Tales from the crypto: QuadrigaCX investors want their $190m back from the dead

Last year, when the CEO of Canada’s largest crypto exchange died he took $190m in investor money with him because no one else knows the password to the company’s cold storage.


February 5, 2019

Investors in QuadrigaCX, Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, have been locked out of their funds since the exchange’s founder, Gerald Cotten, died last year. 

The reason: Gerald didn’t trust anyone else with the password. 

Now, according to CoinDesk, Cotten’s widow, Jennifer Robertson (who has no clue what the password is), said the exchange owes its customers roughly $190m in cash and crypto that’s tucked securely away in “cold storage.”

We’re talking so secure *no one* can access it

Cold storage “vaults” are a type of digital storage used by coiners to keep long-term investments safe from hackers. Cold storage companies are growing, but by the looks of it, they’re going to have to update their fine print with a clause about CEO power complexes.

Cybersecurity firm CipherTrace reports that crypto theft hit $1.7B in 2018 (up more than 400% from the year before), but $950m of that was stolen from exchanges and wallets — AKA “hot storage.”

But after months of transaction delays, QuadrigaCX has filed for creditor protection (a step to avoid bankruptcy) as it works with an expert to bypass encryption — so far, to no avail.

A crypto conspiracy? Nahhhhh

The company reportedly has some 115k clients with assets worth $70m, which Robertson estimates had grown to $250m by December 2018, and now, per the CBC, many people are calling conspiracy.

Despite a death certificate, some are even convinced Cotten’s still alive… living atop a mound of hard drives on an island somewhere (the truthers’ alternative theory is unclear)? 

Maybe trust SOME-one

When cryptocurrency blasted into popular culture around 2017, even the fanboys freaked out about security. So naturally, people went “expert level” on their passcodes.

The only problem is, when the time came, no one could friggin remember them — and, like Quadriga, these aren’t the kind of encryption layouts that let you name your childhood best friend to prove you are who you say you are.

Until Quadriga’s encryption ringer cracks the code, its investors are up crypto creek without a paddle… or a password. 

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