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The cracks started to show earlier this month when Mt. Gox suspended withdrawals claiming there was a serious flaw with how the Bitcoin protocol verifies transactions. Gox pointed out it was possible to essentially re-spend a Bitcoin by renaming the transaction before it was synced to the block chain meaning, after it was verified. The Bitcoin Foundation quickly contradicted Mt. Gox, pointing out that Bitcoin was not at fault.
The Bitcoin Foundation blamed Mt. This may have been the thread that, when pulled, caused Mt. Gox to unravel. Basically, Mt. The stolen coins were gradually siphoned off from the Mt. Gox hot wallet — the coins being used to process transactions. However, Mt. Gox should have had most of its funds in cold storage where they were safe from the transaction malleability attack.
The leaked document claims cold storage was also wiped out, which would mean Mt. Gox was somehow foolishly automatically moving coins into the hot wallet as needed. Gox provides an update, but it makes the situation sound quite bad. All we can say for sure is that MtGox has suspended operations, and users of the site are skeptical they will ever see their Bitcoins again. This is another opportunity to decry the volatility and danger of an unregulated virtual currency — there is no one to come to the rescue when it collapses like this.
It was difficult to imagine that this particular trait was contrived, but later, after it was revealed that nearly everything about him was a work of pure contrivance, you had to wonder whether the incessant smiling was just another part of the act. He summoned a future in which the customer was already a proud captain astride a luxury pleasure vessel dividing a turquoise sea.
That would require an extra fuel tank, the salesman explained, and a desalination system for drinking water. They settled on a customized Jeanneau 51 with a pink and cream interior: three cabins, a dining area for six, a dishwasher, a gas stove, a washer and dryer, an en suite bathroom with standing shower, and a swim platform with teak battens. He named his boat the Gulliver, after the traveler who trusted himself to the mercy of the waves and swam as fortune directed him. Over several dozen hours of sailing lessons, the yacht dealer learned a few things about his customer.
His name was Gerald Cotten, and he went by Gerry; his girlfriend was a property manager named Jennifer Robertson, or Jen; her two Chihuahuas, who liked to sun themselves on the deck as the Gulliver negotiated the islands and shoals of Mahone Bay, were Nitro and Gully. One of those bay islands—four acres of pine encircled by black sand—Cotten purchased that summer. He cleared trees and built a house, though he had no apparent plans to move in.
The couple traveled abroad constantly, and they planned to sponsor a home for 12 children at an orphanage in India. In India, Cotten remarked, the Canadian dollar went a long way. Cotten rarely brought up his work, but details emerged. He ran the business from his MacBook Pro, which he always carried with him. Once he left it behind on the Gulliver, which caused a momentary hysteria as the yacht had already departed the dock. He loved to fly: planes, helicopters, drones.
He seemed like the kind of guy who might retire early to an island somewhere. It looked hollow. Cotten returned for lessons the following summer, though not as often. He was busy. Then, in December, Robertson called Sunnybrook to explain that Gerry, while on their honeymoon in Jaipur, had died suddenly. She wanted to sell the Gulliver. Nobody knew how to find the money. The yacht salesman had questions, though it was not his job to ask questions. More than 75, Quadriga account holders also had questions.
Additional investigations were begun by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; the FBI; and at least two other law enforcement agencies that have not been publicly disclosed though one of them is likely a federal agency in Japan. The most effective and thorough investigation to date, however, has been conducted by anonymous accounts posting on Twitter, Reddit, Pastebin, and Telegram. Their findings, though baroquely technical, could be distilled to a two-word conclusion:.
Cotten was a computer nerd who had entered the right business at the right time and succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. The broad outlines of his story were blandly conventional, at least if you subtracted his interest in decentralized monetary systems. His parents owned an antiques store; Cotten decided to go into crypto. A couple of years after graduation, Cotten moved to Vancouver and joined a clubby community of entrepreneurs who had become enamored with Bitcoin.
He attended meetups at coffee shops and dorm rooms, organized by a core group of about 10 people, who called themselves the Vancouver Bitcoin Co-op. Bitcoin would enable more than two billion people who lacked access to banks to send and receive payment; it would offer stability to citizens of countries with chaotic currencies; it would eliminate all banking fees. With that, Bitcoin became like any other form of currency, a mass delusion: Its value derived from the belief that it had value.
But it was not easy to buy or sell if you lacked technological sophistication and considerable patience. Seventy percent of the global Bitcoin trade was conducted through Mt. Gox, a Tokyo-based exchange, and had to be funded by sending a bank wire to Japan.
Because Canadian banks wanted nothing to do with Bitcoin, users had to transfer funds through a series of intermediaries, bleeding transaction fees. It was just such a challenge. In November Cotten and an older business partner, Michael Patryn, an authority on currency trading with passions for Brazilian jujitsu and luxury automobiles, incorporated the Quadriga coin exchange, or QuadrigaCX named, for reasons that were not immediately clear, after the horse-drawn chariots of the Roman Empire.
In a small, inefficient market, Quadriga swiftly distinguished itself. Quadriga installed a Bitcoin ATM in its office, the second of its kind in Canada, and accepted gold by the ounce, which could be dropped off in person. Often Quadriga was the only Bitcoin company willing to pay for a sponsorship.
It put us in a particular place of need. He seemed to prefer acquaintances over friends. In January Salkeld posted a video on YouTube in which Cotten gently teaches his young daughters how to operate the Bitcoin ATM; Salkeld is certain that his two-year-old is the youngest person ever to have purchased Bitcoin. Cotten said he had a helicopter license and offered to take Salkeld on a ride. But he never did. In February , six weeks after Quadriga launched, Mt.
The following year it launched a bid to be listed on the Canadian stock exchange, submitting to a full financial audit. The exchange took a cut of every transaction. Still, the eulogies had a prismatic quality; viewed from an angle they suggested darker possibilities.
He used to crack jokes all the time. Unsolved crimes attract amateur detectives, who canvass the internet for clues. Law enforcement has the edge in nearly every other category: crime labs, informants, surveillance technology, forensic databases, the threat of arrest. When it came to the case of the missing Quadriga millions, however, the balance was reversed. About 76, individuals held accounts on Quadriga, and some of the most technically sophisticated of them were out hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
But just about every cryptocurrency expert in Canada had a Quadriga account. They had believed in Cotten and felt betrayed. They wanted answers. They wanted revenge. Traditional law enforcement, meanwhile, had only the vaguest understanding of the subject. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police asked questions so rudimentary that they shocked the experts they interviewed. For months, Miller Thomson, the Bay Street law firm appointed to represent the class of creditors, received hundreds of emails a day inquiring about the lost funds, and answered such a constant barrage of phone calls—heartbreakers about lost pensions and college savings, babies crying in the background—that its lawyers could do little else.
Bitcoin was founded on the principle that no individual or institution should be trusted. Every Bitcoin transaction appears in a public ledger—the blockchain—that can be consulted by anybody with internet access. He was driven to a private hospital and diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis. The following afternoon his condition deteriorated and blood tests indicated septic shock. Before doctors could stabilize him, his heart stopped; he was revived, and his heart stopped again.
Barely more than 24 hours after the onset of a stomachache, he was pronounced dead. No autopsy was requested. Confusion compounded confusion. The body was returned to the Oberoi and then sent out again to be embalmed; the embalmer refused to accept a body from a hotel, so Oberoi employees took it to a local medical college, where a staffer performed the procedure.
The following afternoon Robertson returned with the body to Canada. She left behind a dozen teddy bears they had planned to deliver to the Jennifer Robertson and Gerald Cotten Home for Orphaned Children. During that time Quadriga continued to accept new funds but returned none.
It was also revealed that Cotten had written his will just four days before leaving for India. This was the detail that most shocked cryptocurrency professionals. If you lose the keys to your house, you can call a locksmith; if you forget the password to your savings account, your bank will provide a new one. If you lose the private key to your cryptocurrency wallet—a long, randomly generated password, all but impossible to memorize—your funds are gone forever.
The cautionary tales of fortunes lost because of misplaced private keys have the quality, in Bitcoin mythology, of the homilies delivered at religious gatherings. He befriended Cotten in in Toronto, where Cotten had moved during the effort to take Quadriga public. Cotten himself warned of this danger during a interview. Some of the earliest findings by the Reddit sleuths were more prurient than incriminating.
All of it looked bad, but there was no confession of criminality. 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.
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So people noticed him before the flight. GG: Absolutely, and that's one of the things that you find in the DB Cooper case is there's the myth of the Cooper case, and the facts of the Cooper case. One of the things that I was able to stumble on after getting access to these original FBI case files was the actual s, the actual reports of passengers. They immediately noticed him, or some of them, in Portland before the plane even started.
AS: Florence Schaffner, she gets the note. She opens it, she tells the pilots what's going on. Can you tell me a little bit about what is happening with the other passengers onboard? What is the mood on the plane? Are they aware of what's going on? Is it a general, almost like a hold up, everyone is aware that it's a hostage situation?
Or, is it more contained than that? GG: Yeah. You know, the mood on the plane was, "What's going on here? We have no idea. Why are we circling for three hours? I just want to get home and to my family. It was incredible that nobody really picked up on it until well after. It was incredible, and maybe for a good reason, that there was really no panic.
GG: At this time, nobody was really aware that there was a guy maybe with a bomb in the back threatening to not only blow the plane up, but ransom on the passengers, and jump out with parachutes. GG: You have to ask Cooper why he chose this specific flight, but the general consensus is that it was a Boeing , which had aft stairs, stairs in the back, that you could actually release during flight and jump out of folks did in Vietnam with the same plane.
AS: That leads me to another question of, he must be keenly aware of how planes work. It's clear that he has background in planes. That must narrow the search pretty dramatically, right? GG: No. Cooper displayed knowledge of aircraft and knowledge of parachutes, but unfortunately you think that that would narrow down the search, but to what degree did he have the knowledge? Was he a licensed pilot? Was he a manager? It's still unclear. Was he a professional parachutist, or was he in the Special Forces or the military?
There's some clues but the clues were not specific enough to really get a specific kind of profile. AS: Is there a chance that he died from the jump, that he maybe didn't make it? I mean, it seems unlikely only because they would have recovered a body, but is there any possibility of that? I'm not sure if he knew the weather conditions or what was going on that night, if you've dug that research up.
So this is the fundamental question in the Cooper case is, did he make it, or did he even survive the jump, or is he hanging from a tree in the Great Pacific Northwest? There's two schools of thought. People who follow this case, there's one camp or the other.
I'm of the opinion that the drop zone of the flight was actually not quite in a forested area, but it was farther south in wine country, the Livermore Valley and that Cooper could have likely survived the jump. Furthermore, experts say that if he did do the jump with the parachute that he had, at the very least he could have broken a leg.
It was not quite as perilous of a jump as we all imagine. AS: After circling the air for hours, Cooper jumped from the plane and escaped. The time and location of when he jumped couldn't be confirmed by anyone onboard, making his landing zone almost impossible to pinpoint. As Geoff said, the fundamental question at the base of this whole story is, did he survive that jump? If he died upon landing or if he got caught in a tree, wouldn't somebody have found a trace of that by now?
All signs pointed to the idea that he did in fact survive that night, and even more so that he continued living and hiding for the next few decades. I had to ask Geoff the obvious question. Who do you think did it? Who do you think is DB Cooper? Well, I think he's somebody who was super troubled. I don't think that he was a heroic cowboy or a counterculture figure. I think that he was somebody suffering from severe paranoid schizophrenia or depression.
I think that anyone who hijacks a plane, it's an act of both murder, an act of suicide, there's so much going on there that the stable don't really do it, and don't really always do it for money too. There's this hidden motivation. So, I'm looking for somebody that fits that category. Somebody who is ready to just check out of life, and it's more of a tragic hero. He's someone who put lives at risk.
He's a criminal. He's a dangerous person, but I put him more in the tragic psychological depressive loner state. AS: Was Cooper mentally unwell? Was he depressed? It's an extremely plausible assumption that Geoff made about Cooper. I mean, what does it take for somebody to commit a crime like this? I have to admit, I get caught up in the cinematic sides to this story pretty often myself. It's way easier for me to frame Cooper in a brave or valiant light, but this was a crime that put real people at risk.
A guy had a bomb on an airplane. The realization that this person was willing to lose life over this is a pretty sobering way to remember this story. No matter how miraculous the whole event may seem. After the break, we'll look at the only pieces of evidence found in the case, and we learn about how Cooper treated his hostages. AS: Initially, it was believed that Cooper's jump from the plane was in a remote area of Southwest Washington.
This region was searched on foot and helicopter without a trace of Cooper or his parachute. The exact location of where he jumped has countless variables attached. The aircraft's speed and the weather conditions alone are enough to make this landing site a total mystery, not to mention, no one onboard had precise timing of when he jumped at all.
What makes this case so interesting to me are the seemingly perfect circumstantial and environmental elements it took to pull this off. It feels so unlikely that every element of that night aligned to assist Cooper pull off this amazing crime, but the alternate is equally unlikely.
If Cooper did die that night, how is it possible to have no evidence of a body or a parachute all these years later? Alex Sugg: Hey, Tom. This is Alex. Tom Kaye is a paleontologist from Arizona. He was hired by the FBI to examine evidence they believed was connected to Cooper. This is him telling me about a bird skeleton he's been researching for the past couple of weeks. TK: Bird fossil. It was 1. So the question was, was the thing running when it was out of the egg, or was it nest bound and taken care of by the parents?
AS: There's never just one possibility with Tom, and that's what makes him good at what he does. He doesn't jump to conclusion without facts to back it up. It's a great strength when you're looking at all of the outcomes to account for in the Cooper case. This one has some rare characteristics. Number one, it actually happened.
The fact that this happened and that it's the only unsolved skyjacking in US history makes it unique. Also the fact it was long enough ago that they couldn't apply modern forensic techniques to the case, but not so long ago that evidence is gone. Evidence is still available.
So as a paleontologist, I study things that have been buried in the ground for a long time. So although the connection doesn't make sense at first, when you explain it that way, it makes a little more sense. TK: Well there were three bundles of cash. The money remains probably one of the bigger mysteries in the Cooper case because we can't connect the dots between where he jumped in Ariel, Washington 20 miles away and how you end up on and there's money under the sand.
AS: What percentage would you say is likely that he survived the jump out of the plane? TK: We'd say at this point in the game very likely. So back in the day, jumping out of a plane at miles an hour seemed like it would shred the parachute, or you would get disoriented. It was dark out, there was clouds, it was raining. So there was a lot of reasons back then to say that he didn't make it. When you jump out of an airplane at miles an hour, the chute does not open right away.
It does what we call squidding. So you'd slow down there. You could make that jump, but I think he's more lucky than genius. He was not the first guy to jump out of an airplane like that, he wasn't the last. So he gets all the credit but he by no means thought it up all on his own. He may have, but there was other people that've done it before him. They just all got caught or died in the process.
TK: I think he was luckier than smart. He took some precautions but didn't take others. He was a gentleman though. He had food brought in for the pilots knowing it was going to be a long trip. He tried to tip the flight attendants, and they turned it down.
They turned down the money. When he got the money he was so happy he tried to give them some, and they said, "No, we can't take tips," which they were chided on afterwards saying, "You should have gotten some of the money back. He really seemed that this was something he was forced into doing. It was a do or die scenario. Alex Sugg: This case leaves a lot to mystery. In my findings, I realized that when you don't have a person but just a profile, it's easy to assume different things about it.
Some people believe Cooper was a mentally ill man who lost control and recklessly committed this crime. Others believe he was a sort of vigilante who gave a giant middle finger to the system, to the law, and even took the matter of getting rich quickly into his own hands.
Cooper's story has created a massive range of devoted followers. A simple search online and you'll find countless people either claiming to be Cooper, or claiming he was their uncle, or a parent, or some distant friend of the family, et cetera. There are city wide events where sunglasses, a black suit, and a clip on tie are the party dress code. There's even a music festival based off of his escape. No matter where you lie on the spectrum of Cooper and what kind of man he was, it's irrefutable that this case be seen as anything less than extraordinary.
AS: It's amazing that in all this time, no definitive evidence has emerged to show whether Cooper lived or died that night. It's a symbol of closure. There is a very high chance we will never know the identity of the man who was DB Cooper. People will continue to search and dig, but it would take some extraordinary evidence to show who he was at this point.
This person who's lived among us for 40 years. He could be in your very town. He could be down your street. AS: All these years later living a quiet life and still looking over his shoulder, wondering if today is the day he actually gets caught. In a strange way, I don't really want to find out who he was after all. When it's all said and done, all the right and the wrong, the genius or the sheer luck of this story, a part of me thinks keeping DB Cooper's identity a mystery is better than discovering who he really was all along.
This man will die one day, but DB Cooper, the myth and the story, will live forever as one of the greatest heists in history. Read the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance. The Buffett Indicator has gone haywire of late. The change to the tax code could allow millions of working families to save thousands on their taxes, but only if they are savvy about how they file this year. Investors have been fixated on growth companies over the past year, and one segment which has been on the rise is the fledgling cannabis industry.
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The move increases the international reach of Village Farms, and its ability to increase Altum holdings in the future. Authorities confirmed the victory of Joe Biden in the U. Presidential Elections on Saturday. The election itself was quite remarkable, considering it was undertaken during a pandemic. The former vice president never really referred to cryptocurrencies in any of his speeches. But he is known to be a proponent of the latest technologies and is known to advocate progressive technology-related policies.
Supporters of Joe Biden believe his policies will be beneficial for the tech industry. The rather smooth finish to the U. Presidential election has disappointed many crypto traders hoping for an inconclusive ending. In such a scenario, Bitcoin would have rallied due to its safe-haven characteristics. Also, the economy is still looking for another stimulus. The U. Therefore, the next U. Perhaps, here lies the first correlation between Joe Biden and Bitcoin. As the picture on Capitol Hill becomes clear, stimulus hopes are rising as well.
The decision to further promote a loose monetary policy with perpetually low rates will only exaggerate currency debasement. The value of assets is bound to rise in the long term. Around three decades ago, Joe Biden introduced bills that proposed to outlaw encryption, thereby inadvertently promoting the development of PGP keys.
His picks for key administrative roles are not known yet. Treasury Department. Fortunately, Brainard is presently associated with the digital dollar research project of Boston Fed. His rumored pick for Wall Street overseeing position is Gary Gensler , a blockchain enthusiast. These rumored names are enough to excite crypto fans. Still, it is too early to have a definitive correlation between Joe Biden and Bitcoin.
His scholarly interests include IT, computer languages and cryptocurrencies. With a special interest in blockchain powered architectures, he seeks to explore the societal impact of digital currencies as finance of the future. He is passionate about learning new languages, cultures and social media.
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