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Robertson was also not her birth name; she had gone from her given name, Griffith, to Forgeron and then back, following an earlier marriage and its dissolution, before finally landing on Robertson in The major break in the investigation was not a revelation, exactly, but something that had been hiding in plain sight. As it turned out, Michael Patryn—as Michael Perklin and nearly everyone in the close-knit Canadian cryptocurrency community had known for years—was not really Michael Patryn.
Which meant that Cotten was not really who he said he was either. The chat group Quadriga Uncovered has nearly members, many of them creditors who use the forum to discuss details of the claims process and share revelations and theories about the case. The chat is also frequented by journalists, detectives from the FBI and RCMP, and several of the targets of the ongoing criminal investigations, including Patryn, whose exact whereabouts have been unknown for about a year.
In his comments—both in the group chat and in a private chat—he has minimized his involvement in Quadriga and declines to speak in detail about his past. But it was his past that, early on, became the focus of the Quadriga investigation. Patryn made people uncomfortable.
He had seemed to appear in Vancouver out of thin air. They were excited. They usually did the outreaching; nobody had reached out to them before. Patryn came to the next meeting. Hi, he said. Or Michael from Italy. But it came from a place of organization—he knew what he was doing. Patryn was described as ostentatiously secretive—a trait not uncommon in cryptocurrency circles—and made vague allusions to a shadowy past and underworld connections.
He was sturdy and muscular, with blackwork tattoos and a face that in repose seemed to glower. On Facebook he posed with a tiger, a lion, behind the wheel of a Lamborghini, straddling an ATV in a desert. Friends say he spoke of an emotionally absent father, manipulative family members, his obsessive-compulsive tendencies. He saw himself as an enforcer—of rules, of integrity, of loyalty. He seemed lonely. When Patryn told a stupid joke that nobody found funny, Cotten would burst into wild laughter.
They were an odd pair. They traced the relationship back to , to a dingy warren of a website called TalkGold. Gerald Cotten may have had a sophisticated grasp of cryptocurrency, but his expertise—his formal training—lay in the art of the confidence game. TalkGold was a Ponzi clearinghouse, where blind faith and curdled cynicism engaged in a demonic rumba. TalkGold was run by twins Edward and Brian Krassenstein until , when agents from the Office of Homeland Security seized their files and froze their assets but never charged them with a crime.
Subsequently the brothers would gain Twitter notoriety for their incessant attacks on Donald Trump before they were shut down for operating fake accounts and purchasing followers. Patryn joined TalkGold on April 3, , the year the site launched. In one of his first posts he boasted of earning 30 percent monthly returns in HYIP investments. Cotten opened his account three months later, shortly after his 15th birthday.
Cotten tried to scam Patryn; Patryn tried to counter-scam Cotten. Cotten was a quick study. We do not invest in stocks, bonds, shares, precious metals or antiques. All I will say is that we will generate your return and that we are not what is called a ponzi or pyramid scheme.
In isolation this might be written off as teenage hijinks—or at most light fraud. Patryn, though six years older than Cotten, was only Both men soon graduated, however. In October , TalkGold members began to debate whether Patryn might in fact be Omar Dhanani, one of 28 suspects who had been arrested by the U.
Secret Service in a global sting operation targeting an online marketplace for stolen credit card information and forged documents. Upon pleading guilty to conspiring to transfer stolen identification documents, he was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. After his release in , he was deported to Canada. In a gambit of either flagrant carelessness or irrepressible egotism, Dhanani officially changed his name to the pseudonym he had used in his online criminal ventures, first to Omar Patryn and later to Michael Patryn.
The most successful of these was Midas Gold, incorporated in early It served as an independent payment processor for Liberty Reserve: a digital currency that was operated by an American in Costa Rica and used by drug cartels, human traffickers, child pornographers, and Ponzis to launder money. Midas Gold was an intermediary between Liberty Reserve and its traders, transferring cash into digital currency and back again, ensuring that no centralized record of clients existed.
In its registration documents, Midas Gold listed as its contact gerald. Midas Gold, which had begun to accept Bitcoin, was seized too. By that point, however, a new Gerald Cotten venture was already six months old. The Quadriga Fund was an HYIP that claimed to invest in venture capital projects and foreign currency exchange markets; it could be funded with Liberty Reserve and Bitcoin, using payment processors operated by Patryn.
A quadriga is a chariot yoked to four horses abreast. Quadriga Fund claimed to be operated by four unnamed investment managers. In October , Cotten placed a job posting on an online forum, BlackHatWorld, that marketed frauds and stolen goods. If Quadriga was conceived as a scam, what kind of scam was it? Most HYIPs, including those previously operated by Cotten, were exit scams: Ponzis that, after reaching a critical volume, abruptly close up shop. In some exits, the operator simply vanishes with the funds.
More commonly, however, he will blame external forces a meddlesome bank that freezes its accounts , provide fragmentary refunds, and equivocate until its investors give up hope. The delay tactic is more successful than might be expected, since customers of HYIPs understand, on some fundamental level, that promises of outsized returns are too good to be true; besides, there was always another outrageous bargain a few clicks away.
The same blind faith that attracts the marks also drives them away. Some of the early visitors to the Vancouver Quadriga office even thought the exchange was just a show. Was Quadriga built to last, in other words, or built to self-destruct? It was not built, in its early days, to make money. Perhaps—this scenario goes—Cotten believed that the cryptocurrency bull market would continue indefinitely, leading to higher trading volumes and profits; Cotten would have forced Patryn out, knowing that with intensified public scrutiny, his past would become a liability.
This would have been a startling about-face; in the early days, those who knew them believed that the company belonged to Patryn, with Cotten serving as a front man. Gerald had a clean record, he could speak to the masses, while Michael operated the back end. Gerry and Alex [Hanin, a web developer] created and ran Quadriga, with Gerry running operations.
After hearing that Patryn had been bragging all over Vancouver about his talent for laundering money, Mueller unearthed the connection to Dhanani. Nobody followed up with him. He figured that Dhanani had friends in the underworld and in federal law enforcement.
Among those Mueller warned was Amber Scott, an anti-money-laundering expert at a compliance firm in Toronto called Outlier Solutions. She told clients and friends to avoid Quadriga. But when she met Cotten at the Toronto Bitcoin hub Decentral, she found him funny and sweet. She believed in him. She decided that his involvement might mean that Quadriga was legitimate after all. She appeared with him, and even introduced him, at conferences.
There was also the fact that these were Canadian people, Canadian companies. She froze and said something about having to shampoo her cats. Cotten flushed. He never mentioned Patryn in her presence again. The little brother under the thumb finally grew some balls. That was our perception, at least. In the fall of , Bitcoin began its wild rise. But it was too much too fast: The young, inexperienced cryptocurrency purist was overwhelmed, beset by coding errors, scrutiny from banks, incompetent contractors, and crooked payment processors.
He had to resort to increasingly questionable practices in a desperate effort to salvage his dream. If you blur your eyes, this narrative—Gerry Tries to Make Good—nearly coheres. Far more likely is the narrative of Gerry the Royal Fuckup. In this version of the story, scams beget scams and incompetence snowballs into recklessness and squander. The public bid was a last-ditch effort to salvage a flailing Ponzi, exploiting positive press and public sympathy to bilk money from investors.
He also created dozens of false trading accounts to stimulate trading volume on the platform—a fact he even disclosed in the filings. He neglected to disclose, however, that he filled those fake accounts with invented funds, trading counterfeit Bitcoin for real Bitcoin and Canadian and American dollars.
When he did file, he claimed no income from Quadriga. Cotten provided withdrawals manually, seeming to give preference to the customers who complained loudest in public forums. He sent cash, in paper bags and shoeboxes, to coffee shops, laundromats, and pool halls. He also accepted cash deposits.
A year before his death he sent a colleague a photograph taken in the kitchen of his Kelowna home. On the polished granite island are a vase of pink roses, the discarded lid of an ice cream carton, a copy of National Geographic, and dozens of dictionary-thick, rubber-banded stacks of Canadian currency in crisp 20s, 50s, and s.
Still Cotten was not directly responsible for all of his troubles. Because Canadian banks refused to accept cryptocurrency businesses as clients, Quadriga had to rely on third-party processors, which levied outrageous fees and in some cases stole funds outright. Patryn, Jennifer Robertson, and at least a couple of other Quadriga contractors each operated their own payment processing firms—a significant conflict of interest, though not illegal.
Cotten, it turned out, had transferred the funds into personal accounts on competitor exchanges. At least some of those accounts had also been emptied. On one particular margin account, he conducted 67, individual trades alone, placing enormous bets on fledgling currencies like Dogecoin, OmiseGO, and Zcash. In Cotten spoke publicly of moving currencies between exchanges to take advantage of arbitrage opportunities. It was the behavior of a doomed gambler employing the martingale strategy, successively doubling down in a desperate effort to get back to zero, until he had dug a hole so deep that he could only be buried inside it.
Then he flew to India, where things managed to get even worse. Call it the Mastermind Theory. It begins with a few findings that do not fit neatly into the Royal Fuckup narrative. Cotten had mentioned having a safe bolted to the rafters in the attic of his home in which he had stored the passwords to his various cryptocurrency accounts. After learning of his death, one of his contractors immediately went to the house and searched for it.
He found the place in the attic where four holes had been drilled through the rafters. But the safe was gone. There were rumors of other employees taking similar trips. Ver renounced his United States citizenship in after he became a citizen of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Embassy in Barbados, which claimed that he had not sufficiently proven ties outside of the United States that would motivate him to leave at the end of his visit, causing fears he might become an illegal immigrant.
According to an interview he gave in , Ver describes Brazilian jiu-jitsu as one of his major passions in life. Ver can be seen in videos competing in BJJ world championships  and has achieved the rank of brown belt. In he was ranked number 36 in Fortune's The Ledger 40 under 40  for transforming business at the leading edge of finance and technology. In , Ver pleaded guilty to selling explosives without a license, illegally storing explosives, and mailing the explosives.
Ver bought 49 pounds of "Pest Control Report " explosives, sold at least 14 pounds of them as large firecrackers on eBay , stored the explosives in a residential apartment building, and mailed them to customers via the U.
Postal Service. He was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison. Ver began investing in bitcoin in early In , Ver was organizing bitcoin meetups in Sunnyvale. He is one of the main proponents of a larger block size. He supported the development of Bitcoin XT as a hard fork method towards an increase. Ver and his high school friend Jesse Powell attempted to re-establish the Mt Gox exchange during the June bitcoin price crash.
Ver served as CEO of Bitcoin. Planet Money. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Roger Ver. San Jose , California , U. United States — Saint Kitts and Nevis —present. Retrieved 25 December The New York Times. Retrieved 28 July Archived from the original on 13 February Retrieved 3 August Telegraph UK. Miami New Times blog. Kitts last year".
Ars Technica. Federal Register. Retrieved 23 July Bjj Eastern Europe. Retrieved 2 October Wired Media Group. Retrieved 28 December League of Women Voters.
This is good news for Saddington. But in other parts of the world, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are being banned. Indonesia , India and Vietnam , to name a few, have taken a strong stand against the currency. News Technology. Support our Journalism with a Contribution Many people might not know this, but despite our large and loyal following which we are immensely grateful for, NextShark is still a small bootstrapped startup that runs on no outside funding or loans.
Everything you see today is built on the backs of warriors who have sacrificed opportunities to help give Asians all over the world a bigger voice. However, we still face many trials and tribulations in our industry, from figuring out the most sustainable business model for independent media companies to facing the current COVID pandemic decimating advertising revenues across the board.
We hope you consider making a contribution so we can continue to provide you with quality content that informs, educates and inspires the Asian community. Support NextShark. Share Tweet 0. Pin it 0. Related Posts. Yale grad student Kevin Jiang may have been targeted for death instead of being killed in a random…. And indeed, there are many more options for spending your bitcoin online.
Some large companies have gone all-in on blockchain, so they are set up for bitcoin purchases on their sites. Other places have tinkered with the idea, dipping their toes in the bitcoin waters to see if it can give them a larger base of consumers. Even as bitcoin has become more about long-term investing, it has still become far easier than it used to be for bitcoin owners to purchase goods online, with some sites developed specifically to accommodate bitcoin.
There's one site that's entirely devoted to getting you pizza with bitcoin! Popular gift card sites like Gyft and eGifter now offers the option to create and pay for gift cards using bitcoins. Whether purchasing something or using bitcoin to add funds to an online account, the process is fairly similar across the board for using it. Click "Pay with bitcoin," give the site your wallet information often a QR code, especially if you're doing this on mobile , confirm your information, and place the order.
This can be done through companies like ShapeShift, which allow for digital cryptocurrency trading. Some desktop sites may also provide the wallet address for you to send bitcoins to. Intuit has also developed a system called PayByCoin to help more businesses accept bitcoin payments. Try to make that order in a timely fashion, though; due to the severe volatility of bitcoin, some bitcoin merchants will only give you a minute window to complete your purchase.
After that, the price may update based on the new exchange rate. Do the proper research on whether a company is currently allowing for bitcoin use, as some may have integrated it at one point but may not be using it at the moment. Steam, Valve's video game distributing platform, stopped allowing bitcoin payments in December , citing the volatility but admitting they may come back to it. Dell claimed it was a lack of interest that led it to stop accepting bitcoin in November But there are plenty of other places that continue to allow you to pay with bitcoins.
What can you buy with bitcoin online? Depending on the retailer you choose, quite a bit. Electronics retailer Newegg has also been a big proponent of bitcoin. Computers, televisions, gaming consoles and more can be purchased with bitcoins on Newegg, with separate methods of payment depending on whether you are on mobile or desktop.
Microsoft users now have the option to add bitcoins from their wallet into their Microsoft account, but also make sure you know that when you redeem bitcoin for your account, it's only available to use in the Windows Store and Xbox Store. Other companies are acting similarly to Microsoft by dipping their toes in the bitcoin waters, and only allowing it for certain payments.
Expedia EXPE - Get Report is known for helping book hotels, flights, cruises and vacation rentals, but currently bitcoin payments are reserved for booking hotels. Should the bitcoin experiment succeed for Expedia, could expanding it for flights and cruises be next? In the market for satellite television and want to pay your bill in bitcoin? Turns out this specific dream of yours can be a reality: Dish Network DISH - Get Report was an early adopter of bitcoin amongst larger companies, deciding to allow for transactions with the cryptocurrency back in Bitcoin can also be used in some cases to make donations.
Want to donate to Wikipedia? You can do it anytime and they connect with Coinbase to allow for bitcoin transfers. There are many other websites that currently allow for bitcoin too, including but not limited to:. Bitcoin still hasn't hit a point yet where it's a common method of payment at your average retail outlet.
But whether as a novelty or because the owners truly believe it's the wave of the future, there are some places out there that you can physically go to and pay with bitcoin. Despite not being widespread, there are several different ways for stores to accept bitcoin if you're wondering how to spend it - or if you're a business interested in integrating it.
With computer software and mobile apps that allow for scanning of QR codes and wallet keys, initiating payments is far quicker than it used to be - even if transaction times on the blockchain can be a bit slow. If you're just out for a walk and want to look for a local bitcoin purchase, look closely; some places that accept it may have a sign in the window that say "bitcoin accepted here! Not sure if anything near you lets you pay with bitcoin?
There are sites that try to keep a running archive of places that take it and let you search on a virtual map.