We here at Buttcoin have obtained newly filed paperwork (1, 2) in the SEC’s case against Trendon Shavers, AKA pirateat40, owner of the now-collapsed pyramid scheme Bitcoin Savings and Trust. Some highlights:
- He’s been unemployed for 4 years. (Father of 10-ish year old twins)
- He began his ponzi efforts informally starting in February of 2011 through IRC channels, with microloans that turned into larger loans
- He said for the last 2 years he’s been “self employed in currency trading”. When asked what that meant, he said he used localbitcoins.com to arrange trades throughout Texas, always receiving cash for BTC.
- At a bitcoin conference in Las Vegas in July 2012, he hit up a bunch of bitcoin bigwigs for investments in his ponzi. They invested a lot into him, and he names names. Burt Wagner is the only name [our source] recognized. But he netted a lot of whales at that thing.
- Paraphrased question: Why did you take deposits in Vegas by paper transactions? “In Vegas I didn’t have access to a computer to be able to connect. Vegas’ network was horrible. So I told anybody that made deposits that I couldn’t verify on the server… I would pay them an additional percentage for those coins.”
- One of the Vegas investors stiffed him with the paper transaction, withdrawing the amount before the blockchain confirmed his deposit.
- He mentions that he had to change all of his passwords when bitcointalk got hacked: “It became Bill Cosby coins, a bunch of stuff got messed up, and everything went haywire, so they had everybody reset their passwords”
- He says about 60 to 70 percent of his ponzi was invested in Bitcoinica, the rest he was daytrading or cashing out in-person through localbitcoin.com.
- They seemed to spend like 30 minutes going around in a circle for pirate to explain that he used a large number of addresses to hide his transaction. Finally he had to spell it out: “It was to keep people from knowing exactly which large – I held most of the large bitcoin addresses on the internet. … they figured out a way to look through the blockchain to find out who has the most bitcoins. Well, for me, I needed a way to hide that.”
- He had some big bet with a bitcointalk poster named Vandroidy. He bet 5000 that he wasn’t a ponzi, apparently this was a big public thing? He had a big plan to publicly “mess” with vandroidy and win the bet, but his plans fell through as his entire business collapsed and he was behind hundreds of thousands of BTC.
- QUESTION: “Did you pay the 5000 bitcoin to Vandroidy?”
- ANSWER: “Oh yeah”<pause>
- QUESTION: “Why?”
- ANSWER: “Because I had to secure the bet”
- Shavers made an unsecured loan of 202,000 bitcoins to BTCST’s largest borrower, who promptly absconded with the funds.
- Shavers admits the July 2, 2012 rate-change announcement on the Bitcoin Forum precipitated a “wave” of withdrawal requests from BTCST investors.
- Pirate took in about 732,050 BTC.
- He paid out about 551,231 BTC…
- 150,649 BTC were transferred from the business wallet to Pirate’s personal accounts with… MT GOX! (deposition was taken in september, everything is silent as to the current status of the coins)
- At least $150,000 was successfully withdrawn as cash for him to live on
- The Fed is using curent exchange rates (3/3/14) to say investors were defrauded of $149 million
Additional food for thought:
Shavers paired with someone called “Big One” and “Number Two” to source coins and interest payments to keep his ponzi (a ponzi within a ponzi) going but he talked about “Big One” manipulating the market. He was basically suggesting that the Mt. Gox crashes that we saw happening on Fridays were his doing and that he had control of so many coins that he would cause a drop in price and scoop them up at lower prices on Friday, sell on Monday and give 10% interest on the invested coins to pirateat40. pirateat40 would then take his investor’s bitcoins, hand them to Big One”, he would drop the price again and reap more interest and then pay it out
Both “Big One” and “Number Two” had access to his bitcointalk account and posted on his behalf too. Silent bitcoin ponzi partners.
And finally, the icing on this cake of hilarity:
All admitted without legal counsel present, because Shavers considers himself a Freeman on the land, and therefore something something gold fringe berth certificate etc. He’s doomed.
Inspired by a comment attempting to answer the question of using Bitcoin without internet access, Buttcoin has launched a brief investigation into how Bitcoin might work if the grid were to go down:
One of our ham radio pals advised us that “the fastest/most common digital protocol on the ham bands is 300 bps.” That’s right: bits per second. How long would it take to download the Bitcoin blockchain (currently approaching a size of 15 GB) at these rates? After some careful calculation (punching things into Wolfram Alpha) we came to 12.6755 years. But this isn’t the end! Taking into account the estimate that you’d only have acceptable propagation about half a day at best, this time would then double to 25.351 years. Add in an estimated 25% for noise-induced errors and you’re now up to 31.68875 years. Add to this the fact that we are coming off the peak of a 22-year solar cycle and that in approximately 11 years, shortwave communications will be drastically hindered compared to our current transmission ability so it wouldn’t be outlandish to estimate 40+ years for this step alone.
Provided there is uninterrupted power and reception for over forty years and that the cheap radios bitcoiners would by last that long, you can now spend your Bitcoin. Don’t forget to wait for your six confirmations, and watch out for the FCC!
Thanks jonny290 for helping us with this stupid and terrible thought experiment!
Please, Bitcoin Jesus, take a moment to inform Darfur War Orphans that water, food, and even air are worthless to you and that they should be eating Bitcoins instead.
Earlier today MtGox put out a press release regarding their issues surrounding halting all withdrawals. Friendly SA Forums goon Begby breaks it down for us here:
Basically when you send bitcoins to someone, there are several inputs in the transaction. Like the destination address, the amount, etc. Based on those inputs you get a transaction ID which is a hash of those inputs. If you want to see if something was confirmed on the blockchain, you can look up that transaction ID.
However, there is an attack you can do. You can actually change the order of the inputs and have the transaction still go through and end up with a different transaction ID.
Here is how the attack works:
1. Hey, MT Gox, I want to withdraw 4 butts to this address.
2. Mt Gox sends you those 4 butts and gets a transaction ID, broadcasts the transaction to get confirmed (basically yells to the internet, hey you stupid miners confirm this)
3. You, the totally awesome hacker, also broadcast the transaction with the inputs in a different order and yell to the internet louder. This results in a different transaction ID if it gets confirmed first.
4. If you yell loud enough, the blockchain confirms your set of inputs. So the transaction went through, but not under the transaction ID that Mt. Gox was expecting.
5. Call up Mt Gox and complain that you didn’t get your butts
6. Mt. Gox looks in their DB for the transaction ID they have on record, tries to look it up in the blockchain and can’t find it so they think it wasn’t confirmed. They then send you the butts again.
This is a well known issue with the bitcoin protocol and other exchanges workaround this by looking up the inputs in the blockchain instead of relying on the transaction ID, and only using the transaction ID after the transaction has been reliably confirmed. Mt. Gox is saying that this is a problem with bitcoin to cover their ass. I am not sure if its even bug. Its more of “don’t assume a transaction ID is legit until the transaction has actually been confirmed”.
So basically Mt. Gox has been getting ass raped by this known exploit for who knows how long, and has resent god knows how many butts. So their internal ledger is completely and totally fucked and they are going to have to go through every transaction they have ever done, look it up in the blockchain by inputs instead of transaction ID, and try to pick up the pieces. This is like finding out that you have accidentally been writing two checks for all your bills and then only realize this when your account goes negative.
TLDR; Mt. Gox got robbed using a well known exploit with an easy workaround that is so well known is not even a top ten issue for the devs. When successful this exploit will cause gox to double send butts to someone on a withdrawal. Who knows how much they double sent, they probably don’t even know.
Edit: Bonus, one of the devs said he had warned Mt. Gox of this several times over the past few years.
Apple Computer, in a stroke of genius trolling, has banned the final Bitcoin wallet app that had managed to sneak past their restrictions on in-app payments. Apple banning such apps is nothing new, but for some reason bitcoiners have become furious, their ineffectual nerd rage manifesting itself in the Bitcoin equivalent of a record- or book-burning:
As news of more and more business accepting Bitcoin spreads, we’d like to take a moment to remind you that none of them are actually accepting Bitcoin. Instead, they rely on often-complex Rube Goldberg-esque “solutions” to sell things and claim they accept Bitcoin.
In most cases, one of two companies get involved. Let’s say Buttcoin wants to accept Bitcoin for the service of mocking and laughing at you. We set up a bank account (a huge one, we’re filthy rich,) and then we contact either Bitpay or Coinbase to do the dirty work for us. They give us buttons and code to insert into our website, then what happens is as follows:
- User buys bitcoins with real money, using some frighteningly shady exchange or ATM.
- User sends bitcoins to Coinbase or Bitpay.
- Some sort of magic occurs; nobody really knows where the funding is from.
- Coinbase or Bitpay send real money to us.
- We mock and laugh at you.
We here at Buttcoin, or Overstock, or the Sacramento Kings, or the Lamborghini dealership, never directly deal with the bitcoins or the risk inherent in selling things for them. Bitpay or Coinbase absorb this risk somehow and deal with the random and violent fluctuations in “value.” In the end, everyone is happy or deluded. The business sees actual currency (whether it’s laundered or not is up to FINCEN to determine,) the middlemen get a cut, and bitcoiners get to shriek and proselytize about how widely accepted Bitcoin is and how it will take over the world, despite having a slew of issues that can’t or won’t be fixed.
I spend too much time on Twitter. It’s unhealthy. I have carefully crafted search filters that show me a never-ending stream of greater fools who preach about Bitcoin, just to keep me up to date on what awful and stupid things are happening in the world of play money. Occasionally I find funny things, but mostly it’s “WTF is a bitcoin” or one of several known nutjobs screaming about “banksters” and PayPal. (I feed these nutjobs’ accounts to a bot and it spews crazy nonsense, it’s great.) But in between legitimate tweets, dumb bots with V for Vendetta masks as their avatars, and the umpteenth white guy making the same unfunny “make it rain bitcoins” “joke,” I find spam.
Lots and lots and lots of spam.
Most of the bitcoin spam is of the “FREE BITCOINS BLUUAARRRGHGHGHG” variety, but some of it’s more interesting, creative, or just plain weird. These come and go pretty quickly, so we’ll have to screencap a few of them.
I’ve often posited that bitcoiners are a largely humorless bunch, and with good reason. Any joke, be it Dogecoin, Coinye, our beloved Cosbycoin, or something else, is seen as an affront to their super-serious world-changing digital revolution. There is no place for humor in our free market new world order.
Despite this, they try, and their efforts could be considered… aggressively unfunny. Since we’re a website ostensibly focused on humor, let’s have a look. First up are “jokes” from a long-running thread at Bitcointalk:
When we last left our intrepid heroes, UberJumper and his nameless (and unlucky) friend, they were meeting random strangers in parking lots and banks, only to be offered sacks full of unactivated Amazon gift cards and rubber checks in exchange for their hoard of early adopter bitcoins. That was weeks ago, and today we’re going to catch up and see how successful they’ve been.
One suggestion that came up over and over again was that they register and confirm their identities with Canadian exchange site CaVirtEx, and cash out there, since Mt Gox has a waiting list that extends into 2015 and other sites are even sketchier. The Canadian Bitcoin ATM is located in another city and wouldn’t be able to handle the volume they’re exchanging. So they finally ended up verified and find themselves halted yet again:
This is awesome. My friend dumps 5 bitcoins on Virtex to sell. Then tries to cash out his monthly max of 3k, and his account is immediately flagged as suspicious and locked.
It was then noted that CaVirtEx has excessively sensitive automated ban/warning systems.
We shall see how long it takes for them to respond to him. Considering it already takes a week apparently for them to send the money via wire transfer.
Someone explain to me how this is easier than paypal?
No one could provide an answer, and as time progressed, UberJumper’s frustration grew more and more apparent. Read more…
These people’s families are going to hate them and there are going to be a lot of kids who end up disappointed that Santa’s an ancap.
2013, a year for the ages: for the first time in history, someone's Christmas was ruined by something called "Bitcoin"
— Clifford Vickrey (@cliffordvickrey) December 23, 2013
I can't wait to spend Christmas Eve with my family answering questions about bitcoin.
— James Reinhart (@jamesreinhart) December 23, 2013
— Patrick (@Paddy_Mack) December 23, 2013
Dear Santa, I want a bitcoin for Christmas. Love, Melissa
— Melissa Kruse (@IssaJay) December 22, 2013
This year for Christmas I'm explaining Bitcoin and the Silk Road to my parents.
— Jesper Andersen (@jandersen) December 22, 2013
just finished sending out my Christmas gifts to my close friends. i’ve given them the best gift this holiday season: the gift of #Bitcoin
— ~C4Chaos (@c4chaos) December 22, 2013
— kenshishido (@kenshishido) December 21, 2013
thinking of the perfect Christmas gift for your loved one? Give Bitcoin
— Malcolm Gordon (@malgordon) December 21, 2013
Everyone, I'm giving out Christmas gifts via Bitcoin tumbler this year.
— Will O'Let it Snow (@WilloTheNight) December 21, 2013
Bitcoin for Christmas.. pretty cool idea.
— Iam A Legman (@Iam_a_LegMan) December 20, 2013
Glad I waited until the last minute to buy everybody Bitcoin for Christmas.
— David Hicks (@ALL_CAPS) December 20, 2013
I'm sending my parents some #bitcoin as a Christmas present. Can't wait for their reaction.
— Jumala Llinen (@Crypt0n0m1c0n) December 20, 2013
Getting everyone I know a tiny fraction of a bitcoin for Christmas cause gift cards are just a little too personal
— Robert Misner (@Wordsicle) December 18, 2013
— Carlos Cardona (@cgcardona) December 19, 2013
Instead of getting my family christmas presents this year, I have invested $20 into bitcoin for each of them
— futons (@TsundereEarth) December 18, 2013
— Bit Nations (@BitNations) December 15, 2013
And my personal favorite, a future serial killer: