Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King (2022) Movie Script

I never knew who Gerry was.
My name is Gerald Cotten,
and I'm the founder of QuadrigaCX.
And I actually
didn't need to know who Gerry was.
When you're conducting
business across the Internet,
you're putting your trust in
this little kind ofveneer of the website.
It's a bunch of HTML pages
cobbled together with string and tape.
Strip the veneer away and you
realize how actually fragile that is
and that actually
behind that website are real people.
And it's those people
that you need to trust.
This is a real mystery
that's unfoldingthis morning,
and it all has to do
with thedeath of Gerald Cotten,
along with
the disappearanceof $250 million.
Where is this money?
About 110,000 customer accounts.
This was all my money,
my life savings,everything.
It puts this whole
Bitcoin world in thecrosshairs.
There's some people suggesting
that maybehe's not dead.
Allegedly, Gerry faked
his own death and ran off with the money.
He was now in hiding and had had
his face modified by aplastic surgeon.
He could be a citizen of 20 countries
under 20 different faces
and 20 differentnames.
Okay, now scan the QR code...
He doesn't come off
as a sophisticated criminal mastermind.
There were
so many different pieces to the story.
So many questions.
We need to get
to the bottom of this.
It turned into a shit tornado
of catastrophic proportions.
Either I know a guy who screwed up
and lost a quarter billion,
or I know a guy who pulled off one
of the greatest crimes in history.
Bitcoin can change the world.
That's my belief.
I believethat Gerry
thought the same thing.
Bitcoin is counterculture.
There's an element of rebellion to it,
and in thatregard, you could say, uh,
there's a bit of rock and roll
going on to Bitcoin.
But a lot of crypto people
either are paranoid
or specifically distrust people.
Trust is not common in my industry.
I bet a lot of them
did not agree to do this.
There's only so much time
to, uh, exercise
when you're living the crypto life,
so you do what you can.
Me, I'm, u...
I'm really, like, a number guy.
I don't do words. I do numbers.
Yeah, I definitely trust technology
more than I do people.
That's awesome.
When I first heard about Bitcoin,
it was, like, early 2013.
I'd found the localcommunity here.
Uh, we were just meeting
in restaurants once a week
and justtalking about Bitcoin.
You know, thesame
eight to 12 people everytime.
It was through the Bitcoin co-op
and community that I met Gerry Cotten.
Gerald, starting with you.
- Yes.
- What's your story?
You were born. Now you're here.
What happened in between?
Gerry came across
friendly, positive,upbeat.
He always laughed.
Like, I don't know
what Gerry would look like angry.
Gerry's stuck in the maze.
Everyone that was part of that scene
at the time was definitely very nerdy.
I wouldn't describe any of us
as reallyfitting in anywhere.
Everyone has a thing they're a nerd
about, and they just like that thing.
I think it's all right.
It seems like Gerry's was business.
Bitcoin is a digital currency.
It's basically like you have cash,
but itexists only in digital form.
Gerry was an incredibly charming,
very smart promoter of the technology.
The Bitcoin community
is trying to move away
from the traditional forms of currency
and into this modern, digital currency,
which doesn't have thebureaucracy
of the banks.
Smart, um, and knew it.
But one of the hardest parts
was acquiring the Bitcoin.
Especially in Canada.
So I createdQuadrigaCX in 2013
for buying and sellingBitcoin.
So for those who aren't familiar
with Bitcoin exchanges and what we do,
I like to compare it to a stock exchange.
However, instead of trading stocks
in our exchange, people trade Bitcoin.
In its simplest form,
a cryptocurrency exchange is
something that would allowyou to exchange
between Bitcoin and dollars,
dollars and Bitcoin.
And they make money by taking a fee
for each
of those trades that they process.
The Bitcoin Club
had just been going torestaurants
and just trying to find a place
to let us sit and talk aboutBitcoin.
When the Quadriga office opened,
Gerry kind of invited us all in, um,
the whole community, and he said,
"You can just come here and hang out."
"This can be
the place we talk about Bitcoin."
You know, people had really high hopes
Quadriga would help legitimize Bitcoin.
I see it as a pivotal moment
in the Bitcoin space.
It's basically a new chapter as we move
towards the mainstreamfinancial industry.
We were at the meetup having Bitcoin beers
when, uh, someone said,
"Guys, checkthe Bitcoin price."
It is the hottest currency in the world.
Bitcoin's value has skyrocketed.
The chart looks like the left-hand side
of an Eiffel Tower.
And we all took out our phones
and startedyelling like, "Oh my God!"
"Guys, look. Oh my God! Look at it go."
Bitcoin's value reached $11,000.
The new currency is making
a lot ofpeople rich.
Ten years ago, it didn't even exist.
I have to say
I'm feeling a bit of FOMO here.
Bitcoin went from relative obscurity
to front page news.
Bitcoin is becoming mainstream.
Every bar I go into,
the bartender wantsto talk about Bitcoin.
When Quadriga was founded in 2013,
when Bitcoin was only worth $100,
if you fast-forward all the way
to near the endof 2017,
we had our, uh, touch of $20,000 Bitcoin.
People would say, "Where should I get
Bitcoin?" I would say, "QuadrigaCX."
Introducing QuadrigaCX...
If you had an interest in Bitcoin and were
in Canada, you'd heard of Quadriga.
When we began,
we were a relatively small company,
trading just a few Bitcoinsevery day.
However, over the past year,
we've grown to become
the largest exchange in the country.
Every time there's a wave of adoption,
it's good and bad.
You get a few new believers
and a whole lot
of new people trying to get rich.
Hi, everyone. My name's Tong,
and I'm a Chinese Canadian,
and welcome to myYouTube channel.
On my YouTube channel, there's a lot
of different types ofvideos.
And I hope you enjoy watching them
as much as I enjoy making them.
And, uh, thanks for watching.
I was in San Francisco.
You know,I'm a software engineer.
Even thoughsoftware engineers
make good salaries inSan Francisco,
after working withvirtually no stop
for the past, um, seven, eight years,
I wanted to quit.
Travel or do something like that.
A lot of my friends made a lot of money
on cryptocurrency.
They were making hundreds
of thousands of dollars at the time.
Oh my gosh. Look at this thing!
In 2011, I bought Bitcoin at $2.52.
And so, technically,
this Lamborghini onlycost me about $115.
So I was like,
"Okay, I gotta get somemoney too,"
so I just took out three loans.
It was about $85,000 in total.
And I put it all
into differentcryptocurrencies.
Nobody has the patience
to wanna get rich slow.
I wanted to keep up with myfriends.
Yeah, that's good.
As of now, Canada's approximately
one percent of the global trading volume.
So as we expand globally,
we'll be able to grow and
our profits will increase dramatically.
And let me paint the picture.
Mr. Cotten looks probably exactly what you
think an Internet genius would look like.
A young, attractive man.
So, yeah, yeah, he's exactly
what you picture in your mind.
How many coins
did you buy at a time likethis?
Oh, like, a hundred.
It was very profitable. And...
Are we hanging out with Mark
Zuckerberg? Is that what's going on?
In 2017, they did so well,
like, everything's falling in your lap.
Um, probably millions. No, not probably.
Definitely tens of millions.
He was buying a plane.
Buying a boat.
A little island, too, apparently.
He started acquiring properties.
And had been recently married.
Here we go.
He was not flashy when he was here.
He was
a button-down shirt, jeans type of guy.
- Now he was living the high life.
- ...away!
Traveling around the world
and was living a digital nomad lifestyle.
And just working from wherever he was,
which was fantastic.
Bitcoin rose and rose and rose.
And ultimately, it crashed.
And, uh,
I think that was the beginning
of troubles at QuadrigaCX.
The Bitcoin roller coaster
continues to beon a wild ride tonight.
The cryptocurrency has gone
from hitting a newrecord price yesterday
to nose-diving today.
The market started crashing.
Bitcoin andall the other cryptocurrencies
started to drop down.
Bitcoin took a serious tumble.
It's now down almost 50%.
By December 2018, by the end of the year,
I think Bitcoin was around $4,000 US.
People who thought they were wealthy
will suddenly become bankrupt overnight.
In just 24 hours,
more than $60 billion
was wiped offthe value
of the entirecryptocurrency market.
What's causing this crash?
Usually, it isn't really easy to tell.
There are different factors.
But for once,
this time, it's very clearwhat it was.
China and South Korea
wants to ban Bitcoin trading.
And that was enough to really drive
down the price of these cryptocurrencies.
I had a lot of debt
because I took out$85,000 in loans.
I was down maybe 70, 80% on that.
The interest
was really high on theseloans,
and I was paying my mortgage.
It was a very stressful situation.
My relationships with everyone,
everything was souring because of it.
The only thing I could think of
at thetime was to sell my apartment
to get out of that debt.
Of course, I had to pay off
the personal loans I took out
and then the mini-mortgage.
After all that, I hadabout $400,000.
I decided to move this $400,000
back to Canada.
You don't wanna use the bank,
because the bank will take 2% commission.
So 2% commission on $400,000
you canalready guess is a lot of money.
I thought maybe I can use crypto to do it.
I noticed that Quadriga had a 10% premium
on there when... when selling yourBitcoin.
You can actually make some money
transferring to Quadriga.
So that's what I did.
You'll never have trouble
moving funds
into and out of your QuadrigaCX account.
So I transferred $400,000 worth
of Bitcoin over to Quadriga.
And I immediately sold it.
I immediately tried to transfer it out.
I bought in US dollars, but after selling
in Quadriga, it becomes Canadian dollars.
So I had a $500,000 Canadian withdrawal.
And I remember it taking a long time.
Kept waiting and nothing happened.
I started to get worried a little bit.
This was all my money, my life savings,
everything, in this one exchange,
I was praying every day,
hoping I would get mymoney soon.
I always wanted
to be an investigativereporter,
sort of focused on businessspecifically.
It definitely feels like
you're a little bit of a detective.
In the fall, 2018,
I started gettingtons and tons of emails
from just randomQuadriga users saying,
"I can't get my money out,"
which seemed a bit strange.
During the sort of boom,
millions and millions of dollars
from hundreds of users
started flooding in to Quadriga.
According to some data that we got,
$1.2 billion was transacted
through Quadriga thatyear,
and Quadriga was making moneyoff
of all of these transactions.
I reached out to Quadriga.
I emailed Gerry,and I said,
"Hey, you know, I'm reporting
a story for The Globe and Mail."
"Users are saying
they can't get money outof the exchange."
And "Can you tell me what's going on?"
He told me the reason that we can't
process all these withdrawal requests
is that the bank
has literally frozen our money,
because they don't trust
cryptocurrency exchanges.
He said, "We have $26 million
sitting in these bank accounts,
so really it's the bank's fault
people can't get their money out."
It seemed like a plausible enough
explanation, and he was very charming.
He said, "Can you tell me who these people
who are having issues getting money out
because I'd love
to clear it up with them."
He seemed like a very nice guy.
I started my withdrawal request
around late October.
I waited. November 2018.
Still nothing.
By the end of December,
I still haven'treceived anything.
I emailed the support.
They kept saying the same thing.
"Gonna take one more week,
two more weeks."
"We'll get this resolved
and figure it out."
Of course, I was getting
more and morefrustrated.
This went on into 2019.
I started to panic.
This was my... my entire savings built
through, you know, ten years of work
and selling my apartment.
And I just prayed to God.
Around that time,
Gerry wastraveling alot,
so I would message him,
and I would get back,
"Hey, I'm in Costa Rica,"
or "I'm in Iceland."
But those were always followed
with a "don't mention
to anyone where I am," um,
which was strange.
Maybe that wasn't just his working
from wherever he wanted to be.
Maybe that was him
avoiding something or someone.
I had no idea what was about to unfold.
Kept waiting and nothing happened.
It was like this until January 14th.
I remember the exact date,
because January 14th
is when everything kind of blew up.
Canada's largest
cryptocurrency exchange is in hot water.
Scott is here to help us unravel
what weknow so far.
- Scott.
- Yeah.
This is a real mystery
that's unfolding this morning,
and it all has to do
with the death of the CEO.
Here he is here, Gerald Cotten.
He's thefounder of QuadrigaCX.
The wife of Gerry Cotten,
Jennifer Robertson, said he died suddenly
while inIndia at the age of just 30.
I was sort of shocked.
I thought, "Whatwas he doing in India?"
Oh, man.
I felt
very nervous.
- And this is an evolving story.
- Well, keep an eye on that for us if you...
It just was,
like, a real shocker. Um...
He must have been doing great
with the Bitcoin and his business.
And then just one day he was gone. Um...
Um, just... You always expect you're gonna
see someone again that you know,
and just one day you find out you won't.
I was shocked.
And I was... I was reallytaken aback.
I was very sad.
And he was so young.
My editor said,
you know, "Keep an eye onit."
And then shortly after,
the exchange suddenly stopped working.
And then Quadriga posted
a notice sayingthat no one knew
how to access the cryptocurrency.
And that's when I kind of realized
that Gerry was the only guy
who knew all the passwords
into the cryptocurrency.
At that point, the story just goes nuts.
This is an astonishing story.
Gerald Cotten passed away,
and he took the passwords with him.
And that means $190 million
of customers' holdings are locked inside,
and no one can access them.
And I think it was at that point,
I waslike, "Oh. Oh, crap."
I felt like I was having a heart attack.
It felt like there was
this pressure on my chest.
I... I wanted, just like everyone else,
to get our money.
It didn't seem real
that this washappening to me. Um...
Right. This... It can't be, 'cause...
People question every story.
People are suspicious,
especially when money is involved.
Especially when their money isinvolved.
Usually if you're running
a cryptocurrency company or an exchange,
you have safeguards in place, right?
So that if you do die
or something happens to you,
someone, you know, knows how to accessit.
It's like, it just didn't make sense.
My initial reaction is, "Bullshit."
"This is bullshit."
I'm an AI consultant.
I quit my day job,
was going to start my own company.
I decided to use Quadriga to try
to make money till my company takesoff.
I put around $70,000 in there.
And then, um,
Quadriga did not honor the withdrawal.
And that's when I saw the statement
from Jennifer Robertson,
wife and partner ofGerald Cotten.
"Gerry died due to complications
of Crohn's disease
on December9, 2018,
while traveling in India
where he was opening an orphanage
for children in need."
"Sincerely, Jennifer Robertson,
Estate Executor of Gerald Cotten."
The India, the orphanage.
I'm like, "Gimme a break."
Gerry died on December 9th.
The date theyannounced it, January 14th.
To come out and make a statement
a monthafter hisdeath...
sounds wrong.
This is not right.Something is off.
Hey, guys. How's it going?
Um, so I just wanna give an update,
um, about mysituation right now.
Like, who could havepredicted
that a CEO would diemysteriously
under mysteriouscircumstances in India?
You know, he was the only one that had
the keys to the wallet,
but who can you really believe?
It's... it's a really depressing
and shocking thing to happen.
The next stepsis to, um...
Of course I was angry.
I wanted to find out
if there was an active community
I could chat with about this.
So I looked on Telegram,
because Telegram is actually
what I used for a lot of crypto groups.
Tried to search for Quadriga.
So there was this main
Quadriga Telegramgroup,
QuadrigaUncovered, that had
a lot of other affected users on it.
A lot of people just wanted answers.
What happened to our money?
What happened to Gerry Cotten?
No one was out there to help us.
We were on our own, basically.
It was chaos, right?
It was like a bunch of people.
Some are, like me,
looking for their money.
Some justtrolling.
But there's also a person named QCXINT.
He sort of brought in
this spirit of investigation.
He's the old, wise man
on top of the hillthat we go to.
I'm not sure what I can reveal
about his investigation or not.
'Cause I'm just always, like, worried
that he's gonna yell at me
for saying too much.
One of the things
that you often have topractice
when you get into crypto is good "op sec."
Short for "operational security."
Crypto is fairly unregulated.
You have to be
extremely, extremely careful
when you're dealing with large sums.
Some individuals, they have
actually been attacked and then tortured
to give up their keys
and things like that.
And that's part of the reason why
I like to remain anonymous.
I'd been trading on Quadriga
in kind of dribs and drabs in 2018,
but unfortunately, over time,
it kind ofaccumulated to the point
where I probably
had more fundsin the exchange
than I was strictly comfortable with.
Um, you know, so, at the end of the day,
when Quadriga went down,
that was a significant sum.
That was, you know,
north of six figures, top sum.
So I guess
being personally involvedwith this story,
I was highly incentivized
to findout what had happened.
There's this explosion
of interest into the circumstances
of Gerry's death inIndia.
We just started investigating
what mighthave happened.
Everything is turned over.
Everything is looked at.
And we were all looking
at his Instagram account.
Looking at his wife
Jennifer's Instagram account.
Looking at their travel photos.
Looking for any little tidbit
of information.
So we start looking into Crohn's disease
and whether or not this was actually
something that you could die from.
I sort of started Googling it.
From whatI gathered,
it's a form of stomachsickness.
You get diarrhea.
Certain food
could trigger it more than other food.
People don't die
from Crohn's disease,
especially at a young age.
Then the death certificate
starts circulating around.
It was originally sourced by reporters.
And it had misspelled his last name.
C-O-T-T-A-N instead of C-O-T-T-E-N.
What is interesting
is that there is a market
for kind of fake death certificates.
Such things do exist.
And then I spoke to someone
that knewGerry personally.
He shared some info with me.
He sent me a screenshot
of Gerry's Skype profile,
and it showed that Gerry's
Skype cam was active after his death.
What the fuck?
I guess you could call it red flags.
To me, this looks like
Gerry was still alive.
I think myself,
like a lot of other people,
immediately thought
that this might be anexit scam
and that he hadn't died,
that he had almost definitely
faked his own death
and that he'd actually
run offwith the crypto
and was kind of hiding
on an island somewhere.
I'm not convinced he's dead.
What do you guys think?
Do you think he is dead?
My spider senses, not, no, nope.
Mm-mm. Mm-mm.
This guy is not dead.
He faked it.
I started working on this story
with another Globe And Mail reporter
named Joe Castaldo.
If somebody fakes their own death,
that is just an amazing story.
And there'sprecedent for it too.
Now to the strange case
of hedge fund swindler Samuel Israel.
Last week, it appeared
he might have killed himself
rather than serve
a long stretch in prison.
But tonight, federal authorities
think hestaged the whole thing.
This US hedge fund manager,
he left his car on a bridge,
and I think wrote in the dust on his hood
or something like "suicide is painless"
to make it look like he jumped.
But in fact,
he turned himself in a month later.
I was thinking of that story
when thishappened with Gerry.
Well, it's happened before.
It could happen again.
It seemed like something
out of a moviescript,
but you know, you have to ask yourself,
"Is Gerry capable
of pulling off an exit scam?"
I guess when I think of somebody
who's a criminal mastermind,
who's devious, calculating, cunning...
what we don't think of
is a slightly geeky 24-year-old.
Charizard has chosen
to useBursting Inferno.
Burning Pokemon cards.
And, um, melting money in a microwave.
We'll put it in there for a minute.
It looks like it's melting.
Looking at some of this material,
you don't think,
"Well, this is a criminalmastermind."
He would've needed help.
Husbands and wives tend
to tell eachother nearly everything.
Oh, can I talk about Jen now?
His wife, Jennifer Robertson,
was theonly other person with him
when he supposedly died.
Being the person seemingly
in controlof the exchange at that point...
Naturally, the group
starts looking into her.
Who is she? Is she even real, right?
People who knew him didn't
even really know about Jennifer,
that they weretogether.
And I found that just a little strange.
I did not know he had a wife,
um, or how long they were together.
I'm not sure if he was, uh, dating her
back when he was in Vancouver
or if he had met herafter the fact.
Okay, where am I supposed to sit?
I don't... I can't have those.
If someone had said to you,
"Gerry's acriminal mastermind."
"This is the kind of guy he is."
What would you say to them?
I would have told them to fuck off.
Drop dead. Just get away from me.
Like, I justcan't... I can't...
It enrages me.
I really just want
to be an advocatefor my sister,
because none of us have said anything.
Her lawyers kept saying not to.
Jenny had nobody,
and I just have a lotthat I wanna say.
She's beautiful. She's funny.
She's always happy.
Um, well, was.
The last time that I saw Gerry,
he wascalm, cool, collected.
Uh, I would say I've got
great intuition about people'smoods.
He loved Jenny.
He wasn't trying to be
the guy on a beach faking his death.
Doesn't make sense.
She met Gerry on Tinder,
and he happened to be the very
first person that sheswiped right on.
That was,
you know, just before Christmas, 2014.
At first,
she didn't thinkthat he washer type.
He was kind of introverted,
and, uh, we're kind of loud.
But my whole family truly loved Gerry.
You know,
once he got used to us, he was funny
and... and he made jokes and he was lively.
She was over the moon.
He seemed to be so romantic
and very thoughtful.
But he really
was kind of the Prince Charming.
They were meant to be together.
They truly were, you know, soul mates.
All ofit just kind of clicked for them.
It wasjust really
the way he looked at her allthe time.
He loved her. You could feel it.
And one of the things
that he hadsaid to her was
that she had taught himhow to love,
that he didn't even know
that those feelings were possible.
I'd never heard of Reddit.
But I'd heard about it from Jenny,
'cause, of course,
it was really upsetting her.
Jenny would read everything.
'Cause, in her grief,
she was trying to hold on toGerry,
she read anything
and everything about him.
At first, there was a lot of nice stuff,
but then it became alittle dark.
And getting darker and darker.
There was a Reddit post
that caughteveryone's attention.
It's purportedly
from a contractor called QCXContractor.
And he's doing an AMA on Reddit.
Now, an AMA is short for
"ask me anything."
So, for the first time,
we've actually got someone inside Quadriga
and is doing a little bit
of an anonymous leak.
You know, one of the things they said
was that they were at the funeral.
I started asking
questions about the funeral.
Whether the casket was open or not.
Again, um, not sure whether there was
an actual dead body in there or not.
No, I did not see the body.
- Did Jen see the body?
- Yes.
The contractor
said she was "fake grieving."
Very, very strange behavior for a widow
who just lost her husband.
It didn't seem like
she had much to be happyfor then.
But she's dancing
at her husband's funeral.
Seems weird. Seemslike something's up.
It just didn't look like he really died.
I reached out
to this QCXContractor on Telegram.
Then I was able to confirm that
they were in fact a Quadriga employee.
What he told me was that there'd
been some kind of confrontation
between Jennifer and Gerry's parents.
It was difficult to have them there.
We're East Coast.
Got a lot of Celticheritage.
We had an Irish wake.
There was a lot of food.
There was a lot of alcohol,
and, unfortunately,
Gerry's parents didn't like that.
It basically led to them being
thrown out of the house after the funeral,
where I believe Gerry's parents
were meant to be staying the night.
Something major has gone down,
to thepoint
where she's told themto get out
and that she doesn't need them anymore.
There was
all of this speculation around
whether she was, like, in on it.
We wanted to see what we could learn
about her involvement in Quadriga.
The story that Gerry was the only one
who knew how to access
Quadriga's crypto funds came from Jen.
Following Gerry's death,
she scouredtheir apartment looking
for passwords to get into his laptop.
She couldn't find it anywhere.
After Gerry's death,
Quadriga filed forcreditor protection.
Creditor protection
is grantedto companies
when they run into financial trouble.
Included in the court filings
was an affidavit from Jennifer Robertson.
Jennifer goes on to basically say
she didn't really know anything
about how thecompany operated
and that Gerry had been running
this company entirely on his own.
I was a little bit in disbelief.
I mean,
during all of their travels together,
he never once told her anything
about howQuadriga was operated?
Like, that didn't make sense to me.
Then we discovered
these Quadriga users
who had bank transfers
that had come tothem through
this property management company
that she was running.
This would directly contradict
Jennifer's statement
on her affidavit saying thatshe wasn't
involved with QuadrigaCX in any way.
If she lied in her affidavit,
she could've lied about any other things.
I saw that, and I was wondering,
"Well, what's going on here?"
I asked her lawyer about it,
who just didn't comment.
And, uh, I don't think we ever got
an officialanswer to that question.
I'm sure that the lawyer said,
"We don'tneed
to say anything about that."
I don'tknow.
Right? So were some things omitted?
Yeah. On purpose? I don't know.
Oversight? Could been.
My sister's not a liar.
I... I started to believe that
Jennifer Robertson was kind of in on this.
Are they just playing the long game?
She's playing the part
of the gullible wife.
She knows that there's gonna
be heat for the next three years,
and then, at some point,
she's gonna nick off
and, you know, meet him in an island
in theCaribbean somewhere.
We've got a lot
of what's kind ofcircumstantial evidence
that this couldbe an exit scam.
Problem is we kind of don't have a way
to indisputably prove that just yet.
So the news first broke
in February of2019.
And I was like, "I'm sorry. What?"
Like, the founder died and then he was
the only one that had access to the keys?
Like, what?
I immediately was questioning
everything about the story.
I'd suspected
that the money might bemoving,
which would make their entire
sort of point moot, right?
'Cause their whole claim was that he died
and he was the only one with the keys.
Um, but if money had moved
after his death, then that would be a lie.
The whole purpose of Bitcoin is,
like, everything's verifiable by everyone.
Bitcoin is backed by underlying technology
called the blockchain.
There are websites that have
sort ofvisualizations of the blockchain.
But thesimplest way to think about it is
like a digital ledger.
Like a spreadsheet.
Every single computer
is ableto see the transactions
to verify that the transactions are valid
and then to verify, like,
the whole history oftransactions.
And you can just
follow the moneywherever it goes.
What an exchange will do
is have5% or10% of all of the money
that they're holding in a hot wallet,
and the rest is cold.
And a cold wallet is an offlinewallet.
The hot wallet is like yourcheckbook
or your debit card.
And the cold wallet is, like, the vault.
I knew a couple of Quadriga's
cold walletaddresses on the blockchain.
And so I started there.
I spent the next couple of weeks
parsing a huge number of transactions.
I was expecting either see a balance
of, like, $100 million or something,
or to very quickly see a transfer
of 10million, 100 million.
Some big sum of money.
with the Quadriga addresses,
I didn't ever find this pile of money.
If you don't see the money leave
or go anywhere,
the question is just like,
"Well, where did the money go?"
The money's just...
I don't know.
Once I determined that there
was no money in the cold storage,
that's when I stopped believing
that he was dead.
Finding out that this whole story
about the keys to the cold wallet
being essentially a bit
of a wild goose chase is sickening.
We were scared
that Jenny would beimplicated in it.
Because of the amount of money,
my brother and I were starting to worry
that she might have to go to jail.
Like, we aren't people that go tojail.
We're not criminals.
You know, we kind of know somebody
who knows somebody who might
have did something kind of sort of bad,
but that was the... the worry.
We were afraid for her.
It's certainly starting
to look like fraudor embezzlement.
But, you know, the... the hopes
of finding a five-foot something,
slightly ginger-toned Caucasian Gerry
seemed to be very slim.
We... we knew he was mischievous.
We knewthat.
This video confirms
that a walnut can indeed be lit on fire.
I bet you he's good
at laying low, at being quiet.
I think these are all things
Gerry is good at.
He could be a citizen
of 20 countries
under 20 different faces
and 20 different names.
And then this sort of rumor
started circulating online
that the money had been moved to Bermuda.
And that there was this plastic surgeon
there who had operated on Gerry
to change his face
so that he couldcontinue to live
withoutbeing recognizable.
I called the RCMP,
which is equivalent of FBI for Canada.
And I said, "Look, there's this guy
who I think is alive,
leaving the country
with millions of dollars of our money,
and I need you guys
to sort of investigate,"
and she said, "Well, if they leave,
they leave. That's fine."
"We can try to catch 'em later."
Right? Casually.
Right? It was borderline insulting.
The Ontario Securities Commission,
also known as the OSC,
is responsible
for regulating financial markets
in theCanadian province of Ontario.
Our mandate was
to find out where the money went.
And therefore the enforcement branch
of the OSC decided
to open an investigation.
In the first two years of operations,
Quadriga had accountants,
lawyers on staff,
and therefore there are some
records for that time period.
However, after 2016,
there's a general absence of records
that you would normally expect
to see in a business.
If you do not have access to records,
it simply complicates your work.
However, working as a forensic accountant,
I expect my work to becomplicated.
We came across something
that caused usgreat concern.
Throughout the life of Quadriga,
large volumes
of crypto assets were beingsent
to other crypto asset exchanges
located abroad.
What the fuck is going on?
That's not normal, uh, at all.
Why would an exchange
be sending directly to another exchange?
The answer's not usually a good one.
They had to be, like,
trying to hide something.
Maybe, like, trying to launder money?
In the world of money laundering,
there can be
some quite bad people involved.
Organized crime,
Russian mobsters,you know, you name it.
did Gerry find himself
in something that was too deep?
Like, if you're laundering money
for themob, you're scared of the mob.
You're notscared of the cops.
If we were
to uncover where the money had gone,
we would have to dig very deep
and look into every aspect
of the exchange.
Certainly, the conventional narrative was
that Gerry was the founder of Quadriga
and the CEO and that he was in control.
Um, but one
of the interesting things I found
was the original QuadrigaCX domain name...
had actually been registered not by Gerry.
Uh, it'd been registered by someone else.
This individual known as MichaelPatryn.
He definitely was an important individual
in the founding origins of Quadriga.
So I started to dig around
and look intohim a little bit more.
law enforcement officials in both Canada,
where QuadrigaCX is located,
and in the United States,
are investigating potential wrongdoing...
Are you comfortable
talking about him, Andrew?
What would you like to know?
When we first met Mike and Gerry,
it wasMike that presented himself
as thefounder of QuadrigaCX.
And Gerry kind oftagged along.
Our guest tonight is
Michael Patryn from, uh, Quadriga.
Why don't you tell us
a bit about yourself?
Sure. I've been working
with digitalcurrency since about 2003.
I've operated numerous exchanges,
emerging platforms, casinos,
provided advisory services
with respectto growth anddevelopment
of other such companies.
It did always seem
as though Mike wasin charge.
Mike was muscular and an amateurUFC guy.
First time I met Gerry was
in Mike's fancy car.
And Mike was doing all thetalking.
Gerry would laugh at his jokes
when they weren't funny.
That's... That's key.
And that was kind of
what really immediately made me see them
in a power imbalance
in their relationship.
There were definitely a lot of rumors
about Mike going around.
I think thatGerry,
he should be afraid of Mike.
I wouldbe.
People who knew Patryn
were reluctantto talk about him.
They were afraid of him.
There were all these posts
on theInternet, mostly on Reddit,
connecting him with
this other guy named OmarDhanani.
So these posts were essentially alleging
that Michael Patryn
was hiding thiscriminal past,
that he had once lived
in California under the name Omar Dhanani
and that he had been involved
in a moneylaundering service
for an identity theft ring
called Shadowcrew,
an online marketplace
for trafficking in stolen identities
and stolen credit card information.
This is a bit of a bombshell,
but, you know, a few forum posts
don't necessarilyprove a point.
We needed proof.
We figure, "Okay, we can get
the mug shotsfor Omar Dhanani
and see if it's the same person."
About a week later,
they arrived in my email.
I remember sitting with Alex
and an editor in The Globe office,
and the editor is studying
these photos of Dhanani...
and Patryn.
It's going, like, back and forth closely.
And he notices a pockmark
on Dhanani's forehead...
and how Michael Patryn has
a pockmark in the exact same spot.
Michael Patryn is definitely Omar Dhanani.
If I would've known that, I would've
never, ever put my money in Quadriga.
This is crazy.
I just thought, "Well, this is
another thread in the rabbit hole."
"How deep can it go?"
When you find one
of the founders hasthis criminal past,
that person becomes suspect number one.
In February 2019,
when Quadriga ceased operating,
it owed its users cash
and cryptocurrencies
at a combined value of$215 million.
However, we were only able to identify
approximately $46 million worth of assets,
leaving an unexplained shortfall
of approximately $169 million.
And that didn't make sense...
It is the hottest currency in the world.
...because in 2017,
when the market was booming,
more and more individuals,
more users, were onboarding the platform
and bringing in more cryptocurrencies
and also more cash.
We were concerned
that crypto assetswere being stolen.
We knew
that there was aco-founder to Quadriga.
His name was Michael Patryn.
And therefore,
we wereinterested in talking to him.
We were unable
to make contact with Mr. Patryn.
A lot of people thought that Mike Patryn
actually took some of their money
and ran off with it,
or maybe he wasin cahootswith Gerry.
Maybe they conspired together.
As the story sort of
was lackingentertainment,
Michael Patryn joins the Telegram group.
Creditors are pretty angry,
and they're looking for answers.
So we emailed Patryn.
And he told us that he had not
had any level of involvement in Quadriga
since hesplit with the company.
He told us he left the company in 2016.
I don't know if we fully believed Patryn.
Patryn seems like
a fairly seasonedcharacter.
He was deft in deflecting a lot
of the criticism that was aimed at him,
maintaining that he was
a legitimate businessman,
but whether or not, you know, he's
entirely innocent is anotherquestion.
I'm like, "Wow, he thinks Gerry's alive."
Outwardly, Gerry and Patryn
seemed very different.
Gerry was this smiley, kind of nerdy guy.
Whereas, you know,
you look at Patryn online,
and he's fashioning himself
as a... as a macho badass
who has a criminal history.
So what are these two guys doing together?
Patryn had more
of a digitalfootprint online.
And that trail led me
to this site called TalkGold.
TalkGold was principally a forum,
you know, forinvestment scams.
It was a real den of thieves, TalkGold.
People trying to run scams
and dodge other people's scams.
Digging around in the archives, you know,
I come across lots of Patryn's posts.
And one of the things
that I noticed on there
is that
he's got this buddy called Sceptre.
And Sceptre's also very active
on TalkGold.
Sceptre set up and ran
at least two
of these online scams through TalkGold.
You know, a lot of people
lost substantialsums of money.
Sceptre had this scam
called S&S Investments.
S&S Investments provided very
little actual information about itself,
and, you know,
it promised a massive return.
And then, for a little while,
they would
sort of start paying people back.
Until one day, the entire
program just kind of disappears
with everybody's money.
Classic exit scam.
Whoever this Sceptre is,
it seemed significant.
But I just had this hunch
that it was Gerry.
I think it was probably around
that time I started to talk to QCXINT.
We started to trade information
back and forth,essentially.
I combed through,
like, every postSceptre had made,
looking for any sign of him.
Like, slipping up
and revealing some personal information.
No success with that.
It was very frustrating, 'cause it... it
kind of became this, like, personal quest
to find outwho Sceptre was.
I kept just following the data trail.
There was a critical piece
of evidencethat emerged.
It was this public site
called Black Hat World.
A white-hat hacker is a good hacker,
an ethical hacker.
A black-hat hacker is a bad type.
They're the ones
that'll do the dirty work.
One of the things Inoticed, there's
a useron Black Hat Worldcalled Sceptre
that changes their name,
that changes their handle to Murdoch1337.
And so I decided,
okay, I'm gonna start messaging people
on Black Hat World
who interacted with this account
to see whatemail address
this account was using.
And so a few days later
this personemailed back...
and included some screenshots.
I opened it up.
My heart is beating really fast.
I feel like, "Oh, I'm so close."
One of those screenshots
was theorder form
that this account filled out.
It had his full name in there.
Gerry Cotten.
Gerry was Sceptre. That was a direct link.
And we're like, "Yes! We got him."
It threw the whole thing
into a darker,more sinister context.
Gerald, starting with you.
- Yes.
- What's your story?
You were born. Now you're here.
What happened in between?
Not only had one founder
of the exchangehad a shady past,
it was actually bothfounders.
Kind of removes that veil of Gerry,
boy next door, kind of likable nerd.
What you actually start to see
is something a lot more sinister.
This Sceptre character,
this other, youknow, darker Gerry...
...has been operating scams...
since he was 14 or 15.
What it showed is
that Gerry was a serialscammer.
Sceptre posts
about hiring a programmer
to build a cryptocurrency exchange.
And less than three months or so later,
Quadriga was born.
Quadriga had been architected
from the very beginning,
uh, to be a scam of sorts.
Revealing all of these
other things that he had done
gave people this feeling,
like he's scammed us yet again
and maybe he actually
is still alive somewhere.
My name is Gerald Cotten,
and I'm thefounder of QuadrigaCX.
It did make me question
that maybe he hadintentions of, you know,
starting thisbusiness and running away
with the fundslike he had in the past.
He's literally insulting you
and stealingfrom you in daylight,
and then he'swalking away.
If Gerry was alive, then there was
a chance they could get their money back.
That's ultimately why The Globe decided
to send Nathan Vanderklippe to India.
As a journalist,
when you get assigneda story,
one of the first questions
that goes through your mind is,
"Are you gonna be able
to deliver anything?"
And the idea
of going totry to make some sense
of whether someone
had actually died in India,
it just seemed,
frankly, practically impossible.
I got to India, and from there,
it wasjust a question of going out
and trying to make sense
of what was realand what wasn't,
and it felt to me like
the most obvious place
to start was at the hospital.
I had found out the name of the doctor,
and so I went to his office.
He held up a prescription pad
and asked what he could get for me,
and I said, "No, no, no, I'm not...
I'm not looking for medicine."
"I'm looking for some information about
this Canadianwho had died in Jaipur."
He knew exactly what I was talking about.
He remembered this all quite clearly.
And he talked me through
what hadhappened.
So this is what I wrote about it.
"Mr. Cotten and Ms. Robertson
arrived at 9:45 p.m."
He was, quote, "admitted
with symptoms of acute gastroenteritis."
"Mr. Cotten had vomited ten times,
reported 15 episodes
of watery stools,was feverish,
and had a background of Crohn's disease."
"Still, the initial diagnosis pointed
to little more than traveler's diarrhea."
"Mr. Cotten spent the night
in a private room
where Ms. Robertson also stayed."
"Sometime around noon the next day,
his condition took a sharp turn."
"'He became fulminant, ' Dr. Sharma said."
"A medical term describing
a rapid and severedeterioration."
"At 2:45 p.m.,
Mr. Cotten went intocardiac arrest."
"He was resuscitated,
but his blood pressure was low,
and he was placed on aventilator."
"He went into cardiac arrest again."
"And was resuscitated once more."
"But the third time,
he could not be revived."
"At 7:26 p.m.,
Mr. Cotten was declareddead."
That all sort of points in the direction
of this having been a death
and perhaps a death of natural causes.
I showed Dr. Sharma a couple pictures
on my phone of Gerry
and said, "Is this the guy?"
And Dr. Sharma said, "That's the guy."
It was Jenny who really
wanted to go toIndia. Gerry did not.
Unfortunately for Jenny,
even to this day,
she feelsreally guilty about that.
She was devastated.
Because she's solovely and loving
and generous and kind and happy,
she was really broken.
I was reallyafraid for her.
To me, this idea
that Gerry was still alive
was laid to rest
when Nathan went to India.
I was like, "Okay, he's dead."
After that, I didn't entertain the idea.
Everyone is sort of shocked,
confused at the time.
That's where we were at, at that point.
We just had no ground to sort of walk on.
We didn't know where wewere at.
I think it was another blow at that point.
Gerry's dead.
The money's still missing.
We don't exactly know where it went.
When you're in this situation,
you're kind of endlessly optimistic.
There's surely another way
that we can get themoney back.
We kind of still had more questions,
because maybe it wasn't enough.
Did your article end the speculation
about what had happened to Gerry inIndia?
No, I don't think
it ended the speculation.
You know, there's still plenty of people
I thinkwho have questions about it.
"Two months later, his rapid death
still troubles Dr. Sharma."
"Asked if he was certain about
what happened, he said, 'Not at all.'"
"His conclusion was based on
one of the best guesses
of what took a 30-year-old man
from a luxury hotel
to his deathbed
in little more than 24hours."
"No autopsy was done on Mr. Cotten."
You know, in terms of some of the broader
questions about was there foul play here?
Those, it feels to me, are questions that
could only be answered with an autopsy.
Why was there no autopsy happening?
It's interesting, right?
Was this a natural cause,
or wasJennifer trying
to cover the story up?
There was a lot of suspicion
around Gerry's death from the get-go,
And the will deals with what should happen
in the event of Gerry's death.
So, of course, we wanted to get the will
to kind of see what was in there.
I just emailed the court in Nova Scotia,
and it's public information,
so they sentit to me in an email.
It's clear he's awealthy guy.
The strange thing
about the will was that, wow,
he signed this, like, two weeks
before he mysteriously died in India.
That's odd.
He left all his assets
and all his moneyto Jennifer...
which is very, very suspicious.
Suspicion really does begin
to fall more on Jennifer.
Here she is standing to inherit
the substantial property portfolio
and assets worth millions
and millions of dollars.
It is possible that Jennifer
could havepoisoned Gerry.
Then she could have just said
it was his Crohn's disease.
She could potentially have all the keys
and access to our money.
With a little bit of digging,
it becomesapparent that
she changed her name anumber of times.
She changed her name
three times
in thespan of two to three years.
I think first and last name
was Griffith.
And then it was Forgeron.
And then it wasRobertson.
That's a lot of name changes.
Not a normal amount of name changes
for an ordinary person.
Then someone pointed out that there
was aMichael Forgeron that was murdered
in a case that has not been resolved yet.
There's some speculation for this
to have been, in fact, her ex-husband.
If so, would this make it
the second deadhusband that'sdied
in somewhat suspicious circumstances?
The Telegram group
had spiraled out ofcontrol.
Jen had death threats made against her.
I felt really bad for her.
She's mourninghis death,
trying to sort out this mess of a company,
and meanwhile, everyone's suggesting
that Jen had actually murderedGerry.
And there's absolutely no evidence
that anything like that had happened.
It was just a bunch
of reallyangry, misogynistic people.
Jenny did not murder Gerry.
Her first husband,
his name was not Michael,
and he's very much alive and well.
The crazier the story,
the more somebodythought it was true.
Griffith, that's her father's surname.
And then she wasmarried.
And when her divorce was coming up,
she said, "You know,
I really never liked 'Griffith.'"
So she did a legal change of name
to be Jennifer Robertson.
It just seemed like
they had this youngwoman
that they just wanted
to burn at the stake.
She's a witch. Burn the witch.
And it was so unfair. It still is.
The situation got so out of hand
that sheneeded to be put in a safe house.
She was in an apartment undisclosed,
somewhere downtown Halifax.
Even mybrother and I,
we did not know where she was.
But it was that serious.
It wasthat
she also was that afraid.
What we really needed
was immediate,accessible proof
that showed that Jen
did not have all the money.
There were several times
where I waslooking at the data,
wishing that I could have spoken
with Mr. Cotten
so that he could have
told me what happened.
You work so hard at finding
what happened ina case of a fraud.
And suddenly, you've found the one element
that cracks open yourcase.
We came across a series of fake accounts.
One of them was called
"Sceptre Gerry."
And what Cotten did was
credit these accounts with fake assets.
Hundreds of millions of dollars
and tens of thousands of cryptocurrencies.
And what he started to do was
trading against unsuspecting users.
Let's say a user is coming in,
and theywant to buy a crypto.
Their account gets credited
with one crypto.
Unbeknownst to them,
that crypto does not exist.
It was Cotten responding to that order,
crediting their account
with fake cryptocurrencies.
And that's what he did
hundreds of thousands of times.
That's when we were able
to identifythe link
as to why they were moving assets
to other exchanges located abroad.
Cotten was trying to get rich.
He's transferring the cryptocurrencies
that are owned by users
and sent them
to other platforms for trading.
It looks like Gerry, in a way,
treated Quadriga as his own piggybank,
that hecould sort of dip
into the exchange andtake money out.
In effect, Cotten was playing the casino
with users' assets.
But he found himself
losing instead of winning.
Gerry, I mean,
he was a spectacularly badtrader.
You know, in amongst these kind
of periods where crypto is booming
and people are making ten times
or a hundred times their,
you know,their investment,
Gerry's managed to do the reverse.
Mr. Cotten lost approximately $150 million
by essentially gambling.
Oh my God.
I was already on antidepressants,
so thank God for that, but...
how could someone lose so muchmoney?
Now, this is when it turned
into more of a Ponzi scheme.
In a Ponzi scheme,
if the individuals want their money back,
you simply take it from another user
who gave you money.
In other words, you rob Pete to pay Paul.
But, you see, the enemy of a Ponzi scheme
is people leaving your Ponzischeme.
And that's what started happening
in early 2018.
Bitcoin took a serious tumble.
It's now down almost 50%.
The prices started to drop very quickly.
That created a rush
by users to cash inon their profits.
Quadriga very quickly started to struggle
fulfilling those withdrawal requests.
Cotten was fulfilling the requests
of whoever was screaming the loudest.
He was really a fireman at that point,
extinguishing small fires where he could.
Gerry's stuck in the maze.
I've still got this image
in my head of...
of Gerry kind of getting stuck
in thismaze
and running endlessly, you know,
round and round in circles,
trying tofind the way out.
That's kind of
an ironic metaphorin someways
for whathappened with Quadriga.
And that's how Cotten was able
to be the mastermind
and a conductor
of thismassive fraud all on his own.
In a typical situation,
we would have taken enforcement action.
However, because Mr.Cotten was deceased,
we couldn't have
our court hearing this case.
Okay, now scan the QR code...
Honestly, I'm still grappling
with, like, the video
where he's showing the kid
how to use the Bitcoin ATM.
Now put in the money.
You're running Ponzi schemes,
robbing people of money.
Those same people probably, right?
The kid's dad
probably put money on Quadriga.
How do you... How do you do that?
Okay, now click "Send Bitcoins."
Um, we all hate Gerry Cotten.
He's, uh... The more I know about this dude,
like, the more I realize he was
just basically, like, a psychopath.
This person apparently
had no human compassion.
Uh, didn't care about people.
Scamming people's money. Didn't care
about peoplelosing their lifesavings.
So not only did he take away my...
money, in a sense, he took away...
my dream and one year of my life,
just by stealing that money, right?
And I think that's more valuable
than the money that he took away from me.
I was personally
'cause we so ferociously defended him.
It lent to us looking like we were liars.
It lent to Jenny
looking like she had lied.
Jenny was just as duped
as everyone else,if not more,
because as much
as everyone else lost money, she...
still has to question
what she knows for sure
about the person that she chose
to spend the rest of her life with.
It's been two years
since, um,Quadriga wentunder,
and our chances of getting all
of our money back is very, very slim.
I think when Bitcoin was booming,
people didn't
necessarily question Quadriga
or the companies
that they were dealingwith.
You know, somebody like Gerry
could take advantage of that trust.
This entire thing,
Quadriga, the person behind it,
and my personal story as well
was shaped by greed.
I can be honest
and say that I was... I was greedy.
I think there are a number of reasons
why there were so many conspiracy theories
around what happened at Quadriga.
A big part of it is that the story had
a lot ofstrange elements from the get-go.
All of these coincidences
that kind of inspiresthe imagination.
Outraged investors want
to exhumethe founder's body
to make sure that he's actually dead.
If we exhumed Gerry's body right now,
they will claim that's not his real body.
That's what they'll do. I promise you.
If you DNA test the body,
then they'll say the DNA test is fake.
Yes, they will. They'll claim
the DNAtester is part ofthe conspiracy.
We need hard fact evidence,
and the only place that can provide that
is a little grave
that supposedly hosts
Gerald Cotten's body.
Conspiracy theories breed in ignorance.
It makes it easier
for people to drawwild speculations
because the authorities
are not quicklyenough
providing them accurate information.
'Cause if you force people
on the Internet to be the detectives,
that's what they're gonna do,
and they're gonna solve it their own way.