping to send $1 million to Silk Road” and is expected to serve half that time.

 

It’s a long one, but I recommend reading the whole thing!

-Charlie

Charlie Shrem Saga Ends With Two-Year Sentence in New York Court

Charlie Shrem Saga Ends With Two-Year Sentence in New York Court

Former BitInstant CEO and Bitcoin Foundation board member Charlie Shrem was sentenced this afternoon to two years in prison after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting the operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business.

Shrem will also serve three years of supervised release in addition to the prison sentence.

Judge Jed Rakoff, who presided over the case, rejected the defense’s plea for probation only, but stopped short of imposing a harsher sentence based on the charges at hand.

Read the rest here: http://www.coindesk.com/charlie-shrem-sentenced-two-years-prison/

The simple and powerful way of running a Bitcoin node

The simple and powerful way of running a Bitcoin node

How to run a full Bitcoin node on a Virtual Private Server.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 5.32.09 PM

Running a Bitcoin node gives you a the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from helping people download the blockchain faster. Same as seeding torrents provides warm fuzzies. You are supporting the overall Bitcoin network, relaying transactions and allowing people close to your server location to download the blockchain faster.

Once your node is running, submit it to https://getaddr.bitnodes.io/

Note- this was written for Ubuntu, but in step 2.1 I explain how to make this install work in any Linux OS.

I try to make this guide as universal as possible, as I’ve run into a few different forks running nodes on different machines.

This is a good way to learn some basic linux because the install is fairly straightforward and I address most of the problems you could encounter.

 

Instructions

1. First, check what kind of linux distro you are running. There is no universal way to do this, so
cd /etc/
ls
look for a release file like “redhat-release”, ect.
Then
cat /etc/XXX-release
It will return more info about your distro, its just good to know for the rest of the install..

2. Check if you have apt-get installed, this is needed for my install.
Just type
apt-get
If you get a return, then you have it installed go to 3, if not see below.

2.1 If you have Yum, and not apt get, here are 3 ways to install it:
http://hackingtricksmaster.blogspot.com/2013/01/install-apt-in-centos-using-yum.html

3. Next, this is a script that will save us 10 steps adjusting the firewall, ect.
Install this:
wget -O btcNode.sh https://raw.github.com/XertroV/BitcoinAutoNode/master/bitcoinAutoNode.sh ; sudo bash btcNode.sh

What this does is:
Firewall rules; allow 22,8333
Updates Ubuntu
Creates Swap
Creates config
Sets up autostart (cron)
Adds limit to bitcoin connections in order to help control bandwidth; reduce from 40 in step-8 to limit it further.

Everything will install perfect, however Bitcoind may not be in the package,
Check by typing:
bitcoind
If nothing happens, we need to install bitcoind directly in 3.1. If yes, go to 4.

3.1 Install Bitcoind
sudo aptitude install python-software-properties
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bitcoin/bitcoin
sudo aptitude update
sudo aptitude install bitcoind

You can start Bitcoind and see if it works,
bitcoind
It will output “Bitcoin server starting”

4. When you start Bitcoind it will start to download the blockchain. This will take weeks! If you are OK with that, then you are done. If not, below I will show how to download the blockchain via torrent.

Type:
bitcoind stop

5 . Next, we need to download the blockchain. Install transmission-daemon, which is a BitTorrent cliet so we can torrent it instead of waiting for it to download.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:transmissionbt/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install transmission-cli transmission-common transmission-daemon

More info for other distros: www.webupd8.org/2009/12/setting-up-transmission-remote-gui-in.html

In the terminal, type:
transmission-daemon
To see if its work. If it is type:
killall transmission-daemon
The reason is, we are editing the config file and if transmission-daemon is running, it will overwrite our changes.

6. . Next, we need to edit the the config file of transmission to whitelist and setup 9091. This will allow us to go to www.IPADDRESS:9091 to be able to download a torrent

If running Transmission under your own username, the configuration file will be located at ~/.config/transmission-daemon/settings.json.

Most linux distros have Nano or Vi as text editors. So either type:
vi ~/.config/transmission-daemon/settings.json
or
nano ~/.config/transmission-daemon/settings.json

Once you are in the file, look for:
rpc-whitelist “127.0.0.1”

rpc-whitelist is a comma-delimited list of IP addresses that allow us to connect to the web interface from home.
Wildcards allowed using ‘*’. Example: “127.0.0.*,192.168.*.*”, Default: “127.0.0.1” )

Add your home IP to the list, the IP you are using to connect over SSH.
Save the file and exit.
(In Vi to save an exit type “Shift-ZZ”)

More info: https://trac.transmissionbt.com/wiki/EditConfigFiles#Options

7. Login to the webui of transmission by going to www.IPADDRESS:9091 and download the bootstrap.dat file here.
http://sourceforge.net/projects/bitcoin/files/Bitcoin/blockchain/

It will take anywhere from 30min – a few hours depending on your connection.
It will download into a folder called Downloads in your root directory, or user directory.

8. Once its downloaded, move it into the .bitcoin folder by typing:
mv ~/Downloads/bootstrap.dat ~/.bitcoin

turn on bitcoind by typing
bitcoind
It will output “Bitcoin server starting”

Now, it will start verifying the blocks that are in the bootstrap.dat file. Will take a few hours. You check what its up to by typing:
bitcoind getinfo
You will see under “blocks”.
Its finished once the block amount is the same number as the blockheight on blockchain.info

9. This is extra, If you want to be able to see your nodes status from going to the IP, being able to show your friends like this: 199.58.210.124

Download this script
http://pastebin.com/wKytLZmc

Put it anywhere on your server and change the RPCUSER/PASS, NODEADDR and BITCOINADDR.
Run the script to update every time. You can also use it to create a chron job.

Note: You’ll need to install BitcoinRPC for the script to work.
Go here: https://github.com/jgarzik/python-bitcoinrpc
Follow Jeffs simple instructions. Once BitcoinRPC is installed, run the node script again and it will update!

Good luck!

GQ: Sex, Drugs, and Toasters: My Life on Bitcoin

GQ: Sex, Drugs, and Toasters: My Life on Bitcoin

This May, I was featured in GQ Magazine about my life and Bitcoin

You can read the full article here: http://www.gq.com/life/tech/201406/bitcoin

Some excerpts:

I liked Charlie Shrem from the moment we met, with his winning smile and the improbable five-o’clock-next-Tuesday shadow on his chin. There was a nervous, distracted charisma about him. He rarely laughed, but just beneath that serious veneer, he was affable and smart. And distinct from the thousands of words I’d read and heard about Bitcoin, Charlie didn’t drag me through computer code or diagram the cryptographic innovations of the new currency. He didn’t go all A Beautiful Mind on me, because I assured him that I was never gonna comprehend the technical depths of Bitcoin. So, for my benefit, he used big, primary-color analogies, and for the first time, I understood the larger role this new money could have, the niche in the financial market that it had been created to fill. “Bitcoin is two things!” Charlie explained, abruptly raising his voice. “There’s lowercase bitcoin and uppercase Bitcoin. It’s both the currency you send and the means by which you send it. While banks, PayPal, and Western Union are all the things that help move money around the world—the finance system—Bitcoin is both blood and vein. It’s not only the payment system of transfer: It’s also the unit of value being transferred across the system.” He emitted information just like that: in sudden, discrete transmissions, as if signaling from a ship at sea. The entire concept of Bitcoin—the platform upon which Charlie made his millions—had been the brainchild of a programmer (or for all we know, a small group of programmers) using the name Satoshi Nakamoto, who first described the Bitcoin concept on a cryptography mailing list in 2008. It wasn’t fleshed out, but the basics had shimmer. Bitcoin would be a peer-to-peer network, Satoshi wrote, in which payments didn’t have to flow through third-party financial institutions. It was based not on trust but on data, such as time stamps, the kind of hard numbers that even the most anarchic libertarian could bank on.

Lessons from Charlie Shrem: How this indicted bitcoin entrepreneur still makes bank

Lessons from Charlie Shrem: How this indicted bitcoin entrepreneur still makes bank

The UpTake: Even while under-house arrest, this bitcoin founder shows that earning a paycheck comes naturally, if you do what you truly love.

A lmost overnight, bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem lost his freedom and his bitcoin exchange company, BitInstant, when he was arrested on charges of money laundering and operating a money transmitting business without a license. Busted in January and released later that month to house arrest on a $1-million-dollar bail, he tells me in a conversation we had yesterday that he quickly started to go stir-crazy.

But not even the government-owned tracker wrapped around his ankle—a device that he has to charge every night, one which I wasn’t allowed to photograph—could keep him out of bitcoin for long. What Shrem ended up doing to keep his sanity—and is still doing, now that he’s allowed to leave his home on a limited basis—is a lesson to any entrepreneur on how to get paid doing what you love, no matter what.

“I told people, I have this ADHD thing where I have to be multi-tasking like five things at the same time, so use my brain for whatever you want,” he told me yesterday at the Magineses Townhouse in Greenwich village, an unmarked building that’s the clubhouse for members of a new exclusive credit card in New York City used by some entrepreneurs. “I’m just trying to help as many people as I can, for bitcoin.”

The 24-year-old founder, who is accused of running an unlicensed money transmitting company and assisting with laundering $1 million in funds that were used on the now-infamous Silk Road black market, provides a marked contrast to a common philosophy in the startup community: you’re only as good as what you charge.

Shrem, who described himself to me as “psychologically unemployable” because he prefers to be his own boss, said that during the first two months of house-arrest he told anyone who would listen that money wasn’t a priority, he just wanted to work, for free at first if necessary.

Read the rest here: http://upstart.bizjournals.com/entrepreneurs/hot-shots/2014/07/09/bitcoin-lessons-from-bitinstant-charlie-shrem.html

Upcoming Speech: Digital Currencies NYC 2014: Bitcoin Pitfalls – And How To Avoid Them

Upcoming Speech: Digital Currencies NYC 2014: Bitcoin Pitfalls – And How To Avoid Them

Charlie Shrem, a consultant to Payza and one of the Bitcoin community’s earliest adopters, will reflect on mistakes he’s made and lessons he’s learned – the hard way – about regulation, compliance, and banking relationships for startups. Aspiring innovators will want to heed his advice; bankers and regulators may find his perspective informative as part of a wide range of topics and discussions at this jam-packed conference.

http://www.americanbanker.com/conferences/1_55/bitcoin-pitfalls-and-how-to-avoid-them-1068385-1.html