Bitconned (2024) Movie Script

- [man 1] This is full-service.
- [man 2] Always the best.
[tense music playing]
[interviewer] In the eyes of society,
you're looked at as a criminal.
What are your thoughts about that?
I don't mind being looked at
as a criminal, really.
It's tough. I mean,
I just was doing crimes my whole life.
Scamming and shit like that.
- [man 1] A scammer, huh?
- [man 2] Yeah, a scammer.
I just think things have changed.
You know, it's not that easy
to just work hard and buy a house.
Nowadays, you gotta figure out
some sorta of way to finesse the system.
That's the modern-day American Dream.
How much did you make in total?
Uh, on paper, 32 million.
But, like, in reality,
we made like a few hundred million.
- [interviewer] Well, that's good. [laughs]
- Yeah. Trapanis.
[interviewer] Would you do it again?
Uh... I always go back to this point of,
if I knew it 100% that I was gonna make
$30 million doing something illegal,
would I do it? Would I not?
I would lean on
that I would take the risk.
[tense music ends]
[upbeat music playing]
[man] I was at the New York Times
covering the cryptocurrency universe.
I was the only person
at the paper who took it seriously.
Most of the editors at the paper
continued to view this as a joke.
It was sort of my job to say,
"You know, there's something real
going on here that is worth covering."
The people who cared about Bitcoin
really cared about Bitcoin.
I trust the Bitcoin. I believe in
the Bitcoin. I worship the Bitcoin.
[Popper] I actually started
to get captivated by this thing.
This was like digital gold.
[man] Your boy is officially
a Bitcoin millionaire.
You guys have no idea
how much this means to me.
It tapped into something in people.
Sixty-four thousand dollars
in a couple of days doing zero work.
[Popper] And then, in the middle of 2017,
you had the rise
of the initial coin offering.
Every day there was a new project
that overnight raised
tens of millions of dollars.
It became this, like, total phenomenon.
Every day I see three or four
new offerings of Bitcoin number three.
"This'll be better than Bitcoin.
You'll get rich overnight."
Crypto-mania rages on.
The future of the financial system.
[reporter 1]
He became a millionaire at 24.
[reporter 2]
ICOs are gonna change the world.
- We will write history.
- [audience cheers]
[Popper] I mean, it was an economic frenzy
that really had not been seen
before cryptocurrencies.
There may not be anything there.
Companies weren't really incented
to actually do anything with the money
besides spending the money.
ICOs allowed anybody to start selling
and marketing financial products
without a bank account.
There was just scams
and frauds everywhere.
Anybody could create an ICO,
and anybody did do it. [chuckles]
[mellow music playing]
Centra was the archetype
of what was wrong with cryptocurrency.
Crypto was just this new,
unfound territory.
Completely unregulated by the SEC.
And anytime you find a market like that,
you just have to figure out
how to exploit that market.
[pensive music playing]
We didn't know anything
about this fucking business.
But it didn't matter at all.
It was too easy.
We lied, we cheated,
and made millions of dollars.
And now I'm facing over 100 years.
[music fades]
Ever since I was a kid,
I've always wanted to be a criminal.
I was never like, "I'm gonna be a doctor,"
or, "I'm gonna be a scientist."
If I could have put it in my yearbook,
I would have put, "I wanna be a criminal."
[chuckles] You know.
[pensive music playing]
That explains it.
My mom was a single mom of three boys.
I wish my dad was around. He just wasn't.
He was a complete fucking loser,
and, you know, that's that.
[man] Ray's always tried really hard.
He was trying to be
someone from the street,
and he's not someone from the street.
He's from Atlantic Beach.
Where beaches are.
[seagulls cawing]
[intriguing music playing]
At the time,
that area was so flooded with oxy
we were already
full-blown drug addicts, for sure.
I loved the kid at the time.
Ray was, like, one of the first
best friends I had.
We started, you know, filling scrips.
[pills rattling]
We met some kid
who stole a prescription pad.
That prescription pad got stolen from him.
[Ray] We write out 120 oxys,
took that prescription
and went to a Walgreens.
[intriguing music continues]
They filled it.
It's always a cool feeling
when you hit that first mark.
Fucking all amped up.
You have the whole prescription pad,
knowing this is an unlimited money glitch.
My freezer was just thousands of pills.
[interviewer] How much were you making?
We were making like 5000 a day,
you know, on a good day.
[interviewer] At this age you're making
that kind of money.
What're you spending money on?
More drugs. [laughs]
Just having fun.
And then...
[sirens wailing]
Ray got in trouble.
He got pulled over,
and they found the bottle that said,
you know, a name on it
that was probably not his name.
They asked him where he got it,
and he ratted on me
and... and everyone else
that filled out scrips.
- [interviewer] Really?
- Yeah.
- [interviewer] Did you get in trouble?
- Yeah. I mean, I did.
I was going back and forth
to court for like two years.
[interviewer] What did Ray get?
Uh, nothing.
- Why?
- [chuckles] When...
When you talk to the police,
you're, you know, you're good.
[solemn music playing]
So it surprises me that he has
a tattoo of "loyalty" on his ribs,
and he's never been loyal
to not one of his friends.
It's disappointing
that he turned out to be the way he is.
Ray's a piece of shit, you know?
- [synthwave music playing]
- [car engine revving]
Sex, drugs, money. Anything that releases
endorphins, I am instantly, fucking,
I go, "I'll drop everything
for this right now." [laughs]
[music continues]
I have a good brain for, you know,
making money at whatever it is.
So when Bert reached out to me
with a legitimate business idea,
I was game.
[car engine revving]
[man] I've known Ray since third grade.
He's always been fascinated with money.
He's obsessed with it.
That's his one true love.
That's Ray.
[Ray] Bert was always in the car business,
so he knew the market.
And we came up with Miami Exotics,
which is a car rental business.
Luxury cars.
Rolls Royce, Lamborghinis.
[synthwave music ends]
[car engine revving]
This was my transition
into having a legitimate company.
I've done a lot of fraudulent scams
and all this type of shit,
but I don't really know business yet.
But Bert knew the perfect guy,
and, you know, I knew him also.
So we brought in Sorbee.
- [car engine revving]
- [upbeat music playing]
[upbeat music playing]
And Sorbee was a kid from high school
that I fucking hated. [chuckles]
He was always the smart kid,
but he was never a kid
that I trusted or liked.
[Bert] Ray and Sorbee were never friends.
They always disliked each other.
He just had this weaselly way
where he thought he was super cool.
Like, kind of wanted to be ghetto
but sounded super nerdy.
He was known for being
a scammer or, like, ripping people off.
I don't know, he just wasn't
my type of people. He does add value.
Me and Bert are very good at, like,
relationships and being able to just be,
like, the charismatic people
that can make the money.
And so, like, having Sorbee there
is very beneficial.
You can just keep him
in a room working all day.
It's not like everybody's
just good at the same shit.
[upbeat music ends]
[interviewer] How much money
did you need to raise to start this?
Uh, roughly half a million dollars.
You know, Ray called me and he said,
you know, "We just need financing."
[happy music playing]
So he went to my parents.
He's been saying he's gonna
be rich since he could talk.
Probably comes from my father.
My dad was a very good man,
and he always took care of my family.
[Ray] Growing up, my grandfather
was my only father figure that I had.
We all called him Pop.
My grandfather was,
all in all, a great guy.
Doing criminal shit
doesn't mean you're a bad person.
I always looked at my grandfather
like he was
the biggest mob boss there ever was.
He was able to support
my family financially.
I was like,
"You know, I'm gonna be a criminal
and support my family financially also."
I don't know if he saw, like, you know,
suitcases of cash like I did.
- [interviewer] You saw suitcases of cash?
- Yeah.
What are you trying to say?
He's in the mafia?
No, I'm more in the mafia
than he was. [laughs]
[Pat laughing]
Bill did something
to do with the elevator business.
[elevator dings]
We went down to Florida
to visit him, me and Bill.
Met his partners.
[gentle music playing]
He saw me happy,
which was, like, the big thing for him.
They just believed in me and were like,
"Here's an opportunity. Make it whatever
you think you're gonna make it."
Bill would do anything for Ray,
and so he was the father figure.
My grandfather signed, you know,
a quarter million-dollar loan
against his house,
a home equity line of credit,
to give me some sort of opportunity
of having this business.
We took that opportunity
and tried to go fully legit.
["Going Off" by P-Lo playing]
P-P-P-Lo, time to bring the bass back
Ayy, ouu-woo-woo-woo...
[Ray] The business was generating
probably about 60,000 a month profit.
We were renting cars to Rick Ross,
everybody under the sun.
I would go home, fill up my closets,
have my beautiful apartment
with all my shoes
and all my nice shit that I'm buying.
It's the unlimited money glitch
once again.
I'm going off
Three, two, one
I'm going off
And I was proud of him, you know,
that he was, you know, doing well.
I'm going off
This is great, you know. We can breathe.
[Ray] And I was just enjoying life.
Driving any car we wanted.
There was a good minute there,
everything was pretty...
pretty fun and enjoyable.
[car alarm beeps]
[car engine revving]
The issue was
that the spending was out of hand.
[brooding music playing]
If the company is generating a profit
of 60,000, between the three of us,
somehow we were spending
more than that every month.
I ended up getting more loans
for roughly a half a million dollars.
Just about everybody in my family,
my aunts, my mom, her husband, my grandma,
co-signed some sort of car loan
or credit card loan.
I saw Sorbee on Instagram.
He posted a big vacation
that he had in the Bahamas.
And that's when I was like,
"What is this kid doing?"
Obviously, you know,
something was not right.
[brooding music continues]
Vacations, hotels.
Whether it be, like,
Sorbee going out to the club,
or me just gambling,
or whatever it may be.
Bert buying a fucking dog.
Bert went and he bought, like,
a $2,000 dog on the company card.
[Ray] Money was leaking out
left and right in these weird areas.
And then, like,
sometimes just checks would be cashed.
Sorbee robbed the company.
That's what happened.
But the checks were written
in Bert's name. So, you know.
Sorbee was forging my name
and signing it to himself
and cashing them.
I don't fucking know who was writing
those checks. I still don't know.
Bert and Sorbee had no skin in the game
as far as finances.
I'll give anything to my family,
but not to you... you little pricks.
And there was always the excuse of,
"Oh, you're spending crazy money also."
But, you know, the thing is, those debts
were all my debts to... to deal with,
my family's loans.
So that's where, like,
I just started to go fucking crazy.
[Kerri] They 100% took advantage of him.
[interviewer] Do you think he took
advantage of you guys? That Ray did?
Do I think that Ray took advantage?
Yes, I do.
[somber music playing]
He really thought that it would develop
into this great business.
[Ray] I was in embarrassment
of how much in debt I was
that I was telling him
Miami Exotics is doing great.
But the money is just gone.
He was the one
that always extended his arm for me,
and I... I just didn't want
to disappoint my grandfather.
We had about 100,000 left. I was, like,
"Fuck it, I'll take it to the casino."
"I'm gonna take all this money
and just take one last chance."
I played baccarat all night.
I ended up losing everything I had.
Fuck it. You know, I'm gonna kill myself.
I just knew he'd be so disappointed.
[Pop] Raymond?
[Ray] When you're depressed,
you lose sight of everything.
It's a rabbit hole of shit.
I remember just opening that bottle
and just chugging 'em.
I took about 50,
which just about anybody would die from.
It's 100 milligrams of Xanax.
[Kerri] He called me after he woke up.
I mean, it's... it's heartbreaking,
you know, to see... see your kid like that.
You know, it's...
You know, it's, um...
You know, I feel sorry for him
because I felt like, you know, like...
You know, he's...
Even though he could be a little shit,
you know,
he always had a vulnerability about him,
even when...
No matter what he was doing, you know.
No, we just... You know, we cried.
We both cried and, you know,
I just basically said,
"You can figure it out.
We'll get this figured out."
Like, "You know, you're really smart."
[somber music playing]
[Ray] I'm sitting
in Miami Exotics' office.
[Bert] Ray was super upset.
And then...
Sorbee came up and started talking to Ray.
[Ray] Yeah, so at that point,
I just hated Sorbee completely
'cause I just felt, like, so betrayed.
And then he starts
talking about cryptocurrency.
I'm like, "What the fuck
is this kid even talking about?"
[chuckling] "What the fuck is that?"
You can just see, like, the light
in his eyes, that this was something.
And they came to the conclusion
that it was best
to kick me out of the company,
and that he would make
more money with Sorbee than with me.
That's what parlayed right into Centra.
[suspenseful music playing]
Sorbee's actually like the idea guy.
You know, he's... he's super good
at just coming up with ideas.
Or just sitting behind a computer
and... and, you know,
knowing where to steal ideas from.
One of the clear problems
with cryptocurrencies at that time
was that it was hard to use them.
People have gotten rich with Bitcoin,
and you could not spend
your cryptocurrency.
[Sorbee] Cryptocurrency started getting
really popular.
And I jumped on just like everyone else
about three years ago
and was trading Bitcoin
and, uh, Ethereum, etc.
And then, one day,
I was just sitting home,
and I was like, "You know what?"
"What if I could just go spend my Bitcoins
and the profits I've made
and just go buy stuff with it
without having to worry
about withdrawing, depositing, et cetera?"
And that's where kind of the idea
manifested for Centra Card.
Our pitch to the world was
we were gonna create a debit card
where you'd be able to spend
cryptocurrency in real-time,
anytime, anywhere.
[suspenseful music continues]
We're gonna create a...
a marketplace for cryptocurrency.
We're gonna have
our own exchange, our own wallet.
- [beeps]
- [whirs]
Basically, everything you need
in cryptocurrency,
we were gonna put it in one central place.
[Popper] During the ICO boom,
you had people doing
these serious projects.
Kids, you know,
with PhDs from Stanford, from MIT,
at the same time as you had these kids
who were agents
at rental car companies in Miami,
who were raising the exact same
amount of money as the PhDs from MIT,
without any experience in this universe
that they were building in.
And it was just too easy to do.
[tense music playing]
We created the basis of the whole company.
First thing, we have to create a LinkedIn
and put our universities. [chuckles]
[tense music continues]
[keyboard clacking]
We all went to Harvard.
[laughs] We were trying to make ourselves
look as smart as possible.
Creating the business plan
that you present to the world
was the next thing.
There's a company called TenX in Singapore
that created a debit card,
and they just raised roughly $20 million.
We're like, "Let's just take that idea
and make it our own."
We hired a guy on Upwork,
and he just took their website
and changed the word TenX
to Centra just about on every page.
[tense music continues]
[man] I'm a developer
and worked as a freelancer
to develop Centra Tech.
[gentle piano music playing]
I was hired to work
as a developer for Centra project.
I was like five
when I start working with computers.
Some people might think I'm a genius.
[both laughing]
I think every problem can be solved
if you put enough effort.
There is literally nothing
that can't be solved.
Well, we were freelancing at that time.
Working on different projects.
And one day we got a request for a number,
and we meet this guy on the phone.
His name was Sam.
[Sorbee] It's very simple.
It's a lightning speed, real-time, uh,
crypto asset to fiat conversion system
that's designed to work with an endless
amount of assets of our choice.
Currently, we support eight.
We're gonna go to 12.
And we were pretty excited for the project
because that kind of technology
was not present on the market,
so it was very good idea to be developed.
Centrachain is going
to be our own blockchain.
[interviewer] Are you guys
personally interested in crypto?
- Um...
- Well, it's a trend.
[keyboard clacking]
Usually the people with ideas
have very little knowledge in technology
or how the things are done.
So we put it together.
[crickets chirping]
People need to understand that our product
is going to be the best, hands down.
- [music ends]
- [dog panting]
[pensive music playing]
[man] I was invested in Ethereum, Bitcoin,
and I made good choices.
Pretty smart investments.
What excited you initially about it?
Was this just like an investment thing,
or was it more than that?
[man] Um, can I be, like, really honest?
I wanted to be wealthy, right? Yeah.
I wanted to make money quickly,
travel the world...
be financially free.
The issue at that time is,
how do you spend cryptocurrency?
And I came across Centra Tech.
It was exciting at the time.
I was all about Centra Tech. I was like,
"Look at this, this makes sense."
I was young, and as a military member,
I did not get paid that much money.
I got hooked
because of the opportunity to make money.
[exciting piano music playing]
But then also having a utility device
that would allow me to spend
my newly-acquired financial freedom.
All of the technology sounded good.
They had a real team
that could build that tech.
They had backing from Visa and Bancorp.
And there was the CEO.
Michael Edwards was the one
that stuck out, big-time, for everyone.
There's no technology company
or credit card company that's two people.
[inspirational music playing]
Michael Edwards was
a seed investor in Centra Tech.
You know, he believed in our concept.
You know,
he had business experience in this field.
He didn't really want to be
a part of operations.
He just believed in the concept
and wanted us to get going.
We made him the CEO
because we didn't want anybody to see
that young kids
were the owners of this company.
We wanted somebody that would represent
a strong older figure.
To have somebody that's, like, respectable
and presentable to the public.
We had everything.
How would you not be interested
in this company?
Once we created the website
and launched the Slack channel,
there was just an influx
of people interested so fast.
Slack was the direct communication portal
from the founders to investors.
I was interested in the metrics
that they were pushing.
They're like, "You're gonna be
one of the first investors in,
and that means you have the maximum amount
of benefit you can generate from this."
And that's the way
that I looked at it at the time.
You guys who can get into the ICO,
may be very worthwhile to do.
I'm excited for Centra.
I'm gonna be buying.
[man 1] And they have
a really great team behind them.
[man 2] Real professional.
Seems like they have their stuff together.
[suspenseful music playing]
What'd he tell you he was doing?
What did you ask about his business?
You know, he would just basically
would tell me, "It's an electronic money."
"And it's the currency of,
you know, the next generation."
Something about Bitcoins or something?
I don't even know what it is.
[pensive music playing]
You can see here
they have their token sale
starting tonight at midnight.
All right, so that's coming up soon.
Uh, that's why I want to get
this video out to you stat.
[pensive music continues]
[clock ticking]
[Ray] Our ICO had been live
for a few weeks.
It's not really, like,
this big success at all at first.
It sucked.
About a month goes by, we made ten,
twenty, fifty thousand.
We're rolling. We're rolling.
Sixty, seventy, eighty thousand.
[ticking rapidly]
And then one night,
tons of money just starts flooding in.
A hundred thousand,
another hundred thousand,
five hundred thousand.
Within another hour, we had $2 million.
We're like, "What the fuck,
is this even real? What is going on here?"
[Jacob] It was pretty exciting
to watch it go up.
Just watching something go up
and become extremely valuable, it's like
a drug, like adrenaline hitting you.
You're so excited that your investment
is making a ton of money.
It brings up all these
different opportunities in your mind.
"What can I do with my life now?"
[Ray] Clearly there was a reason
why all this big money was coming in.
People in our chat room started saying,
"Clif High wrote this article.
You guys see that?"
Me and Sorbee, like, jumped in there.
We're like,
"Of course we know Clif High.
We love Clif High. Yeah, he's the man."
We had no fucking idea who he was.
The whole, uh, banking system is failing.
But in the... in the meantime,
we're all going to be dealing with
real money in the form
of gold, silver, and cryptos.
And the cryptos are going
to be, um, the fluid part of it.
And he was, like,
a crypto guru type of guy.
He's just some, like, some old nerd.
He was saying
this is gonna be a big thing.
He put out this press release
telling all his big investors
to put out their money for Centra.
We went from having, like, 200 people
in our Slack channel
to having like 2,000 people
within, like, you know, a couple hours.
Time to go to the stratosphere.
This company's takin' off.
[printer whirring]
[upbeat music playing]
With ICOs,
it's like you're printing money.
That's what you're doing.
You're printing money.
You're allowed to print money.
That moment was probably the best moment
of Centra, like, as far as feelings.
It's the craziest shit to think
we were able to raise that much money
with having absolutely nothing
but a website.
I figured
it wasn't, like, aboveboard, right?
Like, I just, I kind of
put two and two together on that.
But I also, like... You got to realize
it was very par for the course.
I knew Ray was gonna be a millionaire.
Like, he's been saying it forever.
Like, if he didn't,
I'd be shocked, to be honest.
Even as a kid, he was just always
interested in making money.
And committing crimes seemed to be,
like, his main motivating force.
He has such a fucked-up moral compass.
He's always, like, figuring out these
weird systems and how to manipulate them.
Whether that be exploiting people
or scamming, that's who he is.
They have nothing.
The investors think
they have all this shit built.
So, the whole thing
is to now make themselves
as legitimate as possible
to secure this investment.
It is a good idea, right?
[footsteps approaching]
["Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)"
by The Chi-Lites playing]
My name is Raymond Trapani,
Chief Operating Officer of Centra Tech.
After the Clif High interview,
we had a few million dollars,
and we're like,
"We have to get an office."
The pressure was on. We needed
something to present to the world.
Up until that point,
we were working in a small bedroom.
We get a beautiful office.
And it was perfect.
Let's give you guys a quick tour.
Hopefully, I'm still live right now.
- [phone ringing]
- [Ray] Glass windows, really sleek.
It just looked like a tech-based company
would live there, right?
We hired roughly 50 people.
[Sorbee] So this is our offices.
This is our customer support area.
- Say hi, girls.
- Hi.
[Ray] You have, you know, hot girls
who can do, like, assistant work.
Then you can have customer service,
which also could be half hot girls. Uh...
- [Sorbee] That's our COO, Raymond Trapani.
- How's everybody doing?
You're hiring real developers
to build real tech.
[Sorbee] This is what we call
the brain room right here.
As many people know,
we work with many talented individuals.
[Ray] You know, I don't think any of us
really knew what the process was.
We were just
shooting at the hip from day one.
The employees definitely thought
the company was fully legit.
All right, we got the man, the myth,
the legend, Mr. Farkas right here. Say hi.
[music stops]
What's up, everybody?
This is Robert Farkas.
I just wanted to give
our community an update
about what we've been working
so diligently towards.
When Sam originally told me
about Centra Tech,
he said, "I have this new technology.
It's gonna be the future of finance."
And it was probably the most exciting
thing I've ever experienced in my life.
Everyone wanted to be part of it.
Even if you didn't know much about crypto,
you were like, "Wow, that's really cool."
"You created a debit card that connects
magic internet money to the real world?"
[mellow music playing]
You know, he needed help.
He needed employees.
He was doing too much on his own.
He was juggling a million things,
and that's when mistakes happen.
I said, "I'm not a software engineer,
but I can add value to the company
some way, shape, or form."
Robert Farkas was
Sorbee's girlfriend's brother.
We told him to quit his job
and come work for us.
Was he qualified to be a CFO?
Definitely not qualified to be a CFO.
[audience cheering]
He was a stripper in his past life.
You know, once we raised enough money
and we had a lot of people
in the chat rooms,
we needed someone
that would just sit on there all day
and just talk
to these fucking thousands of people.
So many chats funneled into our company.
We had to juggle
all these different forums.
I was doing conferences,
setting up booths,
getting the community involved.
It felt like we were changing the world.
Sam had been coding
since he was 13 years old.
He was a go-getter,
a hustler, a smart kid.
I think he's a genius.
Sam got things set up in light speed.
A speed that has never been seen before.
So this is a lot of project work
that we're doing with a lot of engineers.
Let's start this journey!
[cheerful music playing]
We have a 50,000 card order
that's being prepared for manufacturing.
So mass production
is right around the corner, guys.
December is our... our timeline
on getting these cards to you guys.
[phones ringing]
We promised people they would be getting
the cards out before Christmas.
We figured if we could just provide that,
none of the other stuff matters.
We're solving problems
on the project pretty fast.
The development was speeding up.
[Jonny] This shady company just graduated
to, like, the next level, right?
For Sorbee,
the whole thing is to now make themselves
as legitimate as possible, right?
I'm a researcher
as well as my teams are researchers.
[Jonny] Sorbee did a lot of research.
He fucking did it.
He wants to figure it out,
like, actually do it.
[cheerful music continues]
[Robert] We literally stayed up
all night every night.
We were just running
on adrenaline and Monsters.
Yeah, we were working more than full time.
I don't remember Ray
contributing much of anything.
[ice clinking]
He had like this little mafioso vibe.
Loved gambling and loved money.
And the whole time he was, um,
[music fades]
[Ray] My first thing,
I went and bought all beautiful suits.
I bought Armani suits.
I get them all tailored perfect.
- How many suits did you get?
- I was in the mall every day.
- Going to Saks every single day.
- Really?
My suit guy just like...
- [interviewer] He must have loved you.
- Yeah.
We were making
about a half million dollars a day.
Money just was flying in.
I went from, like, having
a few hundred thousand in the bank,
to just having millions
in your own personal bank account.
- At 24 in Miami.
- [interviewer] Yeah.
[Ray] Got a new car.
- [car engine starts, revs]
- [tires screeching]
We were trying to put as much money
to the side as we possibly could.
You can always just cash out more.
Essentially print more money.
[interviewer] It was coming in so easy
that it really didn't matter.
[Ray] I remember one time during the ICO,
there was this one guy
who was trying to invest,
and then he gave me his password
to his whole crypto account.
He meant to send me his passcode
to send the Centracoins to,
and he gave me his password.
And I was in this moment. I was like,
"Holy shit, this guy
just gave me his password."
I logged in. Couldn't help myself.
I already had made millions.
This is like 100,000
sitting in his account.
And what do I do here?
I just transferred it all to my account.
This guy trusted me, and I felt like
I genuinely robbed this guy, you know?
That was a fucked-up moment for sure.
Ray always had a lot of cash on him.
Like, he literally had it in his hoodie,
and he's dropping it,
and he's, like, wasted.
And everyone's like,
"What's up with this guy?"
Ray was in his own world.
[club music playing faintly]
He just wanted to stuff his pockets.
[pensive music playing]
[music fades]
It wasn't like you had to do much work
to get these people to be interested.
You know it's gonna be easy
to pump this company up.
You know, it's really all marketing.
[Sorbee] Sounds good, brother.
Thank you. All right, bye.
Just spoke to fucking,
motherfucking Floyd Mayweather!
[Ray laughs] Yes!
[tense music playing]
[reporter] Next up, we have
some pretty crazy news coming out
from the Floyd Mayweather camp.
[contemplative music playing]
[Ray] How can we promote this company,
now that we have this amount of money,
to get it to the next level?
Let's get an endorsement
from a major celebrity.
[Robert] This was the peak of Mayweather's
career, where he just went 50-0,
and Sam was like, "I can get him."
- We're like, "Get the fuck out of here."
- We know how to network, guys.
We know how to be able to put
the connectivities of brands to us.
Oh, what's up, champ?
How's everything, boss?
He's down, and he, you know,
he obviously wants a lot of money,
and we're, like, trying
to secure the deal.
We ended up
somehow pitching Floyd Mayweather
to take 200,000 in cash
and take 800,000 in Centracoins.
You know, he's not the brightest guy,
so he accepts it.
[music continues]
What's up? It's the one and only...
your man, Floyd "Money" Mayweather.
I get my card out, my Centra Card.
The new way things are done.
Floyd "Money" Mayweather.
As y'all can see,
the number changed from before.
He does a commercial,
and the commercial goes crazy for us.
[Jacob] It was an amazing thing.
I mean, any good publicity
that's going to pump your coin
is gonna make you more wealthy.
This is a huge moment for Centra.
So let's see
how they capitalize off of that.
So I'm in the lab.
My man put me up on this Centra vibe.
Then we secured the second
endorsement deal with DJ Khaled.
The Centra vibe
is that Bitcoin, I'm sayin'.
[music continues]
You know, I started like that.
That's that Billy talk.
[Ray] Instantly, millions of dollars
are coming in.
We're making
millions of dollars... every day.
This is such a revolutionary technology.
You can't really stop it.
[Mayweather chuckles] Yes, I told y'all.
Got my Centra Card. Bitcoin.
I'm doing big thing.
When I first started covering this,
my starting point was,
I'm gonna look at these coins
that are getting
endorsements from celebrities.
It just didn't make sense.
You had the people in the world who have
to know the least about technology,
pretending as though they are some sort
of experts on which of these projects
are the right ones for you to put
your millions of dollars into.
And it was clear
they were all getting paid to do this.
They have to disclose
that they're getting paid
if they're gonna promote
something on social media.
Somebody needs to dig into this
and figure out
what the hell is going on here.
This one project stood out.
The Centra vibe
is that Bitcoin, I'm sayin'...
[keyboard clacking]
[Popper] Things looked funny.
[pensive music playing]
You just went to their website,
you scrolled down
and looked at the pictures
they had of their staff and founders.
The pictures didn't even
look like real people.
And then they had the LinkedIn profile
for each of these employees.
The ones
where the LinkedIn accounts did work,
the employees all had
degrees from Harvard,
and they were executives at Wells Fargo.
I mean, nobody at Wells Fargo was working
in the cryptocurrency universe.
It just... None of it seemed plausible.
I found these Instagram accounts
that made it clear
that their LinkedIns were totally untrue
and that, in fact, they worked
at some sort of car dealership.
So I started digging further.
[line ringing]
One day, I got a call
from an author for the New York Times.
"Hey, we're doing a story
on celebrities involved in crypto."
So I put Ray the phone.
[Ray] Hi, how you doing?
[Popper] Hey, that's Ray?
[Ray] Yeah, speaking. How are you?
[Popper] You have a second to talk?
- [Ray] What company are you from?
- [Popper] The New York Times.
- [Ray] All right. What's your name, sir?
- Nathaniel Popper.
[Ray] You're an author
for the New York Times?
[Popper] I'm a reporter
for the New York Times.
I've been reporting on Bitcoin
and blockchain stuff for several years.
- [Ray] So you know your stuff. I get you.
- [Popper] I'm following...
[Ray] Centra, in my opinion,
is the future of cryptocurrency
and the financial industry
at the same time.
[Popper] Okay. Um, good, well, um...
[Ray] It's gonna be able to make cards
that they're able to spend
their cryptocurrency on in real time.
Just like an iPhone
coming to the world in...
[Popper] Um, mm-hmm.
Yeah, it felt great.
New York Times? We're all from New York.
You know, how can you beat that?
It was amazing.
A great opportunity to get our name out
to the United States market.
They want to send a photographer over.
I said, "No problem.
You know, send them over."
"Sorbee will come to the office,
and we'll all take these pictures."
[Popper] After my first call,
I told the photographer to rush down there
to get the photos before they,
sort of, second-guessed all this.
And their offices actually existed.
It really seemed like
this had started as a scam,
and then they suddenly started to think,
"You know what, maybe we'll just do this.
Maybe we'll just make a credit card."
Anybody can come here to our offices.
Doors are open.
You can meet the staff.
They're intelligent people.
[Popper] Let's hire some programmers
and put something on the blockchain,
and we'll create the next bank.
Even though no part of the building blocks
that they were working from were real.
[Ray] We all got, like, our best suits on.
[wondrous music playing]
[shutter clicks]
[music fades]
[car engine revving]
[Kerri] Yeah, it was exciting
because I saw, you know, the spiral down
after Miami Exotics,
and now he's feeling good.
He was making money. He was successful.
[Pat] Ray came to the door.
He had a Harvard shirt on.
I said, "Where did you get that?"
He says, "Oh, online." [chuckles]
Then he started laughing.
He said, "I went to Harvard."
"I started this big company."
It was just kind of, "Okay, let's hope
that everything's gonna be okay."
[car engine revving]
[phone ringing]
[Popper] Um, Ray?
I've been coming across other questions
that have come up around Centra.
The first thing is Visa has said
nobody has applied to issue a Centra Card.
[Ray] I mean, I... I know...
I know details about that.
I mean, you know, I mean...
But, I mean, I... I can't give you
direct answers on that.
These guys say
that they're issuing a card with Visa.
They have pictures up on their website
that have cards
that have the Visa logo on it.
One of the first things I did
was call Visa.
They said, "We have no idea
who these guys are,
and there is no record of an application."
"They're gonna have to take
that off of their website."
[Ray spluttering] I can't...
[Popper] Okay, I mean Visa's just saying
this company Centra is not allowed
to issue a card with Visa on it.
[Ray] Till we do the mass order,
they're never gonna speak on that.
Anytime somebody tells you, you know,
"I... I don't really feel comfortable
answering that question,"
or, "These are questions that are very..."
[Ray] Very, very tough for me
to answer here. You know, I mean, like... know
that there's something going on here.
[pensive music playing]
I was looking at this and just trying
to come up with an explanation
that could sort of plausibly explain
how they had raised that kind of money...
[Clif] And the channel is "ClifHigh."
...when it was
so clearly fraudulent and a lie.
[Ray] You know? And then
once we went public, what happened?
I mean, overnight it blew up.
Bang, one of the biggest guys
in crypto wrote,
"Centra Tech is the best company
in the world to invest in."
It got us to where we are now,
which is a big chunk of change.
[Popper] Okay.
A lot of corporations are gonna die.
Lots and lots of them.
Along with some of the Cryptos, right? Um...
Clif High understood this project
and, you know, believed in the project...
[arcade game music plays]
...and then realized that it was
a scam.
- [tense music plays]
- [printer clatters]
The shit hit the fan with Clif.
[Ray] The whole article was a fuck-up.
I... I probably never even read
the fucking full article.
[Jonny] Clif High used
these things called web bots,
which make AI-generated summaries
of news articles.
This web bot fucked up
and put Centra's name in this article
about this bank called Centra.
Clif High had thought this bank was part
of them, which would have been huge news.
Imagine if Bank of America, or something,
partnered with, like, Ethereum.
Clif High reaches out and was like,
"Hey, I fucked up big time."
Clif reaches out to us,
and he asks if we can go live with him
in front of an audience.
And we agree.
We agree to it. We're like, "Fuck it."
Like, how bad can it go?
Sorbee's very good at talking.
You know, we've had people
ask us questions so many times,
and it always goes so well.
And then the first thing
Sorbee says in that call is...
We are one hundred percent not a scam.
Starting off saying "this is not a scam"
is the most bizarre thing in the world.
No one ever says that
unless it's actually a scam.
Okay, that's... that's fine, that's fine,
but your statements...
your statements don't mean anything.
You stating you're not a scam
in no way proves you're not a scam.
I'm not here to scam anybody.
I wouldn't have raised $4.5 million,
came on here to scam anybody.
[Clif] You're listed as the Chief
Technical Officer on LinkedIn.
And for some reason,
you're still using an email account
from a business, uh,
that is a car dealership.
[Clif] I don't think you have
your technical, uh, shit together here.
What have you got in the way of equipment?
What's your server farm like?
I don't know the details of it.
The tech director
that did that for me, to be honest.
- I'm a startup. I haven't been...
- Jesus Christ.
I've been in business
less than a year and a half.
[Ray] He asked about the bank contracts.
- [Clif] My question comes to this...
- [Sorbee] Bancorp Bank...
Absolutely. I'm getting right to it.
Bancorp Bank, they're our managers.
And we go directly through
their licensing agreement.
[Clif] So that locks you out of, like,
34 states instantly because of the costs.
Not 34. It's 36 states.
So it's about... it's about 28 states.
Because there's 51, 52 states, I think.
- Right?
- [laughs]
[Clif] All right, guy. [laughs]
I'm not good with words, okay?
Let's just make it blunt and honest.
I haven't... I just know what we're doing.
You're not a...
You're not a software engineer,
you're not a coder, not a blockchain...
Me personally, no. And I... I told you that.
I'm the guy who leads them
to be able to design my vision.
[Clif] So Mike doesn't do shit then?
Why is he the CEO?
- To be honest, he's the money dude.
- And what's his role in this?
Mike... Mike...
Mike was, honestly, an investor
who saw my vision and said,
"You know what?
I'm gonna do this for you."
He gave me the opportunity
to get where I am today.
We're not the brightest, smartest people.
- We're not gonna sit here and say we are.
- [Clif] Why bring that up?
[Sorbee] I went and did my due diligence...
I didn't wanna believe anybody in this
universe until they prove things to me,
so I immediately start asking
about their alleged CEO, Michael Edwards.
[line ringing]
Michael Edwards, is he, um, I mean,
is he someone I can speak to?
Just so I can understand, sort of,
his role and what his view of this is.
[Ray] He stops by the office, you know,
once in a while to check up on things.
In regards to speaking to him,
what do you wanna speak to him about?
[Popper] I'm just wondering if there's
a person there that I could talk to?
[Ray] Yeah,
I can probably put that together.
Only in regards to, you know, being
that it's a New York Times article.
[Popper] I mean, you had him as your CEO.
Is he still your CEO?
[Ray] He's more of our original money guy
before we got everything in place.
[pensive music playing]
There was so much heat on us
that we knew we're just trying to remove
everything that was fake,
every misrepresentation, all at once.
[pensive music continues]
We gotta clear all the Fufu.
[enchanting music playing]
Fugazi, fake stuff. [chuckles]
Bancorp was the bank
that we had listed on our website.
They faked that too, so I would
just get out while I still could.
[Robert] For the prototype card,
Sam used Bancorp prepaid cards.
So he was like,
"Fuck it. Let's just say Bancorp."
Because technically, it was Bancorp.
[Sorbee] Approved.
[Robert] And one day,
we got a cease and desist
from the Bancorp Bank.
It was pretty nerve-wracking.
Sam found a law firm called Pope and Dunn.
They were a super reputable firm
out of New York on Water Street.
Eric Pope was this ex-SEC attorney.
[phone ringing]
A smart, witty guy on the phone.
He said, "Listen,
I'm gonna handle all your legal stuff."
You know, he consoled us about any hiccups
that we had early on in the company.
[Eric] We're definitely on top of it.
We have the best legal team on top of it.
We sent the cease and desist to Eric Pope.
"Eric, what do we do?"
He said, "Just take it off your website."
"Don't worry about it. Just abide by
the cease and desist and keep moving."
[Jacob] I started noticing that things
were changing on their website.
Bancorp disappeared off their white paper.
Why is that gone?
What's going on here?
Where's the technology
that you're promising?
[music fades]
[crickets chirping]
[Sorbee] We have reasons
we don't disclose certain things.
We have technology to protect.
Our technology is our backbone.
Without our technology,
we don't have a product.
Our goal is not to not be transparent.
Because we understand
how cryptocurrency
can take non-transparency
and run with it as a scam, so we get that.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Ray] Everything that
we would go back to, like,
when we'd get caught
into something was like,
"Oh yeah, it's great
we have Michael Edwards
to rely on for all this advice,
and he's really bringing
our vision to life here."
So I'm gonna go back to reading
some of the questions
to see what people have been asking.
So I'm just gonna scroll up top.
[contemplative music continues]
[Ray] Of course,
people wanted to meet Michael Edwards.
People would come into our chats
talking shit. Just talk and talk.
"When are you gonna have Michael Edwards
come on and talk to everybody?
"Did he work here?
Did he go to this college?"
"Is there somebody named Michael Edwards
who lives in Miami,
who is this age, who has this picture?"
Where is the alleged co-founder and CEO?
"Michael Edwards."
That's when we... we really knew
that we had to get rid of Michael Edwards
as soon as possible.
[contemplative music continues]
[dramatic music plays]
Stupid mistake.
[contemplative music continues]
[Ray] Put out a press release.
Michael Edwards, our CEO,
died in a car accident.
It was a crazy, terrible car accident.
God bless the dead.
And, you know, that was that.
[music ends]
[footsteps approaching]
I'm Michael Edwards,
founder and CEO of Centra Tech.
[interviewer] Is that, uh,
who you really are?
No, that's not who I really am.
I'm Dr. Andrew Halayko. I'm a professor
at the University of Manitoba.
"On August 25th,
Michael Edwards suddenly left this world."
"He leaves behind
his French bulldog, Stanley,
and an accomplished career
as an investor and VP
for Wells Fargo and Chase."
"He graduated with an MBA
from Harvard University,
which prepared him
for his most recent venture as co-founder
and chief executive officer
of Centra Tech in Miami Beach, Florida."
That's pretty creepy.
Uh... [chuckles]
Wow. Well, at least I had an MBA,
and I was...
I was well-trained at Harvard. [chuckles]
I hadn't realized that they had
actually gone to that extent.
Michael Edwards was never
even a real person, not at all.
We completely created him from scratch.
The photos for Michael Edwards
were just taken off Google.
We just looked up "old white guy..."
[keyboard clacking]
...looked at all the images,
and found an old white guy. [laughing]
And just took that image,
and, you know, that was Michael Edwards.
[pensive music playing]
[Dr. Halayko] It's infuriating
that you are being manipulated
and used to someone else's benefit.
After Michael Edwards was killed off,
what we were trying to do
is find a new CEO.
And that's where we asked my grandfather
if he wanted to be the CEO of the company.
And at the time, he had cancer,
so, like, he really didn't care.
He was like, "Fuck it.
Yeah, just put me up there."
You know, we took his picture.
And we had a new CEO.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Popper] Um, so look, since we last spoke,
the original CEO, Michael Edwards, um,
his picture was the picture
of this guy from Canada
who wasn't named Michael Edwards.
I saw that you deleted the original
LinkedIn profile that he had up.
[Ray] You see, that's the thing.
He wanted to be a ghost investor.
[Popper] But that LinkedIn profile
disappeared then, right?
[Ray] When... When was that?
I'm not... I'm not even sure about that.
- [Popper] There was a LinkedIn...
- [Ray] I just have one question.
Where... Where are you getting at with the...
like, the... the end point of this?
[Popper] Um...
[Jacob] After Michael Edwards passed,
I needed to know who William Hagner was.
I researched the founders,
whatever I could find.
[keyboard clacking]
I started looking into Raymond Trapani
and his entire background
on his Facebook page.
Wow, what is this?
William Hagner
is actually Raymond's grandfather.
It was very suspicious.
I was sounding the alarm
in the Slack channel.
[keyboard clacking]
[Robert] We were getting some backlash.
There was always, like, a troll
that we had to shut up.
People say they don't have a CEO.
There's a few other things that people
think there's a fraud involved here.
[Jacob] There was a post
on a YouTube channel
breaking down everything on the website
that didn't make sense.
I'm not too concerned
about YouTube and Reddit.
We're not gonna engage with this.
[Jacob] When that came out,
Centra Tech offered money
to take this down,
and then he took that,
and he posted it onto Slack.
It's like, "Hey look. I just got offered
by them money to take this down."
[suspenseful music continues]
[Robert] Every day there was somebody
spreading FUD in all our chats.
Fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
And a lot of these trolls, we actually
turned them into Centra believers.
[interviewer] Was that by paying them?
Did you pay them
to remove unfavorable posts?
I don't know about that. [laughs]
[Ray] We were paying people off all day.
That's all we did.
"I know this is all bullshit,
but here's, you know, twenty grand."
"Can you fucking take this shit down?"
[Jacob] "Where did your partnerships go?"
"Where is the actual proof
that this works?"
And as I continue to push that, uh,
people were getting upset.
I feel bad for you guys.
You guys have nothing better to do
with your lives
than try to troll a company.
[Jacob] They were basically saying,
"Oh, I'm spreading FUD."
[Ray] Anytime that's in a chat room,
you're just trying to get that out
of the chat room as fast as possible.
You know, some people,
you can just tell right off the bat
they're not gonna be bought.
And they decided
it would just be worth it to ban me
so I could no longer spread FUD.
I was extremely angry.
These people are awful.
[tense music playing]
I was a... I was a... a dirtbag
when I was younger.
More like a Raymond Trapani, if you will.
A lot changed
when I went on my first deployment
and experienced what I did.
[shell casing clinks]
I was in Afghanistan.
Loss takes you aback,
and you really have to question,
what are you here for?
It just changed, uh, everything...
pretty quickly.
We all have to grow at some point
to have something to live for
other than money.
It can buy you a lot of things,
but at the end of the day,
the... the person that you were in life
will outlive the money that you have.
After I got banned,
I became obsessed with Centra and, uh,
absolutely wanted to take them down.
[gun fires]
Yeah, it was a personal vendetta
at that point.
[tense music continues]
[man on video] So the two main guys
who recently completed the Centra ICO,
they're basically just scam artists.
So be careful.
[Ray] You know, day-to-day, there would be
people making YouTube videos
about how Centra is doing this wrong,
and these contracts aren't real.
You know, at that moment
I remember just thinking in my head, like,
this is the end of it.
And, out of nowhere...
[hopeful music playing]
...fucking South Korea.
[Robert] Bitsset, a South Korean company.
There wasn't a lot
of information about them,
but we knew they had a lot of money.
They loved Centra Tech, and they wanted
to help us grow in the Asian market.
[Ray] They'll invest
five million dollars upfront,
and then you guys will come to Korea
and show us proof of concept,
and then we'll invest the rest.
So they invested five million.
And from there, we're like,
"All right, we're going to fly down
to Korea and get the shit going." So...
[interviewer] You were like,
"We have to have an app now."
[uplifting music playing]
[Ray] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
We had already created
a fake app for other presentations,
so that we could make a video
and show that on the app, "Oh, look..."
[whirs, beeps]
"The correct amount of Bitcoin
is being removed after I swipe my card."
But we needed a better fake app.
[gentle music playing]
We were given task. "Can you create us
interface when we press a button,
that it proves the concept that works?"
We were building
the application with the deadline.
At that one moment they told us they will
go to Korea to test the application.
They were worried about will this work.
To prove the concept that works, he had
people in-house to enter data manually.
I'm not sure you can count it as fake.
It was working but not scalable.
It's just a prototype.
[Ray] We put our whole technology team.
We took their focus off the real app
and made them
focus on building a fake app...
that would work in real-time
when Sorbee was going to Korea.
[interviewer] Why not have them
keep focusing on the real app?
I was just sitting there like,
"Oh shit, Korea."
[gentle music continues]
[Ray] I was not going to South Korea.
I don't really like
going into foreign territories
when, you know, you're not doing
something that's legitimate.
Sounds risky. [sighs]
We send Sorbee.
[Robert] He was like,
"Hold down the office. I'm out of here."
He just jumped on a flight
and went there by himself.
They don't have dick.
So they make an app
that charges your debit card
and makes it seem like
it's spending your crypto directly.
[Ray] We take that debit card.
We send it to a guy in California,
made it into a metal Centra Card.
Now we have this metal Centra Card
that when we swipe it,
it just takes money from our bank account.
We would just press a button
so that it presents as it's a real app
and it's working correctly.
So on our end, we just had to do
all those transactions behind the scenes.
So we're going to transfer
that value that you guys, you know...
[Ray] So now he's down in Korea.
...we're also going to...
[Ray] Now he has to do
a filmed presentation
in front of their team.
I believe that a partnership
with Centra Tech and Bitsset
will be powerful in the Asian market
as well as promotion
of cryptocurrencies worldwide.
[man in Korean]
When you search Centra on the internet,
many people say it's a scam.
Why do they think that?
And what are your thoughts
regarding the accusation?
[Sorbee in English] A lot of
the accusations came from competitors
that felt that our product was a threat.
The Centra Card is the world's
best cryptocurrency debit card.
These accusations are false.
It was pretty stressful. [chuckles]
[Ray] He was all excited.
He got his game face on.
Hyping him up though text messages,
"You got this, you're gonna kill it."
[Robert] This was his audition
to, like, lock in this company
and... and seal the deal.
[indistinct chatter]
When he's doing
the presentation with Bitsset...
[tense music playing]
...we press the button...
and it didn't correct on the app.
It didn't work at all.
Live performance in a foreign country.
[tense music continues]
I was sweating.
[Ray] And then we lost contact.
[Robert] We have no idea what's going on.
[Ray] What the fuck is going on?
[clock ticking]
Three hours pass, and we're in shock.
We're like, "Fuck."
[Robert] We're over here
hoping he makes it out alive.
Is he gonna be killed?
We thought he was dead.
[clock ticking]
[tense music intensifies]
[music fades]
he texts us.
[cellphone chimes]
"Yo. That shit didn't work."
"But, um, they're still gonna invest."
["Going Off" by P-Lo playing]
P-P-P-Lo, time to bring the bass back
Ayy, ouu-woo-woo-woo
Ayy, yeah
First off let me say...
That same day, they invested
another $15 million in our company.
Rep the coast but still it for the bay
Somehow he just talked them into being
complicit in this whole operation.
[exhales, laughs]
If you thinkin' that I need you
Never need one
[Ray] He tells us that, you know,
they're actually editing the video
to make it look like it worked.
I ain't got no time to hang
Like, I need cheese
If they're going to be down
and complicit in this whole thing,
fuck it, like, let it be.
Our new partners, Bitsset.
I'm just tryna get my point across
I'm going off
I'm going off
Three, two, one
I'm going off
I'm going off
[song ends]
[Popper] In a sense,
Centra was the story of crypto itself,
which is an endeavor
that has something real underneath it,
but keeps failing
and keeps running into problems.
And yet, people keep coming back to it.
There's something so alluring there
that people can't give up on the promise.
And... And part of that promise
is just the simple one
that you can get rich quickly.
[Ray] We had that ICO
at such a perfect time.
Everyday Ethereum was going up in price,
and every day they're investing
that Ethereum into Centra.
- [cash register dings]
- Boom. [laughs]
[car engine revving]
I could not have seen
a better life for me.
I never wanted that to stop.
[ethereal music playing]
[Popper] The strangest thing to me
is that neither of you
have any experience in blockchain.
How did you decide
to go into this business?
[Ray] Me and Sam have been, you know,
kind of little nerds since we were young.
You know, we always loved computers
and whatnot.
[Popper] I kept thinking
that once I started asking
harder questions,
they were gonna shut down and realize
this was not going to be good for them.
[popcorn popping]
And again, I think they actually started
to believe their own excuses.
[mellow music playing]
[keyboard clacking]
[Kerri] I was actually
at my mother's house.
And we all kind of read it
at the same time,
and we all said this is not good.
[Ray] I'm reading it,
and I was just, like, in disbelief.
At the time, I hoped no one's gonna
actually read the article.
[upbeat music playing]
[upbeat music ends]
- [somber music playing]
- [birds chirping]
[Jacob] I wrote an email to my lawyer.
I was like, "Did you see this?"
Right afterwards, I sold everything
because I knew that there was no more.
I took a considerable loss.
[Jacob sighs]
- Fuck.
- [dog whimpering]
[laptop closes]
[Ray] "A basic background check
would have turned out
the numerous run-ins with the law
the company president has had."
"The boxer's endorsement of Centra,
along with similar endorsement
from popular rapper DJ Khaled,
lent a patina of credibility to a project
that ended up
with more than a few problems,
including a chief executive who does not
appear to have been a real person,
and a shaky, fast-shifting business plan."
[Jonny] I remember him calling me,
and he was livid.
And he was like, "I'm gonna sue 'em."
I'm like, "You're gonna sue
the New York Times?"
And I was like, "Good luck, man."
"I don't think it's gonna work out
the way you think it is."
[Robert] The author was gonna write
a slander piece no matter what.
His whole mentality was,
anyone involved in crypto is a degenerate,
and they need to be exposed.
He just had his sights set on us.
[Ray] Farkas set up the whole article,
and I'm like,
"Did you not ask, like,
what they're writing about?"
You know, like, "You just agreed
to do this article and take pictures,
and fucking you didn't ask
what this article is about at all?"
Why didn't you ask what it was about?
He had already spoken
to the New York Times.
You know, he was the person that we had
put in charge of doing tests like that.
[Robert] Ray blames me
for not vetting him?
I don't think Ray remembers
where he was in 2017.
He was high as a kite.
[Ray] He's dumb, naive, all of the above.
He was just a yes-man, right?
He had no experience in any sort of thing
that required you to use your brain.
Fuck him.
I think just speaking to Ray
pissed him off even more
because he realized that
he's not a... a good guy.
[music fades]
[man] The New York Times article
was really important.
When things get
that kind of public attention,
and there's that big of a question
about whether something's real,
and when people
are raising a lot of money,
that makes the SEC interested.
There was an aspect
of Centra that was really brazen.
They were saying things that did not take
a lot of work to prove were not true,
like relationships
with credit card companies and banks.
Using photos of fake people
with fake biographies
and thinking that
that was going to work long term.
It's just hard to understand
how anyone would think that would work.
And maybe they were joking,
but to make up a story
that the CEO died in an accident...
that that would work,
it... it's just hard to imagine.
We are fully on board
with any regulatory bodies
to make sure everything's done correctly.
Centra's here to last for a long time.
We're doing everything we can by the book.
[Ray] Centra was completely
illegitimate nonsense at first.
But once we started
generating millions of dollars,
we saw that there was actually
a chance to go fully legit.
[Robert] We needed a good lawyer
to help us get there.
[phone ringing]
The main thing we had Eric Pope work on
was making sure
that Centracoins weren't securities.
Because we didn't want to be
in hot water with the SEC.
Our secretary got the mail,
and there was
a 500-page subpoena from the SEC.
We're a company that wants to comply, um,
with the laws and regulations
here in the United States.
That's when we hired
in-house counsel, Allan Shutt.
General Counsel and
Chief Compliance Officer at Centra Tech.
Allan Shutt started asking questions
about who our legal counsel was.
And we told him, "Hey, listen,
it's this guy Eric Pope
from Water Street in Manhattan."
[Ray] "Who has, like, 20 years
of business experience as a lawyer."
[Robert] "His website's beautiful.
He's quick on the phone. He's perfect."
And he said,
"Okay, I can't find his bar license."
"What do you mean?"
And he said, "This guy's a fraudster."
"What are you talking about?"
"It's a scam."
Eric Pope ended up being
a college kid from Virginia...
- Hey, are you going to the party later?
- [exhales]
- Uh... No.
- Okay.
[Robert]...named John Lambert.
[gun firing in video game]
I see Donald Trump
as reviving the Republican Party.
[Robert] And he was one of the founders
of Students for Trump.
[Ray] He was in college.
You know, we... we paid him.
And so we got finessed
by this young college kid
into believing
we were abiding by the SEC's rules.
[phone ringing]
Just take it off your website and abide by
the cease-and-desist, no problem.
You're a utility token.
Most companies start with a vision,
and they build it into a reality.
[Robert] All the emails he sent us
with the SEC were fake.
Everything was... was a lie.
It was, like, this young kid... [laughs]
Fucking maniac.
My partner thought it was a legit lawyer
the whole time he was talking to him,
and he basically scammed a company
that was already scamming.
- It was...
- [man] Double scamming.
- He was scamming the scammer, huh?
- Yeah, crazy.
[Cohen] The SEC will build
the foundation of the case,
and then the FBI and Department of Justice
sort of takes that foundation,
and then they go forward
on the criminal side.
[man] I read Nathaniel Popper's
New York Times article,
where there's a photo
of the three co-founders of Centra Tech.
And they're in these snazzy suits,
and they look very happy.
It's like giving a middle finger
to the FBI and saying, "Come get me."
There was rampant fraud
going on in this market.
Way, way too many cases.
We were just looking for what are
the most egregious examples of conduct,
where we need to send a...
a message to the market.
When you're sitting there as a prosecutor,
your first thought is,
"Maybe there's an explanation
for some of this."
"Maybe they did have a license."
"Maybe Mike Edwards is a real person."
[anchor] Basically,
he got compensation to promote
this initial coin offering
and didn't disclose it.
[Cohen] The SEC filed complaints
against DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather.
They had to give back the money
they'd been paid for these promotions.
They also paid penalties.
After that, Centra started taking actions
to try and hide things right away.
Money started going out of accounts.
And that really accelerated
everything coming apart.
- [interviewer] Were you nervous, man?
- Nah, nothing really fazed me at all.
I had so many...
Xanax makes you not really feel anything.
[Jacob] One day, I got messaged.
"Hey, do you know of Centra Tech?
We're gonna file a lawsuit."
I ended up contacting them and saying,
"Hey, listen, I collected all this data."
And I... I presented all the information.
And they said,
"Hey, you're the right guy."
"Would you represent
this class action lawsuit?"
I did accept the role
of becoming the lead plaintiff.
[dramatic music playing]
The SEC would eventually
use our information
from our lawsuit to take down Centra Tech.
[Cohen] The SEC worked together
with the Department of Justice
to put together a case so that the FBI
could go arrest these guys.
This was the first big,
high-profile fraud case
that the SEC brought
in the cryptocurrency world.
[Ray] When the SEC investigation
was going on...
me and Sorbee were fighting over debt
that we had made from Miami Exotics.
I go to Sorbee, and I'm like,
"Yo, we have to take, you know,
half a million dollars,
pay off all this debt
that I had sitting there."
I just wanted to pay that all off
because it was all in my family's name.
Let's take, you know $500,000 in Ethereum.
I'll cash it out,
pay all my family's debt
that we had built together.
Only fair.
I wanted it to come from Centra.
He says, "Yo, go fuck yourself."
I almost got in a fistfight
with him, like, in the office.
If Sorbee had paid that debt,
I swear I would have never fucked him.
I stepped down from the company.
I was like, "Fuck you."
I just started cashing out
millions of dollars in Centracoin myself.
I mean, it was bad.
You know, everything was crazy.
Bill, Pop, knew nothing about everything
that was going on, how bad it was.
[Kerri] He was very sick.
He was having chemotherapy.
He had brain surgery.
[music ends]
My father died in the middle of it.
[somber music playing]
[young Ray] Whoa, we're high.
Oh, that's awesome. Look at that.
[Pop] You like this?
[Kerri] He totally loved Ray.
You know, and he loved my father.
- [Pop] Say hello to Pop. Look at me.
- [Ray] Hello.
[Pop] Say, "Hello, Poparoo."
Ray was devastated.
[Ray] I'm going off on a bender.
[Kerri] He was in, like,
the height of addiction.
Yeah, I mean, it... I was fearful.
Taking Xanax like they were M&M's.
At that point, I was like,
"Fuck this company."
I'm gambling every day,
doing drugs every day.
And, you know, why work?
I don't have any more responsibility,
and I have all this money.
I'm playing a high-stakes poker game,
and Sorbee calls me.
[tense music playing]
And he tells me
he got arrested for security fraud.
You know,
I'm like, "I'm fucked," of course,
but, you know, I... I try to think positive.
I'm pretty good at compartmentalizing
and thinking positive in any given moment.
Before I left the casino that day,
I just took as many drugs
as possible to kind of make sure
if I'm getting arrested,
I'm gonna be high when I get arrested.
[sirens wailing]
[brakes screeching]
[Kerri] His attorney called me,
and she said, "You know, I have bad news."
"He's facing like 240 years
in federal prison."
Man, this is some scary stuff, you know?
I was terrified for him.
I didn't wanna lose my son.
Centra are accused of masterminding
a fraudulent initial coin offering,
that Centra offered a debit card it said
was backed by Visa and MasterCard.
But the SEC says that Centra
had no relationship with either company.
[Jacob] It felt good to know that justice
was gonna get served in some capacity.
[interviewer] Did you feel like
you had played a part in that?
Absolutely. SEC, Homeland Security,
they were using our case.
I was charged with security fraud,
conspiracy to commit security fraud,
wire fraud,
and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
And at that point,
I start, like, reaching out to my lawyers,
and I'm like, "What's going on here?"
They were like, "Well, what you can do
is you can cooperate if you want."
I tell my lawyer, I'm like, "I would 100%
cooperate, no problem, whatever it takes."
And I met with them to try to cooperate,
and they were like,
"You're... You can't even speak
you're on so many drugs."
"Like, how you gonna cooperate?"
And they sent me to rehab.
I've been to rehab 13 times.
But this time, you know, I was just like,
"You know what? Fuck it. I'm done."
Today is my sentencing for 11 felonies.
Facing over 100 years.
The biggest thing is to have the judge
believe you're not gonna do more crime.
The whole point of putting
someone in jail is to make it
so they don't commit more crimes
and hurt the, uh, the community,
or whatever the fuck they say.
[lawyer] So how is the baby?
[Ray] My wife is actually
in the hospital. [chuckles]
- [lawyer] No way, dude.
- Yeah, her water broke this morning.
- [lawyer] Oh my God.
- Yeah, I took her to the hospital.
[lawyer] Do you want to go
to the hospital?
- [Ray] I'm gonna go after.
- [lawyer] Is she going to make it?
Yeah, I mean, her water broke.
She thinks she's gonna be there all day,
but she doesn't want me... Like...
No one wants me to delay this court date.
She doesn't want me to.
[intriguing music playing]
Do I look like a criminal?
I met my wife
while I had an ankle bracelet on.
I felt like she was the one,
and I... I ran with it.
Like, within a month, she was pregnant.
It wasn't a planned thing.
Obviously, like, you know,
you're finishing in her,
so it's like, you know, you kind of know
that there's a possibility.
I got sober.
I cooperated with law enforcement.
I cooperated with the FBI, the SEC.
I gave them everything I know.
If you work with the FBI,
they work with you,
and... and you kind of, you know...
It just requires complete honesty.
I gave the FBI enough information
to be able to put Sorbee away
for eight years and Farkas away.
[somber music playing]
So this is the room
where Sam got sentenced...
on Zoom.
Sam was sitting right there.
His mother, his father, my whole family.
Eight years is...
It's fucked up.
[man] I think it was really drastic.
I don't agree with the sentencing
across the board in this case.
Farkas just didn't strike me as the type.
He was just sort of
a deer in the headlights.
I think his biggest mistake
was getting involved
and... and relying on...
on what he was being told.
But Ray Trapani...
Ray Trapani's a real criminal.
[Ray] The fact that I cooperated
means a lot.
So, you know,
I'm in hopes that I get less time.
[hopeful music playing]
You know, I am sorry for what I did.
It's always been very hard to find empathy
and these feelings towards people
that I've never really met.
I've always been like that.
I think that's something that I need
to build on myself and really get there,
where it's like I can feel for, you know,
Joe Schmo that's in China.
[music continues]
[woman] Mister Trapani,
I'm very much influenced
by the government's report
of your cooperation.
I'm not sure I've ever heard
the word "extraordinary"
used in connection with cooperation,
and now I've heard it multiple times
at every stage of the case,
from the investigation
to sentencing of your co-defendants.
So, Mister Trapani,
it is the judgment of the court
that you are sentenced
to a term of imprisonment of time served.
I really didn't want
to interrupt the path that you are on,
because you seem to be doing so well.
[suspenseful music playing]
- We did it. No jail time.
- [wife on phone]Yeah.
I love you so much. I'm so happy.
[Ray] I love you.
I'm coming now.
I'm coming straight to you then.
Yeah, hold out.
An hour and a half, I'll be there.
It's shocking to me, with his record
and as much of a scumbag
as he admits he is,
that he winds up with literally
the lowest sentence in this case.
Well, because he cooperated
with the government.
All of a sudden,
it puts an aura on somebody that somehow
justifies treating them differently.
[Ray] No time, bitch. [laughs]
[Kerri] Well, she loved you.
[lawyer] Comparing it to Sorbee's
is like night and day.
He's facing 175 years.
[Petrruzzi] With cooperators, when you
completely absolve them of everything,
and you reduce a sentence
from 20 years to zero,
are you sending any message at all?
You shouldn't commit crimes,
or just the next time
that you carjack somebody,
rat out the person that you did it with,
and you can go home.
He's a criminal through and through.
I can almost guarantee
that of the three people
that were prosecuted in this case,
the one most likely to wind up
in federal court again is Ray Trapani.
And it's not civil court either.
It'll be criminal.
[phone ringing]
Yeah. Oh my God.
- [lawyer] Oh.
- [Kerri] Aw.
Hey, babe. [laughs]
- How's he doing, babe?
- Where are you?
I'm, uh, about 20 minutes
to 30 minutes out.
All right, I'll be there soon.
- Okay.
- [Ray] Goodbye.
[Kerri] Aw.
[joyful music playing]
- [lawyer] Jeez, what a day, right?
- [Kerri chuckling]
A little fucking Liam.
[all laugh]
He wasn't even crying.
[joyful music continues]
[Liam crying]
[Robert] He's a degenerate.
The audacity of the government
to praise him as a good guy.
[interviewer] Ray Trapani just received
his sentencing last month.
- Oh?
- [interviewer] He got no time.
- Time... Time served.
- Really?
- Wow, that's incredible.
- [interviewer] Yeah.
That upsets me.
That upsets me.
- Can I walk now? I'm gonna...
- [interviewer] Okay, yeah.
[Jacob] Oh!
[door opens]
Oh man.
Do you think he's really changed?
I hope so, but that doesn't absolve him
from what he's done in his past.
That, you know, um...
And likely... And likely
there might be more funds out there
that he still has from other people.
You know? Um...
What happened with your money?
- We gotta stop that one.
- [interviewer] Yeah.
Now, Sorbee supposedly ha...
You know, before he got arrested,
they were saying
that he has a whole new fleet of cars.
I told the FBI that there's
more money out there, you know.
It's up to them to find it.
[somber music playing]
- [interviewer] You're buying a house?
- [Ray] Yeah.
- [interviewer] How are you buying a house?
- [Ray] Money.
- That's usually how it goes.
- [interviewer] Yeah.
How do you have money to pay for
the house? How's he buying a house?
Ray? Ask him. I don't know.
[interviewer] How did Ray buy a house?
Ray bought a house...
His... His, um, father-in-law co-signed
with his wife, yeah.
I don't know any single person
sub-40 buying a house.
They're all just... They get a "good job,"
and they're just working, fucking,
and living in an apartment
for their whole life.
[interviewer] You never know.
Like, all of a sudden there's a house.
Why are you telling me that now? Because...
[interviewer] I'm just...
I'm just curious, like...
There's no locked, uh, millions of dollars
in crypto hidden anywhere?
I wish there was
because I would cash it all out,
and I would move somewhere
away from this crazy country.
[Ray] Like, our parents, they were able
to buy a house for like 20 grand,
keep it forever, and now they're
millionaires. It's fucking ridiculous.
[Kerri] I said it from the very beginning.
If you make him look like a scumbag,
I'm really gonna be pissed.
Because I... I swear to God,
you'll be in big trouble.
I'm not kidding.
[interviewer] How do people trust
that Ray doesn't have money
or Sorbee doesn't have money?
[Kerri] Sorbee definitely has money.
You're gonna tell me
that when all this money was made
that he didn't hide it somewhere?
And that he knows
when he gets out in eight years
that he's gonna be perfectly fine?
Why do you think
his girlfriend's staying with him?
You think that there's...
there's nothing there?
She just loves him so much?
I'm not saying she doesn't love him.
I don't know if she loves him or not.
There's no way that Sorbee
does not have money put somewhere.
You say the only way to buy a house
is to do something shady
or to get help from someone...
- Yeah.
- [interviewer] You're buying a house.
Which one did you do?
I did something shady, clearly.
My fucking whole story is shady shit.
You know.
["Everybody Knows"
by Leonard Cohen playing]
Everybody knows
That the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls
With their fingers crossed
Once they got their 100,000 Ethereum,
they kept it.
Was it really about the "victims,"
or was it about their headlines,
their promotions, their pockets?
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor
The rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows
[chuckling] We didn't get
our last payment.
Ten months of intensive work.
Yeah, no money on Centra.
[Popper] The basic idea
behind cryptocurrencies
was really that you shouldn't have
to trust these banks anymore.
You shouldn't have to trust Wall Street.
You don't need to trust
any of these institutions.
The sort of grand irony is
it created a new financial system
that has basically taught everybody
that they can trust nobody.
And a long-stem rose
Everybody knows
Everybody knows
That you love me, baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows
That you've been faithful
My entrepreneurial spirit
won't get dimmed down by my 12 felonies.
Everybody knows you've been discreet
But there were so many people
You just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows
[song ends]
[solemn music playing]
[music ends]