After an introduction to cryptocurrency a few months ago, I was feeling pretty confident about my baseline understanding of it. And then I read the stories of QuadrigaCX, and my head exploded. I've tried to delve in and understand it a little bit more because it seems like the most fascinating of stories. My technical understanding of it's cloudy (at best), but I latched onto the sensational details. It's definitely a conspiracy that I can get behind, and for whoever decides to write the story, I'll pre-order the book. Here are the juicy details:
QuadrigaCX is (was) a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange. In December, their CEO, Gerald Cotten, died suddenly at the age of 30. Following his death, the company was unable to access around $190 million in investors' money. The money was allegedly locked in cold wallets that only Cotten knew how to access. Cold wallets get confusing for me, but basically seem to be a way to store cryptocurrency in a location that's not connected to the internet so that it can't be hacked.
Following Cotten's death, the Ontario Securities Commission initiated an investigation. Ernst and Young was appointed to serve as monitor for early creditor protection, and the company has now filed for bankruptcy. Here are the novel-inspiring pieces of the story:
As the investigation continues, many speculate that the money was never there in the first place, but instead he was simply using other customer's money to pay withdrawals et al (Fyre Festival anyone?). Others that have looked into the blockchain say that the amounts of bitcoin QuadrigaCX reported didn't match what the blockchain said. Other conspiracy hunters say that there's evidence of outgoing transactions from the mysterious cold wallets since his death.
I don't understand all of the technical pieces, I certainly have no idea if there's any credibility to the conspiracy theories surrounding Cotten's death, but I'm fascinated by the story. It fuels many of the fears that I had after learning about cryptocurrency last year. It's hard to feel comfortable with an investment so mysterious, and while this seems like a worst-case scenario, it drives home the angst that many of us feel. Plus, conspiracy lover or not, it's hard to not feel like something pretty nefarious was going on with at least some portion of QuadrigaCX. I look forward to reading the novel and watching the movie!