back to article Put the crypt into cryptocoin: Amid grave concerns, lawyers to literally dig into exchange exec who died owing $190m

A group of aggrieved crypto-coin investors want to exhume the corpse of a digital money exchange boss in a bid to find their missing millions. Lawyers representing the out-of-pocket Quadriga CX punters have filed a request [PDF] to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to dig up and examine the body of Gerald Cotten, the deceased …

  1. Brian Miller

    Schrödinger's BitCoin

    Is he or isn't he dead? One might think that before the body was in the ground a reasonable effort had been made to identify the corpse. One also might monitor the relatives, and do traces of the ledgers to see where all of this funny money went.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Schrödinger's BitCoin

      "One might think that before the body was in the ground a reasonable effort had been made to identify the corpse."

      If I remember correctly, they were on holiday in India at the time of his 'death'. A quick few rupees to a doctor and you can get a piece of paper saying anything you want.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Schrödinger's BitCoin

        I must be suffering from memory rot - I'm sure I remember a report that he had been cremated in India. Apparently not, it seems.

        1. iron Silver badge

          Re: Schrödinger's BitCoin

          No I'm pretty sure the reports at the time said he'd been cremated in India. Leaving a 'body' was very stupid, unless of course its just someone with the same dental records.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Schrödinger's BitCoin

            Perhaps they thought they'd cremated him, but it turned out he'd shifted his identity to another body using an alias.

  2. robidy

    He's dead.

    Yours,

    J Bingham and R Maxwell

    1. eldakka Silver badge

      He's dead.

      (Please don't reply, I will be out of contact sailing the oceans on my brand new yacht).

  3. Imhotep

    Dead in some places, but not in others

    They say you can't take it with you, but I think he did.

    1. mt_head

      Re: Dead in some places, but not in others

      Where are all the good men dead -

      In the heart, or in the head?

  4. johnrobyclayton

    Crohn's Disease + Indian Food = Easily Faked Death

    If you have Crohn's disease and want to fake your own death, India is the place to do it.

    1. Adam JC

      Re: Crohn's Disease + Indian Food = Easily Faked Death

      Being someone with crohns disease who's had a perforated bowel and sepsis in the UK - And even then, almost died as a complication - I'd be horrified to fall seriously ill in India. Having said that, the circumstances are almost impossible to raise suspicions...

  5. Winkypop Silver badge
    FAIL

    Investors were fooled

    The minute they bought into crypto-nothing-coin

    1. spold Silver badge

      Re: Investors were fooled

      I believe it is now on a parity with the Norwegian Blue.

  6. sbt Silver badge
    Pirate

    Having identified where the money went ...?

    Any transactions on his personal wallets would show someone alive has the keys/password(s), you'd have thought.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Having identified where the money went ...?

      I would have assumed that he converted the money or some of it into a nontraceable cryptocurrency (zcash, for example) or something physical so he could live well without making any other withdrawals for a while. But given that it took these people several months to figure out that any money was missing, it's also possible that he has been withdrawing regularly and they haven't figured it out yet.

      1. headrush

        Re: Having identified where the money went ...?

        Most of the money is in the form of crypto currency. That is why it is irretrievable without the passwords or private keys. It is trivial to check the corresponding public keys against the ledger to determine whether the funds have moved.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is an exhumation to confirm identity only, not cause of death.

    Dental records should be enough, as the body will have been embalmed for shipping to Canada and that really messes up DNA.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      DNA wouldn't be required to establish cause of death but state of preservation might impede determination of cause of death. Old-fashioned dental records would help with ID along with any injuries in life such as bones broken and re-set.

  8. veti Silver badge

    What took them so long?

    Didn't we all think of this when the story first broke that he'd died? Why are they only getting around to checking on him now?

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: What took them so long?

      Exhumation takes a long time, especially when the family don't want it.

      And of course his wife doesn't want this - either she's in on a crime and fears exposure, or she isn't and wants his body to decompose in peace.

  9. doublelayer Silver badge

    What's the point?

    This investigation can end one of two ways:

    There's a body there, and it's him:

    Meaning: The money was stolen by someone else, and we don't know who. Let's see if we can track any records of their activities to identify and find them.

    There is someone else's body there, or they've found a way of faking a body being shipped around the world and buried:

    Meaning: He almost certainly was the one to steal the money, and is somewhere else. As his identity is now believed dead, he's not using that identity anymore. Let's see if we can track any records of his activities to identify and find his new identity about which we have no details.

    Either way, the answer will be to try to track the person who has access to the stolen funds. It doesn't really matter if we know that it is or isn't him, because whoever it is is going to be hiding somewhere and not announcing their true identity. Until the person is found, nobody can get their money back and no charges can be pressed.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: What's the point?

      It does matter because it determines what to investigate.

      If he's not buried there, then there is a description to search for - people are generally very bad at completely disappearing, he will make mistakes. (Like Canoe Man did, et al)

      If he is buried there, then that closes the line of enquiry, no need to spend further resources trying to find him.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: What's the point?

        The problem with that plan is that, if the money was stolen by someone in connection with his death or he faked the death, all the evidence is in exactly the same place and time, namely the days around the theft and the death, whether fabricated or not. A description of a person might work if you have some idea where that person is and enough details to identify them later on. However, we do not have any good idea where he could be now, and he's had plenty of time to disguise himself. Even without having put a lot of effort into a disguise or obtaining plastic surgery, the generic description of a person as provided for most people would be of no help at all when our search area is the entire planet.

        Logically, the best course of action in determining where the money is is to try to track that money. Whether it's him who has it or someone else, they can best be identified by tracking where the money is being spent.

        If we know with certainty that it is, in fact, that man who stole the money and faked his death, we will still need to track any accounts that may hold information and those connected to the wallets to find him. If we know with certainty that he is dead and therefore someone else stole the money, our best chance of identifying that person is to check on his accounts for pertinent communications and monitor the accounts connected to the money. Either way, the course of action is the same.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: What's the point?

      There's another option:

      He stole the money himself, and died of natural causes (although I suppose stress about being caught might not have helped his health).

      Seriously, practically everyone else involved in crypto-currencies seems to be a scammer, why would you assume that this guy was a victim and not the perpetrator?

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: What's the point?

        Or he stole the money himself, and was murdered for it, either by someone who had a scheme for getting the money from him, or simply for revenge. Or the money was stolen by a group of collaborators including Cotten, and they decided to reduce the number of beneficiaries. Or he was killed for some reason unrelated to the cryptocoin heist, because people who are willing to violate the trust of others often don't confine themselves to a single infraction.

        And so on. Really there are quite a few possible permutations.

  10. ThatOne Silver badge
    Devil

    Pleonasm alert

    > an exhumation and postmortem autopsy

    Well, that's fortunate because a pre-mortem autopsy usually just concludes that it has been the cause of death.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Pleonasm alert

      Ah, vivisection. Such heady days.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Pleonasm alert

      Simplifies establishing time of death, though.

  11. trevorde

    Rumours

    "Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated"

    - Gerald Cotten

  12. headrush

    For some insight, possibly apocryphal, read this report on Quadriga at Vanity Fair.

    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/11/the-strange-tale-of-quadriga-gerald-cotten

    1. Imhotep

      Excellent article that makes the case that Quadriga was just the latest in a long string of scams by Mr Cotten.

  13. Milton Silver badge

    Why so long?

    I'm not the only one wondering why it's taken so long for serious questions and proper investigation of Cotten's passing. I guess that in the first days there was (a) a body and a death certificate and (b) no suspicion of wrongdoing: so the processes for dealing with the purported death will have been drearily quotidian. One obvious question, mind you: who identified the body, and when and where?

    Whether or not the body proves to be his, further questions will presumably focus closely on the aliases he used—both the known ones, associated with the dodgy transactions, and exposing other aliases not yet known. The latter will of course be of profound interest to investigators if the body is not his: a thread to pull on when tracking him and the missing money.

    Fascinating story, come what may ...

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Why so long?

      "taken so long"? QuadrigaCX only shut its doors and received temporary protection from creditors in late January - less than a year ago. It takes time to force a private investigation through the courts. This one seems pretty sprightly to me.

  14. the future is back!

    My two coin

    Now THAT’S what I call a dead issue.

  15. Cardinal

    "WHAT THE ****!!!!"

    Meanwhile, in a middle-priced room in a mid-level hotel in Middlesborough UK, an average looking man of middling years, with some recent minor facial scarring, coughs his breakfast cereal all over the bed as he opens up 'El Reg' for his usual morning read!

  16. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    The search for the thumb drive inserted into a deep dark place will not stop at simply finding the body...

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