Posted on 26 Comments

The TSA “saw” my Bitcoin and wanted to count it

TokensIt seems like every NH Liberty Forum I have a post about my interaction with the TSA while flying home. In 2012 I was even declared Rebel of the Week by Wesley Messamore from the Silver Underground for my cool but assertive approach. But this year has proven to be the most frightening, as well as the most cautionary for the Bitcoin community.  

I was majorly harassed by the TSA after opting out with Bill Buppert from, even after I’d already been cleared by security. I was given the standard blue glove pat down, so was Bill, and then a second agent searched my bag because all my lapel pins looked suspicious in the x-ray machine. I sold metallic lapel pins from at the conference. She unpacked my bag and ran all my lapel pins separately. That was the first indication of something strange. 

After she cleared me and I was free to leave I was approached and questioned by two supervisors in dress shirts and ties because they said they “saw” Bitcoin in my bag. This is, of course, absurd. They asked me about international travel. They asked to search my bag again. They evaded my questions, and ultimately threatened to arrest me when I said, “Do you have a superior officer, because I don’t think you know what you’re talking about.”

The issue was about international travel carrying over $10,000. I think what happened is that they saw my Bitcoin Not Bombs hoodie, then all the metal lapel pins, and they thought they hit the jackpot on a stockpile of Casascius coins. For the record I was sold out of Bitcoin pins, and out of Bitcoin flyers. The only Bitcoin logos on my person were my Bitcoin Not Bombs hoodie and a logo that I drew on a plastic case in my bag.

As soon as they discovered I was not traveling internationally they disappeared as quickly as they appeared.

It was scary. I was shaking. Immediately afterward I made a voice recording with Bill to record all the facts as we observed them while the experience was fresh.

While making that recording one of the supervisors walked through the terminal appearing to be looking for me, then a blue shirt agent was stationed out of the screening area and within eye sight of me, and two police officers wearing flak vests and side arms hung around near my gate until I left. Which is purely an intimidation tactic. 

What’s clear from this encounter is that the TSA is looking for Bitcoin, and targeting those with visible Bitcoin logos. This is bad for everyone, and I’m mainly sharing those so other Bitcoin users know to be careful out there. 

26 thoughts on “The TSA “saw” my Bitcoin and wanted to count it

  1. What an amazing encounter. Thank you for documenting this, Davi. Although it must have been scary in the moment, it’s kind of laugh-out-loud-funny to me that the agent saw your hoodie and thought to himself, “Ah, ha! Today’s your day, Joe! You are going to impress everyone with this find. This loser thinks he can just pass right through undetected, but I know better. I recognize those bitcons I’ve been hearing about. The dude is wearing a picture of the things falling from a plane. Not on my watch, buddy. ‘Step aside, Mr Barker. I’m gonna need to have a look inside your bag.’ Hehe, got him!”

    1. If he just moved to New Hampshire, he’d never have to worry about flying again. I kid. Good work Derrick!

    2. Ill throw up 256 Rijndael encryption on microsd wax it up and swallow it. The TSA better try and gut me for my coinz

      1. Rijndael encryption is not secure, and that is according to it’s founder and Snowden. But I like the effort 😀

  2. I am sure you had a bad attitude though. I would go through TSA like a bro. They would probably buy me a drink for the trouble.

    Learn how to buy Bitcoin and Altcoins at

    1. Why are you sure I had a bad attitude? I frequently blog my encounters with the TSA and people often comment how good an attitude I have. That was why Wes made me Rebel of the Week for Silver Underground in 2012, because my attitude was not bombastic, and as a result quite effective. In fact, my encounter with the pat-down guy in this encounter was very positive.

    2. spam…

  3. No wonder they have to resort to intimidation tactics, without them the near complete lack of understanding would show them for the fools they are.

  4. Soon, bitcoin owners may be forced to flight only with private planes, courtesy of Virgin Airlines…

    1. I would have no problem flying only private planes!! haha

  5. please upload the audio to soundcloud. I’m getting an error that it’s been downloaded too many times from google drive.

  6. The salient point here is that as long as you’re not carrying a bunch of Bitcoin paraphernalia you can very easily travel with it.

    I keep all mine in my brain most of the time. All the X-ray scans in the world aren’t going to detect that.

  7. Bitcoin never can leave the blockchain… there is no way to put them in your bag:-)

  8. No, Simon, you would go through TSA like a slave, kissing your prison-guards’ behind all the way, validating their misappropriated power, and encouraging their abuse. Thanks, Simon. You’re a real man.

  9. Thanks for attending the Free State Project’s 2014 Liberty Forum in Nashua, New Hampshire. Are you going to be at the Porcupine Freedom Festival in June?

  10. Too many people are trying to download your file from google drive and I got an error message.

    Upload the voice recording somewhere else!

  11. […] you have not yet, you need to read Davi Barker’s most recent post to Bitcoin Not Bombs which details his fiasco with the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) at the airport on his […]

  12. You may wish to consult with an attorney. The TSA has been warned many times that they are *not* CBP and have no authority to question people for bringing cash through the checkpoints. They insist on doing so anyway. IMO, your civil rights were violated because you were seized (even if for mere seconds) in furtherance of an objective that is outside the boundaries of a TSA checkpoint search.

  13. If you’re going to be a pain in the TSA’s ass, you should expect them to be a pain right back. And you shouldn’t be a whiny, pansy-assed faggot whose voice quavers because somebody asked you if your pins were bit coins.

    Seriously… you’re pathetic.

    1. Are you flirting with me?

  14. You wore a shirt about bombs and money laundering in front of people whose job it is to intercept both, and you’re shocked that they singled you out for special attention?

    1. So…how is a Bitcoin *Not* Bombs shirt in any way related to bombs or money laundering? I get the feeling you have no idea what you are talking about.

  15. I am just amazed at some of the comments I see on these articles .
    My consternation is some with TSA but really ignited by these sheep minded establishment freaks that can apparently vote too ? The label ” Something to gain Tory ” comes to mind . I would fund your travel and grubstake if I could afford it to a country that would appreciate your cattle like attitude . What a disappointment .

  16. Not a good experience for sure, let’s hope this was an aberration and not the norm…I think eventually the public will start to be better informed and these issues will pop up less and less.

  17. […] fueled great time on RADIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Davi Barker talks about zombies and how “The TSA ‘saw’ his Bitcoin and wanted to count it.” Then the Feens take a call about AA, and talk about recovery without […]

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