Ever since Canada-based cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX went dark last week, leaving more than $190 million worth of customer funds unaccounted for, the situation’s seemed a bit…off. How could an exchange responsible for millions of dollars leave its wallets’ access to only one man, a man who was allegedly suffering from Crohn’s disease and required “monoclonal antibody therapy every eighth week“? Even a CEO in perfect health could succumb to accident, or act irresponsibly with a private key.
But that’s just the algae-obscured surface covering this fishy conspiracy-laden pond. The more “facts” that come to light, the fishier it smells.
Of course no one should make light of a man’s death, and the court has appointed “an independent third party” to tie up QuadrigaCX’s loose ends. But a mysterious case where a man leaves $100,000 to his two dogs weeks before he’s reported dead in a foreign country with nearly $200 million worth of other people’s money is just too much for any conspiracy theorist worth their salt to ignore.
QuadrigaCX’s website is gone. In its place is this perplexing letter to customers.
The QuadrigaCX website describes its “liquidity issues” as problems accessing “very significant cryptocurrency reserves held in cold wallets.” Only if you scroll down to the Q&A section do you find that Gerald Cotten “took sole responsibility” for these wallets. This is clearly a high risk move—perhaps the kind that someone would make if they’re planning to eventually sneak away to a foreign country, fake their death, and walk away with numerous cold wallet keys and millions in cryptocurrency.
Never mind, maybe there aren’t any cold wallets for QuadrigaCX.
According to an in-depth report by “ProofofResearch” published on the ZeroNoncense Blog, there are “no identifiable cold wallet reserves for QuadrigaCX.” In fact, it looks as if the exchange was using new customer deposits to pay out other customers asking to withdraw their funds. Sounds like a certain series of failed “businesses” started by everyone’s favorite festival planner.
The amount of bitcoin currently owned by QuadrigaCX is significantly less than what Cotten’s wife reported in an affidavit on January 31.
ZeroNoncense also reports that in an affidavit by Jennifer Robertson, Cotten’s wife of about a month, QuadrigaCX’s balances were: “Bitcoin: 26,488.59834, Bitcoin Cash: 11,378.79082, Bitcoin Cash SV: 11,149.74262, Bitcoin Gold: 35,230.42779, Litecoin: 199,888.408, and Ethereum: 429,966.0131.” Meanwhile, through blockchain analysis, ZeroNoncense found there to be less than 1,000 BTC held by Quadriga, “with 1,000 being a very generous estimate at this point in time.”
You read that right. Cotten only got married about a month before his alleged death.
When he died in India, he was apparently on his honeymoon doing charity work at an orphanage with his wife. David Gerard writes that Cotten and Robertson married in October 2018 and had been together for “a few years” before that. This is clearly a tragic situation—but conspiracy theorists see is as a suspicious move in conjunction with other facts further down on this list.
Robertson may have legally changed her last name in 2016.
If the couple were indeed together for “a few years,” then they were likely a pair when Robertson changed her last name from Griffith, a juicy tidbit Reddit user blue_dodo discovered. Of course it’s possible that there are multiple Jennifer Robertsons in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but only one has recently been involved in multi-million-dollar mystery.
Cotten allegedly died on December 9, but his death wasn’t announced until January.
This detail is really just built for conspiracy theorists to latch onto, as it suggests a window long enough for someone who faked his own death to reinvent himself.
A request for information from the hospital where Cotten allegedly died turned up nothing.
Yes, Fortis Escorts, the hospital in Jaipur, India where Cotten allegedly passed, did confirm his death. Here’s a statement from the funeral home, courtesy of CoinDesk, and here’s a death certificate. However, when BREAKERMAG called Fortis Escorts to request additional details, a receptionist said there was no one available at the department that could answer our questions.
There is a precedent for fake death certificates being issued in India.
Just last month, The Times of India reported that six people were arrested for creating multiple false death certificates for people trying to claim insurance. Similar stories taking place in India abound.
Cotten filed a will less than two weeks before his death.
According to Bloomberg, Cotten signed his last will and testament in late November, leaving everything to his wife, the executor of his estate, and his two beloved chihuahuas, who will inherit $100,000. (So where does that leave conspiracy theorists? Is Cotten his own wife? Is he not a man at all, but just a pair of chihuahuas who somehow managed to legally marry a human woman several months ago? Are these questions any wilder than the actual details of this case?)
Small sums are being removed from the exchange’s Litecoin wallet.
Redditors are very much on the case. User whereMyCryptoAt found several timestamped transactions in which Litecoin funds are trickling out of QuadrigaCX wallets.
QuadrigaCX appears to have been liquidating funds since 2017.
It’s not just these recent Litecoin transactions former QuadrigaCX customers should be worried about. Apparently, the exchange has been playing the liquidation game for the past two years.
Fortunately, there’s a “silver lining” to this big mess. In its wake, the QuadrigaCX community has come together. In fact, they’re jokingly planning a “Gerry Cotten bar night,” in which the bartender inevitably disappears with the keys to the liquor cabinet and two chihuahuas are served exquisite cocktails while everyone else gets to watch.