The QuadrigaCX saga has taken another dark turn, as recent reports suggest exchange cofounder Michael Patryn is actually Omar Dhanani, who was arrested in the United States as part of an identity theft scheme in 2004. Dhanani pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transfer identification documents as part of Shadowcrew.com, an online marketplace where people could access stolen credit card numbers and identities. He served 18 months in prison.
Documents obtained by the Globe and Mail, including public records obtained from the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department in New Jersey, suggest Michael Patryn and Omar Dhanani are the same person, with Patryn being an alias. Patryn has denied the allegations.
Mystery has surrounded the now-defunct exchange since its founder Gerald Cotten died from complications due to Crohn’s disease in India, leaving users of the exchange unable to access their funds. Patryn was not only a cofounder of QuadrigaCX, but a major investor, along with business partner Lovie Horner.
Shadowcrew.com, which at one point may have had up to 4,000 members, trafficked at least 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers to the tune of nearly $4 million dollars, according to court documents. The group used tactics such as spamming and phishing to capture credit card numbers, with victims including banks, credit card companies, and consumers, between 2002 and 2004.
Rumors about Patryn’s identity and history in the United States have percolated for years on social media, according to the Globe and Mail.
In the documents, Dhanani, using alias such as “Jaeden” and “Voleur,” is said to have run an anonymous electronic money-laundering service for Shadowcrew members, for a 10 percent cut. Court documents also show he went by the name Omar Patryn. Additional reporting by the Globe and Mail show the same address listed for both aliases in some instances, correspondence between the Globe and Mail and Michael Patryn through an email address listed for Omar Patryn, as well a 2011 incident in which Michael Patryn was ticketed in British Columbia for not wearing a seatbelt, with subsequent court record listing his alias as Omar Patryn.
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After Dhanani’s release from prison in 2007, he pleaded guilty to additional charges, including second-degree burglary and grand theft. In 2009 he was deported to Canada, according to court records.
Rumors about Patryn’s identity and history in the United States have percolated for years on social media, according to the Globe and Mail. Patryn, in an effort to counter claims made against him, hired Reputation.ca, a online reputation firm, to push negative search results about him down search indexes, while simultaneously burnishing the standing of positive content. Reputation.ca alerted him to posts on Reddit linking him to Omar Dhanani, says the Globe and Mail.
If the allegations against Patryn are true, they only deepen the QuadrigaCX mystery and may be concerning to customers who have not only lost access to their cryptocurrency but also provided personal financial information to the exchange.
Patryn, when confronted via email by the Globe and Mail, said that he would have to research the matter further and that “while I obviously disagree with your conclusions, I have to wait for counsel prior to responding more thoroughly.”