Episode 45: Crypto Craziness Part 2 - John McAfee, Craig Wright, and the Identity of Satoshi

This episode covers two eccentric thought leaders in the crypto world, John McAfee and Craig Wright, as well as the myriad theories about the identity of Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto.

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John McAfee

Who is John McAfee?

Bloomberg offers a nice overview of McAfee’s life:

The entrepreneur founded McAfee Associates in 1987, though the company has since passed through several hands. He was a person of interest in a murder in Belize, after which he returned to the U.S. In recent years, McAfee has been investing in digital coins, as well as promoting them -- for a fee -- in his own Twitter feed. He also is running for U.S. president.

Forays Into Crypto

CubaCoin

McAfee isn’t a Bitcoin maximalist like the Bitcoin carnivores we discussed in the previous episode; CoinDesk reports he has even offered his services to help Cuba develop their own cryptocurrency.

Cuba is planning to use Cryptocurrency to get around the 63 years of economic strangulation imposed upon 14 million Cuban people by the insanity of the US Government. Finally, a large scale, real world application for Cryptocurrencies. If Cuba wants my help, I am here.

McAfee thinks the project is both viable and so simple that he offered to help for free.

It would be trivial to get around the U.S. government’s embargo through the use of a clever system of currency. So I made a formal offer to help them for free on a private rchannel… through Twitter.

As of the time of this recording, Cuba has not taken McAfee up on this offer.

McAfee Freedom Coin

McAfee isn’t just helping the Cuban’s develop crypto; he is developing his own crypto called “McAfee Freedom Coin”. The goal is to reach,

the Holy Grail of cryptocurrency -- economic freedom. What is needed is a coin disconnected from fiat currencies and from other crypto currencies alike — a coin with zero cash-in value, yet accepted universally … It is not based on any commodity nor is it connected to the value or behavior of any external item or entity. The value of the coin will always be zero in relation to any other currency yet it's natural market value is free, completely, to grow.

The First Crypto President

John McAfee’s interest in cryptocurrency doesn’t end with developing cryptos. He is even running for President in 2020, and his campaign slogan is very simple: 

Don’t Vote McAfee

He clarifies this slogan as well as the role crypto will play in his campaign,

[crypto is] all I’m going to talk about. See, I don’t want to be president. I couldn’t be...no one’s going to elect me president, please God. However, I’ve got the right to run.

On his campaign website, McAfee offers this statements,

A major focus of the 2020 campaign will be on cryptocurrency. We believe that cryptocurrency offers a unique historical opportunity to the individual – a chance to liberate one’s self, without violence, and to become more free. Money drives everything in this world, and represents the strongest of the chains bound upon us by out-of-control government. We aim to break that chain for as many people as possible by helping them become familiar and comfortable with a technology that can empower them to do it.

The One Million Dollar Prediction

McAfee is what you would call bullish on Bitcoin. On July 17th, 2017, McAfee predicted that one Bitcoin would be worth $500,000 in 3 years. At the time one Bitcoin was worth $2,244.27. He even put his body where his mouth is, making this promise:

If not, I will eat my dick on national television.

In fairness, he did slightly revise his prediction.

When I predicted Bitcoin at $500,000 by the end of 2020, it used a model that predicted $5,000 at the end of 2017. BTC has accelerated much faster than my model assumptions. I now predict Bircoin [sic] at $1 million by the end of 2020.

Most importantly, McAfee says,

I will still eat my dick if wrong

Not only does McAfee think BTC will hit $1 million in 2020, he thinks it is metaphysically necessary.

Come on people!!! It's time to brush up your basic math skills and run some f*^#$ng numbers!!!! It is mathematically impossible for Bitcoin to be less than $1 mil by the end of 2020. Bitcoin is not an effing stock!!! You can't apply stock paradigms or formulas and expect answers!

Thankfully, someone identified as “a bitcoin fan” made a convenient prediction tracker to see how McAfee’s prediction is going at bircoin.top. Assuming a linear growth trend, BTC should be worth about $76,188 today. It is currently at about $9,693, or 87% below prediction. The tracker ends with a note about McAfee himself,

Who is that John McAfee guy? The founder of McAfee Antivirus. Some say he is a genius. Some say he is a lunatic. But that does not matter. This is not about McAfee. It is about comparing the price to a prediction that sounds too good to be true.

Another important website keeping track of the more culinary side of the prediction is The Dickening Countdown to John McAfee Dick Eating, Or just dickening.com,

If the price of Bitcoin has not reached One Million Dollars by December 31st, 2020, John McAfee has promised to eat his own dick on National Television. Conversely, if Bitcoin is worth One Million Dollars by that day, most of the world is going to feel like dicks for not listening. A Dickening will be had no matter what.

Dickening.com is asking the real important questions, like “Is it possible to eat your own dick?” The site is bullish on the possibility, citing McAfee’s athletic past.

A little known fact is that John McAfee became a yoga teacher after selling his software company. Speculation is that if John McAfee loses his bet, he will not need a knife and fork. Instead, the limber McAfee seems quite capable of demonstrating to a national TV audience the yoga pose, "downward dick eater."

Sadly, we may never see McAfee’s downward dick eater, as he has suggested on Twitter that he has a different method in mind,

If the worst comes and  I lose my Bitcoin bet (keep in mind I promised to eat my dick. The cutting it off first was added by the media), I will probably subcontract the task to a relay team of Bangkok prostitutes with instructions to carry out the task slowly, finishing as I exit

When a disappointed fan replied that the bet was for McAfee to eat his dick and not a prostitute, McAfee retorted with a legally sound argument,

The law in every State is similar: “Debtys owed, whether in tangible assets or in service, may legally be fulfilled by agents acting on behalf of the principal.”

The Bitcoin Time Traveler (BTCTT)

Verifying McAfee’s Prediction

McAfee has a good reason to be bullish on bitcoin; a time traveler from the future has confirmed his $1 million prediction. Who exactly is this time traveler? Their Reddit handle is u/Luka_Magnotta, and they made a post on Aug 31st, 2013 describing the increase in the value of Bitcoin,

On average, every year so far, the value of Bitcoin has increased by about a factor ten. From 0.1 dollar in 2010, to 1 dollar in 2011, to 10 dollar in 2012, to 100 dollar in 2013. From now on, there’s a slight slowdown, as the value increased by a factor ten every two years, to 1,000 dollar in 2015, to 10,000 in 2017, 100,000 in 2019, and 1,000,000 in 2021.”

Some are skeptical and suggest a Reddit post isn’t the most trustworthy source. But McAfee displays his reliabilism when he tweets,

Does the source matter if the source has always been right?

So, how good are these predictions? Again, the post was made August 2013. That means that the relevant predictions are for 2013, 2015, and 2017.

  • In 2013, BTC ended the year at around $764, slightly higher than $100.

  • In 2015, the record high price for Bitcoin was $504. It wouldn’t hit $1,000 until January 2017 (although it did hit $1,000 late 2013/early 2014).

  • In 2017, Bitcoin hit a high of $19,783.06 on December 17th, 2017. So more than double what the Bitcoin Time Traveler claims.

  • BTCTT predicts that BTC will hit 100,000 by 2019, so only time will tell.

The Bitcoin Dystopia

What gets lost in these discussions of the BTCTT are the dystopian predictions and the explicitly anti-BTC perspective they bring to the past. After BTC hits 1 million, it is difficult to express its value in dollars, since dollars are no longer used. In fact, there are NO central banks issuing currency at all. With a population of around 7 billion and 19 billion BTCs in circulation, the average person owns .003 BTC (which would be $3,000) but due to wealth inequality the MEAN is lesser than .001 (or $1000). I speculate they meant MEDIAN. As the BTCTT is posting in r/bitcoin, they speculate that most Redditors there are now rich. He even lives next to one of these rich redditors,

I live near an annoying young man who checked his old wallet account two years ago and discovered that he received a tip of 0.01 Bitcoin back in 2013 for calling someone a “faggot” when he was a 16 year old boy. Upon making this discovery he bought an airline ticket, left his house without telling anyone and escaped to a Citadel.

Wait, what the hell is a Citadel? A Citadel is a gated city where the Bitcoin rich live. These started as a way to protect Bitcoin mining operations and almost all work there is now automated. 

Most governments have collapsed. Since the transition to bitcoin, governments are not able to effectively tax their citizens. They tried staying relevant by buying Bitcoin themselves, but this just increased the value more and exacerbated the problem. Plus, unscrupulous government workers simply transferred large sums to their private wallets and skedaddled into the night.

In 2025, the four largest bitcoin whales are:

  • ASICMiner, a kind of steampunk dystopia bitcoining mining company: 50,000

  • IMF’s “Currency Stabilization Fund”: 70,000

  • Saudi Arabia: 110,000

  • North Korea: 180,000.

That’s right: the single richest entity in 2025 is North Korea. Interestingly, a recent article in the Independent estimates that North Korean hacking has garned the democratic people’s republic somewhere in the range of $670 million dollars worth of bitcoin. So by 2025 exchange rates they only have 179,330 to go! Saudi Arabia and NK were apparently able to successfully transition to the Bitcoin economy because of their “authoritarian political structures”

Sadly, all this wealth isn’t being used to do much, with economic growth at -2% a year. Since BTC is not inflationary, someone sitting on billions of dollars has no incentive to invest and grow the economy. Also, you might think the early adopters have it easy; They’re all millionaires and billionaires, after all. Not so fast! Anti-BTC and anti-Crypto terrorists, seeing what was happening, opted to murder anyone they could with big bags or who helped promote crypto. For example,

What happened to the Winklevoss twins? They were among the first to die.

The BTCTT speculates that due to rampant hostage taking, as many as 25% of the Bitcoin rich “physically tortured” someone to get their wallet. Like folks who win the lottery today, many “Earlies” abandoned family and friends and changed their identities.

The post-BTC transition was so horrific that it is referred to simply as “the Tragedy”. A particularly gruesome part of the Tragedy is what happened in Africa. The African Union, in an attempt to integrate Bitcoin into their economy, offered free cell phones tied to citizens government id. Think of having a smartphone instead of a driver’s license. Presumably, everyone in Africa would pay for everything with Bitcoin with their phone acting as a hardware wallet.

Things went south as soon as a Russian criminal organization discovered a security flaw in these government issued cellphones, allowing them to steal bitcoin willy nilly. As a result, Africa lost 60% of its wealth in 48 hours. After a period of brutal civil war, Saudi Arabia and North Korea stepped in to calm things down, divided the continent amongst themselves and were treated as heroes by the Africans. One can understand, then, why 70% of Africans believe BTC was made by the devil. I guess Pew grabbed enough bitcoins to stay in business.

So, what now? The time traveler reveals his shocking plan. He is part of an underground resistance organization in control of 20 nuclear submarines. First, they will cut all the underwater Internet cables, effectively eliminating the Internet. Then they will nuke every major population center on earth. The resulting chaos and confusion will lead to armed revolt, allowing resisters to destroy every computer they can and render Bitcoin irrelevant. An extreme plan, but the time traveler ends with this.

Of course, this outcome will likely lead to billions of deaths. This is a price we are forced to pay, to avoid the eternal enslavement of humanity to a tiny elite.

This is also the reason we are sending this message to your time.

It doesn’t have to be like this. You do not have to share our fate. I don’t know how, but you must find a way to destroy this godforsaken project in its infancy. I know this is a difficult thing to ask of you.

You believed you were helping the world by eliminating the central banking cartel that governs your economies.

However, I have seen where it ends.

Will The Real Satoshi Please Stand

McAfee Knows Satoshi

McAfee claims to know who Satoshi Nakamoto is and even plans to reveal their identity. So far, it is unclear exactly when he plans on doing so.

I’ve spoken with him, and he is not a happy camper about my attempt to out him.

While many doubt McAfee knows who Satoshi is, he is quick to remind them that he is suited to the task.

People forget that I am a technologist. I am one of the best… My entire life I’ve been tracking people who are the best in the world, and hiding their identity. Finding Satoshi was a piece of cake for me.

In April 2019, McAfee told Bloomberg he would reveal Nakamoto’s identity “within a week”. However, after meeting with his extradition lawyer, McAfee concluded that releasing Nakamoto’s name would hurt his extradition trial, and so he decided against it. In a letter from his legal team, V. Alfred Gray & Co., they advise McAfee against revealing Satoshi’s identity because 

[there will be] a possible lawsuit and other legal actions against yourself and will undoubtdly have you drawn to defend yourself on many front.

So nobody knows the real identity, or identities, of Sataoshi Nakamoto -- besides John McAfee, of course. But there’s a lot of fun theories about who the real Satoshi is:

Hal Finney

One candidate is Hal Finney, the second person (or first, if he’s Satoshi) to mess around with the Bitcoin code and report bugs. He has denied being Satoshi.

Nick Szabo

A second candidate is Nick Szabo, who published a white paper proposing “bit gold” in 1998, which is very similar to bitcoin (although he hadn’t solved what’s dubbed the “double spending policy”, which Nakamoto did solve via proof of work, as discussed in the last episode). He also denies being Satoshi.

Dorian Nakamoto

A third candidate is Dorian Nakamoto, whose birth name is indeed Satoshi Nakamoto. In a 2014 article from the deep state publication Newsweek, Leah McGrath Goodman reported that she had tracked down the creator of bitcoin, 

It seemed ludicrous that the man credited with inventing Bitcoin - the world's most wildly successful digital currency, with transactions of nearly $500 million a day at its peak - would retreat to Los Angeles's San Gabriel foothills, hole up in the family home and leave his estimated $400 million of Bitcoin riches untouched. It seemed similarly implausible that Nakamoto's first response to my knocking at his door would be to call the cops. Now face to face, with two police officers as witnesses, Nakamoto's responses to my questions about Bitcoin were careful but revealing.

Tacitly acknowledging his role in the Bitcoin project, he looks down, staring at the pavement and categorically refuses to answer questions.

"I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it," he says, dismissing all further queries with a swat of his left hand. "It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.”

In an October 2015 Reddit AMA, among other occasions, Dorian Nakamoto denied that he was the inventor of bitcoin and that his seemingly tacit acknowledgement to being THE Satoshi was based on a misrepresentation by Goodman, 

Ms. Goodman replaced my conditional: "Even if I was involved ..." and, I further explained that I cannot disclose my work due to the engineer creed not to discuss employers sensitive information which we signed before we are employed. At the time, without knowing Bitcoin, I thought she was asking about my work at Citibank.

Richard Heart’s Theories

As Bitcoin advocate, self-proclaimed “thought leader”, and apparent vampire Richard Heart (check out his livestream lair in his YouTube videos and you’ll see what I mean) has put it, since Satoshi’s massive stash of coins mined in the early days appear not to have been touched, the only possible explanations are:

  • Satoshi is dead

  • Satoshi burned or lost his private keys

  • Satoshi is, in Heart’s words, quote, “a bitch”

So you might be thinking that Richard Heart’s list of alternatives seems pretty comprehensive, “bitch” comment notwithstanding. But there’s at least one possibility that Richard has missed: that Satoshi is in prison! But before we get into that -- and don’t worry, we will -- first it’s necessary to talk about another Satoshi identification theory. And that is that Satoshi is actually an Aussie named “Craig Wright”.

Craig Wright

Satoshi Claims and Bitcoin Satoshi Vision

You may have noticed a running theme in the aforementioned Satoshi theories, and that is that all three of the other candidates have denied being Satoshi. Craig Wright stands out among them with the opposite claim. He says, loudly and proudly (with emphasis on the loud part), that he is the real Satoshi.

So, who is Craig Wright? He’s an Australian computer scientist and entrepreneur. By the way, that’s the nicest way to describe him, although there are other ways, such as that he’s a con-man. And just in case if Mr. Wright’s lawyers are listening, we are totally not saying he’s a con-man, only that is seems like maybe one could suspect that he is. 

According to a great Wired article we’ll go into detail on later,

As followers of the Satoshi saga will know, Wright was the man outed in late 2015 by WIRED and Gizmodo as a likely candidate to himself be Satoshi Nakamoto. Both publications later walked back the stories after it appeared that documents they’d relied upon had been faked and manipulated.

Wright at first declined to address whether he was Satoshi, then attempted to prove he was. He failed to con­vince most of the bitcoin community, which came to view him as a fraud, pointing to easily discredited proofs he offered in a PR-staged coming-out ceremony. Today he aggressively asserts that he is Satoshi. His company nChain—backed by former online gambling mogul Calvin Ayre—has created an alternative to bitcoin called “Bitcoin Satoshi Vision.”

Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision, or BSV as notated on exchanges, is a fork of Bitcoin. As a refresher from the last episode, a Bitcoin fork is simply the act of copying the Bitcoin Core blockchain and then taking in into a new direction henceforth. In this sense, it’s a lot like Roger Ver’s Bitcoin Cash fork. And if you want to know all about the very stable genius that is Roger Ver, be sure to listen to part one of this series.

Roger Ver, From Friend to Enemy

In a debate between Richard Heart and Roger Ver on YouTube, Roger Ver had a lot of nice things to say about Wright. This apparently because anyone that’s a foe of Bitcoin Core is totally cool. In the interview, Heart is a little more than skeptical that Wright is Satoshi. But Ver says this doesn’t matter. After praising Wright for allegedly committing crimes involving tax fraud in Australia, Ver tells Heart,

With regards to Craig being Satoshi or not, I don’t think it matters at the end of the day. Either what he’s saying in regards to scaling is accurate and correct and a good path forward, or it’s not. And the things that I hear him saying are the same sort of things that the original Satoshi said in his posts on the forum and his emails, and those are the same sort of things that I signed up for when I got involved in bitcoin, and those are the same sorts of things that led bitcoin to become the incredible success that it is today. And those are the same sort of things and the roadmap that I think we should continue to follow down.

Besides Craig Wright’s fetish for large block sizes and anti-taxation activities, another reason Roger Ver liked Wright so much might be explained by the fact that Wright’s company nChain was a big help to the Bitcoin Cash community in its early days. According to Crypto Markets Wiki,

Dr. Craig Wright founded the company in order to help bitcoin, (inner quote), "scale and grow...to become what it was envisioned to be.” This quote, of course, came before the historic bitcoin fork that led to the creation of Bitcoin Cash… 

...much of nChain's current production involves making and releasing software development kits (SDKs) to help create applications and technical solutions for Bitcoin Cash. In April 2018, nChain announced it would be offering smart contract patents exclusively to developers in the Bitcoin Cash community through a software protocol they invented.

Everything was hunky dory between Ver and Wright until August 2018. After that, things weren’t so good. Again, from the Crypto Markets Wiki article

In August 2018, nChain proposed the integration of "Bitcoin SV" (SV stands for "Satoshi Vision") as an alternative upgrade to a controversial upgrade proposed by ABC Bitcoin, a rival developer. This added to the already derisive tension in the Bitcoin Cash community, raising concerns that the community may split following a hard fork, similar to the split that originally created Bitcoin Cash.

And now if you thought Ver -- a man that almost killed himself from lack of sleep by reading too much about Bitcoin -- was a high level genius, then HODL your brain and buckle up because we’re mooning all the way to the genius stratosphere. According to Toshi Times, quoting Ver, 

It’s never easy to admit that someone fooled you. But maybe I’ve been fooled,” Ver said while sharing a screenshot of an email that Wright had allegedly sent him. He got the email after he publicly backed BCH development group Bitcoin ABC — not Wright’s SV — in the debate over the impending BCH hard fork.

Wright allegedly wrote:

Side with ABC; you hate bitcoin, you are my enemy. You have fucking no idea what that means. You Will. I AM Satoshi. Have a nice life. You will now discover me when pissed off. And, no. You Could have had proof. Your choice. Fuck you.

Wright made good on his threats and sued Ver. According to Cryptoslate,

The increasingly litigious Craig Wright sued Bitcoin Cash figurehead, and former business partner, Roger Ver for libel after being called a “fraud and a liar.” Ver responded to the lawsuit by seemingly debunking Wright’s claim that he controlled several high-profile Bitcoin addresses, which would have suggested that Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto.

Wright… submitted a list of Bitcoin addresses to a U.S. District Court in Florida. These addresses are owned by him and a trust he operates.

The addresses, which were described as a “lazy copy-paste job,” was supposed to prove that Wright owns some of the first Bitcoin addresses ever created. This apparent response from Ver was in the form of a signing statement from an address that Wright claimed to have controlled which stated,

[This bitcoin address] does not belong to Satoshi or Craig Wright. Craig is a liar and a fraud.

And if you’re a bit lost, just know that some wallets have a “signing statement” feature, when you can send out messages from your wallet. 

Even though some in the crypto community that have studied the activity of this address on the blockchain suspect the address belongs to Ver, I can’t verify this for sure and can’t find anything else with Ver saying he performed the signing statement. In fact bitcoin.com, owned by Ver, lists the person who did it as an “unknown person” and “early adopter”. 

Now, this could be because either A) it isn’t Ver, or B) it is Ver but he doesn’t want to say it is for privacy reasons. Whatever the truth of the real owner of the address, the only thing we know for sure is that the address doesn’t belong to Craig Wright. Unless Craig Wright is even crazier than you might already think he is, of course.

The Rwanda Remarks

And that may not be too unreasonable to think, because some of the stuff he’s said is a bit crazy. At an information technology conference in Rwanda, he told his audience,

Now the fact of the matter on this is, you can open up and allow free trade, you can open up and allow your country to be more, or you can wait and hand money to a whole lot of people. And I’ll say this quite frankly, because I’ve got more money than your country.

The audience gasps. Wright continues, 

So I’m not going to ask for anything. I don’t want your investment. I don’t want — like Stellar and everything else — to be handed money. I don’t really care. I’m just going to develop solutions and they’re going to go out there and they’re going to be created and they’re going to be used, because we can basically make them that way.

Now, one thing that annoys me is how, ‘Oh, I’ve got to be happy and tell everyone what they want.’ No, I’m going to do things so that people can trade whether you like it or not. I don’t want an African currency, I want the world.

Other Typical Thought Leader Behavior

But these are all just tiny footnotes in the mountains of scandals that Craig Wright is involved in. Here’s another taste of his antics. From a Daily Beast article,

Wired reported last year that there are holes in Wright’s résumé, and that he may have “misrepresented his academic credentials.”

To prove that he really is Satoshi, Wright said he’d created what’s known as a digital signature and affixed it to a document, in this case a speech by the novelist Jean-Paul Sartre from 1964, explaining why he was refusing to accept the Nobel Prize. Wright claimed that he made that signature using a cryptographic key that only Satoshi, as he’s called, or someone close to him would possess.

But cryptology and Bitcoin experts say Wright is lying, and that he simply ripped off an existing digital signature from another source and passed it off as a new one.

“We’ve got him dead to rights,” Dan Kaminsky, a prominent computer security researcher who says he has proven Wright’s ruse, told The Daily Beast. “The guy’s a scammer.”

The problem is that while Wright might be Satoshi-for-himself, he isn’t Satoshi-in-himself.

Wright has even gone so far as to claim copyright of the Bitcoin code and whitepaper with the United States Copyright Office. A representative of Wright stated,

...the registrations issued by the U.S. Copyright Office recognize Wright as the author – under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto – of both the white paper and code. This is the first government agency recognition of Craig Wright as Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin.

The United States Copyright Office, as a response to this very statement, had a somewhat different take,

As a general rule, when the Copyright Office receives an application for registration, the claimant certifies as to the truth of the statements made in the submitted materials. The Copyright Office does not investigate the truth of any statement made. In a case in which a work is registered under a pseudonym, the Copyright Office does not investigate whether there is a provable connection between the claimant and the pseudonymous author.

Still not convinced that Craig Wright is not Satoshi? Well, there’s a hilarious YouTube video titled “Craig Wright remembers reading the paper he wrote”, in which Wright, on stage in front of a live audience says the following,

I remember some white paper, back in 2008, had this section on how identity worked in bitcoin. I remember reading it... probably… when I wrote it.

Satoshi The Drug Lord?

But perhaps the juiciest scandal of them all is the current one he’s embroiled in. And, as I said before, one possibility for why Satoshi hasn’t done anything with his bitcoin stash is because he’s in prison. And that’s what brings us to the weirdest and most intriguing Satoshi theory yet: that Satoshi is actually an incarcerated drug lord! Evan Ratliff of Wired Magazine writes

I spent five years tracking Paul Calder Le Roux, a South African pro­grammer who built a global drug and arms dealing empire, and transformed himself into one of the 21st century’s most prolific and pursued criminals. I’d obsessively catalogued his life, from his early history as an encryption coder; through his creation of an online prescription drug business worth hundreds of millions of dollars; to his diversification into smuggling, weapons, and violence; to his 2012 capture by, and cooperation with, the Drug Enforcement Agency.

These questions about Satoshi, however, filled me with a special kind of dread. I’d traveled down the Satoshi rabbit hole before and returned empty handed.

But now the messages about Le Roux kept coming, driven by 4chan and Hacker News threads churning over a tantalizing new clue—a footnote in one filing in a multibillion-dollar federal lawsuit in Florida.

This is where things started to get weird. The defendant in the lawsuit is an Australian computer scientist named Craig Wright.

The lawsuit drawing Paul Le Roux into this morass was filed in 2018 by Ira Kleiman, the brother of Dave Kleiman—Wright’s friend, fellow computer security guru, and business partner who died in 2013. Represented by the powerful law firm Boise Schiller, Ira Kleiman asserts that his brother and Wright mined hundreds of thousands of bitcoins together. Upon Kleiman’s death, Wright is alleged to have transferred Kleiman’s share to himself and his businesses, depriving Kleiman’s estate of digital currency that is today worth billions.

Now to the footnote: This April, Wright’s lawyers filed a motion asking the judge in the case to seal Wright’s responses to certain deposition questions. Wright claimed that the disclosure of these answers, which involved people whom the pair had supposedly helped law enforcement apprehend, could “endanger him and other persons” and “implicate national security concerns.” The names of these people were redacted, as were the footnotes elaborating on Wright’s answers. But his lawyers appeared to have made a mistake, failing to black out a footnote containing links to a news article and a Wikipedia page about one Paul Calder Le Roux.

Ratliff didn’t want to go back down the Satoshi rabbit hole again, but he simply could not resist it after new information came up from the Craig Wright lawsuit,

Exhausting as the whole thing seemed, ultimately it was a fear of embarrassment that drove me back down the Satoshi hole. What if Le Roux was Satoshi, I began to wonder, and after all my years researching him, someone else proved it? Which outcome was worse: joining the ranks of the humbled speculators or failing to solve the internet’s greatest mystery with the answer right in front of my face? I opened up the Le Roux archive I’d built for the book and started poking around.

Over a few days, I found myself uncovering surprising correlations I’d missed or discounted the first time. After a couple more, I’d built a spreadsheet mapping the evidence for and against the proposition. Within weeks, I’d pored over every piece of writing credibly attributed to Le Roux or Satoshi, and found myself perplexed at the growing size of the “for” column on my spreadsheet. I called up experts, ran my evidence by them, and found no one who could really shoot it down. After a month, I was able to convince a colleague with deep cryptocurrency knowledge, someone who’d followed every twist and turn of the Satoshi saga, that Le Roux was the odds-on solution to the mystery of who created bitcoin.

So, what are some of the reasons to believe that Le Roux is Satoshi? Ratliff gives us quite a few. They include:

  • Le Roux is fluent in C++, which is what bitcoin’s software is written in.

  • He is a self-taught expert in encryption and networking

  • He had developed a disk encryption software called Encryption for the Masses which was something of a precursor to bitcoin, and even announced it on a cryptography mailing list in the same manner Satoshi Nakamoto did for bitcoin

  • The writing styles of La Roux and Satoshi are uncanny in their similarity, including being in a strange mixture of both American and British style English (and it should be noted that La Roux spent much of his life in the British Commonwealth AND the United States)

  • Philosophically, they both had an anti-government sentiment and deep distrust of the banking establishment

  • One of La Roux’s fake passports had him listed as “Paul Solotshi Calder Le Roux” 

On the other hand, Ratliff also has his reasons not to believe they are the same person. Among those:

  • Satoshi would sometimes employ very technical jargon, whereas La Roux typically did not

  • Satoshi frequently employed two spaces after a period, something La Roux never did

  • Satoshi would write “sourcecode” as one word, whereas La Roux would write it as two

  • Satoshi thought Bitcoin might be a solution to spam, whereas La Roux was a spam champion

Ratliff recognizes he has no hard evidence and, because anti-government tech nerds are aplenty, he’s perfectly willing to accept that this could all just the Jonanthan Cahn download process, as we’ve talked about many times on this podcast. And if you want to know what that is, check out our MAGA church episode. Ratliff writes,

It’s often said that there is really only one way to verify Satoshi, and that’s for the person or persons behind the name to come forward and then use Satoshi’s private keys to move, spend, or cryptographically sign the original blocks of bitcoins. Paul Le Roux is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court this August, and if he is Satoshi, it’ll be anywhere from three years to life before he’d be able to do any of that. 

Assuming for a second that La Roux really is Satoshi, what connection does he have to Craig Wright? 

I want to be clear: we don’t know anything outside of the vague link to La Roux that Wright’s lawyers failed to redact. But that’s not stopping wild speculation all over the Internet! Of this speculation, Ratliff writes, 

Craig Wright must have known Le Roux, the story went, and known that he was the man behind bitcoin—perhaps even collaborated with him. Then, realizing by 2015 that Le Roux was held incommu­nicado in US custody, Wright began setting himself up as Satoshi, while he and Calvin Ayre set to work cracking the encryption on Satoshi/Le Roux’s stash of original bitcoins. Or something like that. Frankly, it was hard to follow.

By the way, do check out Evan Ratliff’s article on Wired. Full title: “Was Bitcoin Created by This International Drug Dealer? Maybe!” It’s a fascinating read but with far too much information to fit on this podcast episode. 

So, how’s the lawsuit going for Craig Wright? Here’s a few great highlights from a Yahoo Finance article

He said he rued inventing bitcoin because it has been linked to criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering. He described his own “fork” of Bitcoin, Bitcoin SV, as being compliant with law enforcement. (SV was reportedly used to process child pornography last year.)

At several points, Wright offered jarring, uncommon characterizations of the Bitcoin protocol. He described the technology foremost as a “Mandela network,” and claimed the phrase “public address”—the term most commonly used to describe where Bitcoins are sent—was a misnomer, though the case depends on his producing a number of such “public addresses.” “There are no public addresses at all in Bitcoin,” he said.

At one point Wright threw a document, and was chastised by the judge, who threatened him with “handcuffs.” Wright later apologised. “I’m very sorry, Your honor. I lose control sometimes,” he said. “My wife is a psychologist, and she’s working with me.”

@BotFaketoshi

If that wasn’t enough for you, there’s a wonderful Twitter account @BotFaketoshi which was created to reveal Craig Wright’s tweets to the many people he blocked. And even though Craig Wright’s actual account is no longer active, we still have the bot account to preserve many of his high level genius tweets for posterity. Here’s just a tiny sample of the wonderful nuggets of wisdom you’ll find on there:

So here’s the irony in calling me the Bond villain… James Bond works for the government.

Why not come out as Satoshi? That makes me the issuer. And, as I create and start to teach law enforcement and prosecutors what this means, I also hand the evidence of the first issue of any blockchain based money to them on a platter. 

To all those who say, just prove it. No, I will do as I want. My story and I will tell it in my time. I never planned to, but due to action from a con man, I will. If you think you are owed, LOL. Not one of you are owed anything. Most of you are all I despise in the space.

I wonder if people understand defamation laws well enough to understand what is coming… As I have said, I have long timeframes.

In the years to come you’re going to be paying me or using bitcoin the way I created it or both. And you still think it matters whether I am liked by you?

I am a legal scholar and if you thought, not drunk the coolaide, you may see the value of your responses to be.

God I loathe politically correct assholes. Scum squared.

I block complete idiots and associated dickheads. So, don’t bother asking for changes away from the whitepaper. Not happening.

By the time you figure out what I have been doing, you will only be a decade behind.

And last but not least:

The most unfair thing on this earth is equality.

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