OPINION / ANALYSIS
Gerald Cotten is a wanted man.
Cotten was the head of the infamous QuadricaCX, a large cryptocurrency exchange based in Canada that turned out to be a massive Ponzi scheme.
The customers he ripped off continue to hunt him down, even though he is officially “dead.” Some of them lost their life savings to the scam and are desperately looking to recover the stolen funds.
The story is that Cotten died from complications from Crohn’s disease while he was India. His wife claimed the two were there to build an orphanage.
However, many dispute that narrative, instead presenting a theory that Gerald Cotten faked his own death, and ran away with millions of investor dollars.
Is it possible that Gerald Cotten faked his own death, and is living under a pseudonym in another country? Let’s look at where the evidence leads.
Scam of the century
Gerald Cotten launched Quadriga in December 2013 with the stated intention of making it easier for Canadians to buy Bitcoin.
The company made plans to go public, but Cotten found the work to be overwhelming, and the plans were cancelled in early 2016. At this point, Cotten became the sole director of the company.
Cotten used a spoof account to buy Bitcoin with fake Canadian dollars, and to buy Canadian dollars with fake Bitcoin.
The scam began to collapse in 2018 after the price of Bitcoin started to fall, causing customers to cash out. At this point Cotten started running out of money to pay them.
In addition, the banks began freezing accounts linked to Quadriga.
Gerald Cotten reportedly died while travelling to India with his wife in 2018. The two had recently married, and were on their honeymoon. The couple had plans to build an orphanage.
Cotten and his wife landed in Jaipur with the plan of spending four nights in the city. However, soon after checking into their hotel, Cotten complained of stomach pains.
The couple went to a hospital. The second day, Cotten’s condition worsened, and he suddenly died. A death certificate was produced, oddly, his name was misspelled.
This has lead to speculation the death certificate was a forgery. But there is evidence that suggests otherwise.
While the circumstances of Gerald Cotten’s supposed death are indeed strange, the story checks out on closer inspection. Not only was a death certificate issued, but a journalist from the Globe and Mail travelled to India and spoke to the doctor that treated him.
There have been no sightings of Cotten since his wife announced his death. No evidence that he has accessed the funds that were said to be lost.
Based on media reports, Cotten’s wife is not exactly living a life of luxury.
It is highly unlikely she would travel to Canada with a fake body, or someone else’s body, then subject herself to constant media scrutiny and legal issues.
It is most likely that Cotten actually did die during his trip to India from an unexpected freak, medical issue. That is what the evidence suggests.
Unfortunately, the people that lost money to Quadriga are out of luck, and are best moving on. Sort of like the guy that accidentally threw out his hard drive containing all his Bitcoins.
That’s not to excuse the actions of Mr. Cotten, and say that what he did was okay. Rather, the time spent hunting down a long dead Gerald Cotten could be better used. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on. There are lessons to be learned here; many morals to this story.
This is a story about greed, but also about loss. In the pursuit of riches, people can become greedy, and make bad decisions. Some people lose more than what they had to begin with.
Cotten wanted money, and he wanted it fast, but he didn’t stop to think about the people he was hurting in the process.
It’s also peculiar how an otherwise healthy man could die at such a young age. But, perhaps this says more about the fragility of life, than it does to point to some elaborate conspiracy.