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Shocker for Cryptocurrency Clients: 'All of Your Money Is Gone'

After Quadriga CEO reportedly died, the mystery deepens
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2019 5:33 AM CST
Updated Mar 6, 2019 6:41 AM CST
Who has all of Quadriga's money?   (Getty Images/Jirapong Manustrong)

(Newser) – A CEO's untimely death, hard-to-crack passwords, and up to $190 million in missing cryptocurrency. These all underlie a mystery that Fortune calls the "implosion of Quadriga" after the December death of the QuadrigaCX coin exchange's chief, Gerald Cotten, at the age of 30, and now the FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police are reportedly involved. Cotten allegedly died in India of Crohn's disease complications, and he was the only one with access to the accounts of 115,000 Quadriga customers—but he apparently didn't leave his passwords with anyone, including his widow. The auditor Ernst & Young did manage to eventually get into the exchange, but it did so to a shocking find: All the digital wallets were cleaned out, per the BBC, which notes most of the funds were originally thought to be in "cold storage," meaning they weren't supposed to be accessible via the internet.

However, the E&Y report found 14 user accounts Cotten had "created outside the normal process," and CoinDesk poked around the transaction records and found indications someone moved the missing currency to "hot wallets" on other exchanges. Some even wonder if Cotten faked his own death, per Fortune. The upshot for Quadriga customers, per reporter Amy Castor, who offers a timeline of what happened with the exchange: "All of your money is gone." There's a $100,000 reward on the missing funds from Kraken, another cryptocurrency exchange, whose CEO, Jesse Powell, wants to both help his own customers who lost money through Quadriga and also keep the reputation of the cryptocurrency market overall intact. "I ... think you've got to get the family and staff and shareholders in a room for a few hours of interrogation to get to the bottom of what's going on," he tells Fortune. (Read more cryptocurrency stories.)

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