Confessions of a Bitcoin Widow: How a Dream Life Turned into a Nightmare | The Walrus

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It was the fall of 2014. Jennifer Robertson was struggling with the aftermath of a messy divorce and juggling weekend waitressing jobs to make ends meet. One night, at the behest of her friends, she agreed to Tinder and met the love of her life.

Reading: Confessions of a bitcoin widow

gerald cotten was a bitcoin entrepreneur. Robertson didn’t know exactly what that meant, but he didn’t think it was necessary. Cotton was smart, successful, and kind. Over the next four years, as his company, Quadrigacx, expanded exponentially, 20-something lovesick cotten and robertson became rich beyond their wildest imaginations. they acquired property, bought yachts and planes, traveled to exotic destinations. so much money came in so fast that they occasionally ended up with huge piles of cash on the kitchen counter.

in november 2018, a month after their wedding in a scottish castle and just twelve days after cotten signed a will naming robertson as executor and sole beneficiary, they embarked on what was supposed to be a long Honeymoon. Instead, suddenly, unexpectedly, almost inexplicably, a seemingly healthy thirty-year-old man died in an intensive care unit in India, due to complications from Crohn’s disease.

Overnight, the life of his dreams became Robertson’s worst nightmare. cotten owned the only key to the online vaults where his clients’ investments were supposedly stored. no one knew where to find $215 million belonging to more than 76,000 investors.

With investigators unable to trace the money and the company seeking protection from creditors, a storm of disconnected points, incendiary innuendo and wild speculation quickly erupted across the internet.

robertson, the online posters insisted, was conspiring with cotten, who had faked his own death and was hiding in an extradition-free backwater until they could meet and live happily ever after. Either Robertson had murdered Cotton and was the real mastermind of a different plot.

The truth didn’t matter much in the months after cotten’s death, as trolls began to stalk and threaten jennifer robertson.

—stephen kimber

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“tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock”. the disembodied voice on the other end of my phone line began in a singsong tone that morphed into what sounded like a death threat. “time is over.” click. they, whoever “they” were, had found me.

Facebook had been the trolls’ first, and perhaps easiest, way to locate me. someone must have identified me from the pictures of me and gerry on my profile page and then used facebook messenger to send creepy messages to my friends. “our money or the violence, your choice jen,” declared one sender, who seemed to have suffered losses in the chariot debacle and blamed me. “I’ll take one for the team and kill jen,” wrote another. soon i started getting baffled messages from facebook friends. “what’s going on?” everyone wanted to know. I contacted facebook. the best the company could suggest was to block trolls from future posts, but of course the damage had already been done. And what about the next person who found out I was that woman?

people found me. They found out my phone number, my email address. soon, my personal information was all over the internet. I stopped answering the phone. i remember others pretending to be friends with gerry, messaging me on platforms like whatsapp, asking me why i hadn’t told people he had died and saying they wanted to go to the funeral. after a few of those messages, I realized that their senders were not who they claimed to be.

I had to change my phone number, close all my social media accounts, and even get a new email address. It felt like being in a movie: I was no longer the director of my own life story. it had turned into a horror movie with me in the role of villain and victim. comments were worse on platforms like reddit, where i was known as “the walking dead jen” and gerry was “supposedly dead gerry”. According to someone calling himself a scammer, I “married a scammer and knowingly [spent] money on fendi and prada, while hard-working Canadians get nothing.”

My family and friends warned me not to read what people wrote about me, but I couldn’t help it. it was like a moth drawn to the flame and then consumed by it. it hurt in a way it shouldn’t have when strangers not only didn’t like me, they seemed to actively hate me. I “deserved to be put in the water for hours and then crucified.” but not only me, my father too. “hangs her dad right in front of jen.” even my dogs! “how about you give us the location of gerry’s dogs so we can set them on fire?”

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that the story of the millions missing from the quadriga generated a media frenzy. but I was still shocked that I was singled out as someone who should be tortured and then killed in various horrible ways. I know some of them were just letting off steam, but others seemed deadly serious.

I was too scared to venture out. After photos of our homes in Fall River, Nova Scotia, and Kelowna, BC were posted online, I spent a few sleepless nights at my mother’s house in Nova Scotia before renting a month-to-month furnished apartment at Bishop’s. landing, a condominium project next to the halifax harbor, on the southern edge of the city.

the harassment was so bad that i called the halifax police. after that, the number of open death threats online decreased. but none of that made me feel safe.

I was spending too much time alone in the apartment, I felt more alone than ever in my life, I paid too much attention to my online stalkers, and worse, I worried that they might be right. who I was? who was gerry was this all my fault? I was more afraid for my life than ever, and yet, in that same contradictory moment, I had begun to wish for nothing more than to be dead. I was afraid of dying, but I didn’t want to live.

I refused to speak to reporters, partly because I wasn’t emotionally ready and partly because I didn’t know enough yet to officially answer questions. That didn’t stop the press from writing stories featuring a version of me I barely recognized. “A Widow, a Laptop, and $190 Million: What’s Happening to Quadrigacx?” demanded a headline in a web-based publication called financial tycoons, which cataloged what it suggested were a “wave of conspiracy theories,” including one that “cotten’s death was faked as a way to hide the fact that the exchange is insolvent. forged by me? for me and gerry plotting together? what did you think had happened inside that icu in india? did you care?

breakermag, another online publication that reported on the cryptocurrency industry, chimed in with a story titled “11 suspicious things about the quadrigacx mystery.” “The more ‘facts’ that come to light, the more fishy it smells,” said reporter Jessica Klein. among the facts that smelled like him: our recent marriage. “You read that right,” Klein continued. “cotten was only married about a month before her alleged death.” alleged? of course.

the globe and mail sent a team of journalists across canada and even to india to uncover as much information as they could, “in an attempt to better understand how [gerry] died, but also to take a look at how A man lived who held the keys to other people’s large sums of money.” Thanks to the gang of reporters, quadriga creditors, and conspiracy theorists who were rummaging through the closets of Gerry’s past, I soon began to learn all kinds of things you didn’t know, and some you didn’t want to know, about gerald cotten.

Even before I met him, Gerry was a well-known and in-demand cryptocurrency advocate. He often spoke at fintech conferences, was a member of the Bitcoin Foundation, and served as an advisor to a nonprofit organization called the Cryptocurrency Certification Consortium. He was frequently interviewed about the bitcoin business and was shown in a 2014 online video in which he helped two preschoolers insert a $100 bill into an early bitcoin ATM in Vancouver to demonstrate how easy it was. convert ordinary cash into cryptocurrency.

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Bitcoin, I learned, is a form of cryptocurrency, which exists only in digital form and can be bought, sold, and valued in transactions that are outside the control of banks or governments. It was launched in 2009 by a mysterious and perhaps fictional person (or persons) operating under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. The first Bitcoin trading transaction took place in 2010, when a computer programmer in Florida bought two Papa John’s pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoins. a few months later, in July 2010, the real value of a single bitcoin skyrocketed from eight ten-thousandths of a dollar to eight cents. But its value continued to rise exponentially, albeit erratically, as bitcoin was discovered by all kinds of investors, from curious financial buffs to anti-establishment activists and even criminals who found the byzantine world of cryptocurrencies an irresistible and convenient means of masking their market. black. transactions.

the value of a bitcoin fluctuated wildly. Consider 2013, for example, the year Gerry started the chariot. earlier that year, he could buy a single bitcoin for $13.28 (all figures in this paragraph are ours). in early April, the same bitcoin was worth $230. a week later, it had fallen back to $68.36. on December 3, the price reached its highest point for the year at $1,237.55 before falling, three days later, to $697.02, a nearly 45 percent collapse. even so, the long-term bullish trend seemed clear.

I tried to square the benign man I had known and loved with the shady con man portrayed in the media.

The truth is that I still knew very little about quadriga or how bitcoin worked. I didn’t even have my own bitcoin account. quadriga was gerry’s business, and that was fine with me. but, after his death, I had to learn fast. I soon had to search for “ponzi scheme”. According to reporters, Gerry had been involved in several similar frauds and scams before meeting him; Among them, he served as a payment processor for a Costa Rica-based digital currency company that, according to Vanity Fair, was “used by drug cartels, human traffickers, child pornographers, and Ponzis to launder money.” Gerry’s business relationship with his former partner, Michael Patryn, dates back to 2003, a time before Bitcoin, when Gerry was only fifteen years old. they had become involved with a website called talkgold, which vanity fair later claimed was “dedicated to high-yield investment programs, or hyips, more commonly known as ponzi schemes.”

I tried to square the benign man I had known and loved: the smartest, funniest, kindest person I had ever met, a man who had taught me so much, the only man I had ever met who offered me unconditionally. love, who made me feel like his number one person forever, with the shady con man depicted in media reports. I couldn’t, everything kept getting worse. the globe and mail tracked down one of gerry’s subcontractors—“part of a network of entities that helped move millions of dollars so quadriga could take deposits and facilitate withdrawals, sometimes in the form of physical bank drafts, for its clients” —for “a beat-up vinyl-sided trailer in rural New Brunswick” rented from Aaron Matthews, one of Gerry’s payment processors, and his wife. the reporter encountered a man on the porch of the trailer who insisted that no one by that name lived there. “He reluctantly says his name is Jim. a short time later, he refuses to answer any further questions. Visibly shaking, he demands that a reporter and photographer leave the property.”

There were, to be fair, larger issues at stake in all of these stories. even if everything about quadriga had been correct, the reality was that the company represented a much bigger problem for everyone involved. In less than a decade, cryptocurrency had grown exponentially in popularity, attracting all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons. if no one in authority (no government, no oversight body, no financial institution) seemed able to regulate the industry or protect consumers, it’s because they couldn’t. cryptocurrencies were devised with the explicit purpose of bypassing the traditional financial world. but of course the messier the industry became, the more susceptible it was to manipulation.

according to a financial prospectus i read later, quadriga claimed to be processing “sixty to ninety percent of the digital currency exchange transaction volume in canada” as of november 2015. in 2017, quadriga processed more than billion dollars (us) in transactions from 363,000 individual accounts. Each side of each transaction generated income for Gerry. meanwhile, the value of bitcoins continued to rise: from around $400 at the beginning of 2016 to over $900 at the end of the year and then to a whopping $13,000 less than a year later. At one point in 2017, Gerry told me that the price of a single bitcoin had risen to $25,000 and he was making $10 million a month.

Although the quadriga website assured customers that “all funds in the [quadriga] system are highly liquid and can be withdrawn at any time”, the reality was that customers had no way of verifying those funds. claims beyond taking gerry’s word for it. they did it. and me too.

The simple fact is that Gerry should never have been in a position to pull all the levers of a multi-billion dollar company without internal or external oversight. he knows now so he didn’t know he didn’t think he needed it.

when gerry mentioned business problems to me, he was always vague. he knew that he was frustrated with mainstream banks, which he considered “anti-bitcoin.” He would occasionally vent about finding some way to get the chariot out of the banking system altogether, but I took it that Gerry was speaking as a legitimately aggrieved party, a cryptocurrency entrepreneur ahead of his time whose business was being unfairly crippled by loathing. to risk. bankers who wanted to control the bitcoin industry.

i remember gerry telling me how careful he was to make sure his business was above reproach. He boasted that Quadriga had been the first cryptocurrency exchange in Canada to hold a money services business license from the Financial Transactions and Reporting Analysis Center of Canada, the country’s anti-money laundering authority. so I didn’t worry.

In February 2019, shortly after Quadriga filed for creditor protection, I met with the court-appointed monitor, a serious middle-aged man named George Kinsman. The meeting was suggested by Richard Niedermayer, a lawyer he had hired to help me with the complicated matters surrounding Gerry’s estate. Kinsman was a Halifax-based partner at Ernst and Young who ran an Atlantic restructuring practice and, according to his LinkedIn profile, had spent “over twenty years providing solutions to corporate entities facing financial challenges.”

“you really should meet him”, I remember niedermayer suggesting. “You are someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. once he gets to know you, he will realize that you are not capable of anything criminal. maybe if he can put a face to the name, you can build a relationship with him.”

didn’t work that way.

Niedermayer and I met a relative in a large boardroom at the law firm of stewart mckelvey in downtown halifax. she had a job to do: find out what had happened to the money, and then recover as much as possible for quadriga’s clients.

In the weeks and months that followed, I delivered every email, every text message, every electronic device, every bit of information requested. Even after I had answered every question about every personal expense from the previous year, for example, the emails kept pressing. why did you buy this? why did you do that? I wanted to tell him the truth: “because we had a lot of money. because we could.” sometimes, in his heat, she overdid it. At one point, he emailed Niedermayer to complain about a $90,000 payout to what he called a high-end travel company in Kelowna. he had no idea what he was talking about; when i checked, the high end travel company was a la-z-boy store that had supplied all the furniture we bought for our house in kelowna.

On March 5, 2019, all the lawyers flocked back to court in Halifax for a hearing on Quadriga’s request for a forty-five-day extension of his creditor protection as the monitor continued to try to figure out where had the money gone? A few days earlier, Ernst and Young had released its latest report, documenting its very limited success to date in recovering what is now estimated to be $215 million in cash and cryptocurrency that Quadriga allegedly held at the time it ceased trading. .

the report did not cast a favorable light on quadriga—or gerry. the monitor said he had found a quadriga account at a Canadian credit union containing $245,000. The account had been frozen since 2017. Ernst and Young also noted that the company had “been unable to locate or provide” formal accounting books or financial records, and the law firm was now trying to determine if Quadriga had ever filed any Canadian taxes. . returns. never filed taxes? I couldn’t believe that. How many times had gerry criticized me about “trudeau’s greedy government” or had he complained about the “millions of dollars” he had to pay in taxes?

another problem involved something called “portfolios”. Since you cannot hold cryptocurrencies in conventional bank accounts, people use virtual wallets to store and protect their holdings. wallets do not contain actual cryptocurrencies, but are just tools for managing the blockchain – the official record of what has been bought and sold. “hot wallets” are connected to the internet and investors can use them to buy, sell and trade cryptocurrencies with other users in real time. The downside of hot wallets is that because they are connected to the internet, they are vulnerable to hackers. which is where “cold wallets” come into the picture. they exist offline, often on usb sticks and cd’s, so they’re more secure, but that makes it harder and slower to move them online to buy, sell, and trade.

ernst and young had managed to identify six quadriga cold wallets so far, but had found almost nothing inside any of them. In fact, it seemed as if the bitcoins tracked by the wallets had been transferred in the months before Gerry’s death. transferred by whom? where? why? “To date,” the report noted, “the applicants have not been able to identify a reason why Quadriga may have stopped using the identified bitcoin cold wallets for deposits in April 2018. However, monitoring and management will continue to checking the quadriga database for more information.”

The monitor had written to ten of quadriga’s third-party payment processors to request the funds they held on behalf of the company. so far, that effort had generated a measly $5,000. “Further help from the court may be needed,” Ernst and Young suggested in legal terms, “to secure the funds and records of some of the third-party processors.”

ernst and young had also contacted fourteen cryptocurrency exchanges where he believed the company, or gerry, had opened trading accounts. The report noted that those accounts appeared to have been “artificially” created outside of Quadriga’s own normal process, using aliases that no one could connect to a real customer, and that these accounts had been “subsequently used for trading.” by gerry? so far, only four of the exchanges had responded, and only one of them had confirmed that he even had “a minimal cryptocurrency” on behalf of quadriga.

The only silver lining in all of this was that rbc finally agreed to deposit usd 25.3 million in court-held cibc wire transfers into an account for disbursements. (Cibc had delayed releasing the money for about a year in a dispute over who owned it.) the problem, as far as quadriga’s clients were concerned, was how the monitor planned to fork out the initial tranche of money. Ernst and Young would receive $200,000 and their attorneys $250,000. another $230,000 would go to quadriga’s attorneys and $17,000 would be set aside to pay quadriga’s remaining contractors who had been working with the monitor.

but the largest single payment mentioned was a “refund of shareholder advances” of $300,000. that was to reimburse me for the amount I had agreed to contribute from my personal accounts to cover the costs associated with the company’s initial creditor protection.

the lawyers representing quadriga’s creditors weren’t happy about any of it, let alone the idea that I was entitled to the lion’s share, even though I had lent the money to the company in the first place. . They noted that Ernst and Young had asked my lawyers for more information, as well as an agreement to freeze my assets while they reviewed the information we provided. “The contemplated reimbursement,” the creditors’ lawyers explained in a letter to the court, “is inappropriate until the monitor has reviewed the requested information and ascertained the source of the funds used to finance the ccas [creditors of the companies]. ]. settlement act] procedure.”

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In the end, none of the money I lent the company, totaling $490,000, was ever repaid. I voluntarily provided the amount from what I considered my personal bank account at the time, even though my finances had become entangled with Gerry’s and Quadriga’s.

I still found it difficult, though no longer impossible, to believe that gerry could have intentionally done something wrong.

At this point, all I wanted to do was wash my hands of the whole thing. in preparation for the hearing, i had to prepare another affidavit on behalf of the company, recommending the appointment of a new director who could sort out the tangled issues of quadriga and then sell the platform to someone else, anyone else, so that i could finally cry for the man she had loved.

I still found it difficult, though no longer impossible, to believe that gerry could have intentionally done anything wrong. I resisted allowing myself to go there. The truth was, she still loved Gerry. a part of me felt as if our life together had been a dream, the best dream you could imagine, and now it was time to wake up. but to what? I spent a lot of time thinking, examining, shuffling, trying to figure things out in my head that never worked out.

richard niedermayer understood that my sanity depended on putting chariot in my rearview mirror. he suggested approaching a relative with a proposed arrangement that would allow me to get out of the quagmire the chariot had become, keep what was mine, and start making a new life for myself. At the time, I had about $12 million in property, cash, and other assets in my own name and as Gerry’s executor. we already knew that the monitor believed that some of those assets might belong to quadriga. so we proposed that he keep $5 million, mostly in rental properties from robertson nova, the residential property management company i built with gerry’s capital, while turning over everything else to the monitor and giving up any future interest in quadriga, including any platform. could finally sell. we thought that was a generous offer.

niedermayer had agreed to work on the details. he was now on the phone again with what he assumed was an update on the negotiations. that deal, he just told me, it’s not going to happen.

Ernst and Young’s investigation, Niedermayer explained, had now concluded that Quadriga’s investor money was not just missing. Gerry had stolen it. he created fake accounts with fake names like “aretwo deetwo” and “seethree peaohh”, filled the accounts with fake cryptocurrencies and then used them to make real trades, betting that the value of the cryptocurrencies would increase and he would make money. . he didn’t instead the value fell and kept falling. Gerry had lost at least $100 million that Ernst and Young had been able to trace so far. another $80 million remained unaccounted for. Worse yet, Gerry had commingled Quadriga’s income with his own, using funds belonging to Quadriga investors to finance his lifestyle. our life style! our lives!

“there must be something they don’t understand”, I remember insisting to niedermayer. “I mean, this is bitcoin. they just don’t understand bitcoin. i dont understand bitcoin and gerry was great at making trades. did daily transactions, questrade. he was making money all the time.” she was babbling “do you see three peas? Gerry wasn’t even a huge Star Wars fan. Why would he do it? . . . I mean, gerry loved to gamble. It is true. we went to the casinos every time we traveled and had fun, but gerry was always the one to say, ‘we’ve spent enough. let’s go home.’” he was almost pleading now. “there has to be a mistake. gerry is so smart. if he hadn’t died, he could have explained… ”

niedermayer, I remember, he calmly interrupted me. “It doesn’t really matter,” she replied, “because gerry isn’t here. if he hadn’t died, maybe none of this would have happened. but he died and left nothing, no instructions, nothing. so now it’s all a matter of interpretation. and the monitor has decided that this is the only interpretation that makes sense.”

I hung up the phone and tried to fit all the puzzle pieces that I hadn’t been able (or wanted) to put in their logical places. I no longer denied that all the money the monitor said was missing really was. but how had it disappeared? I still couldn’t understand or accept it. And, more importantly, why?

All I knew was that I felt empty, drained. How much worse could it get? And then, in the middle of all that, I thought of how much I missed Gerry, how much I needed him now. A magnifying glass aimed at a wedding ring reveals intricate finger prints upon closer investigation. Ernst and Young, appointed by the court to sort out Quadriga’s financial situation, had decided it was time to shift Quadriga from creditor protection to bankruptcy proceedings. Bankruptcy would reduce costs for the company, so there would be more to distribute among Quadriga’s thousands of creditors. Ernst and Young could now move on from its monitoring role to become Quadriga’s trustee in bankruptcy.

the remaining question was how much of the chariot’s missing funds ernst and young could recover. quadriga had 76,319 creditors of record, virtually all of them clients, who collectively claimed they were owed $214.6 million. So far, Ernst and Young had recovered just $32 million in cash, much of which was previously frozen CIBC funds. was tracking another million or so in the hands of uncooperative third-party payment processors, and bankruptcy would give the trustee the “right to compel production of documents and seek examination of relevant parties under oath” .

The only other source of quadruple funds ripe for recovery, the monitor suggested, were those assets I believed were rightfully mine. “During the course of the Monitor’s investigation into Quadriga’s business and affairs, the Monitor became aware of instances where the corporate and personal boundaries between Quadriga and its founder, Gerald Cotten, were not formally maintained, and the Monitor advised It appeared that the quadriga funds may have been used to acquire assets held outside the corporate entity.” ernst and young wanted me to voluntarily agree to what is known as an asset preservation order, so that it could do its job “without worrying that assets possibly recoverable to applicants’ interested parties may be dissipated.”

I had no intention of disposing of any of those assets. When I initially tried to sell the plane and boat after Gerry’s death, my sole purpose was to provide emergency funds to keep the chariot running. when I transferred my real estate to a trust, it was at the behest of my attorney to protect what we then genuinely believed to be my assets from becoming entangled in quadriga’s messy business affairs.

but, if i didn’t immediately agree to the asset preservation proposal, under which ernst and young would allow me to continue to operate robertson nova under their supervision and earn a living, as long as i didn’t try to sell any property or move their property any further beyond the jurisdiction of the court: ernst and young would escalate matters and ask the court for something called a mareva injunction, a remedy that I understood would mean I was involved in fraud, freeze all my assets, and put my life under the total control of ernst and young.

I accepted that asset preservation was my best option. under the terms of the order, he would receive $10,000 a month. that may seem reasonable — and it could have been—except that I had to use that money not only to cover my current expenses but also to maintain aspects of a lifestyle that gerry and I had lived but could no longer afford, and yet , due to the court order, he could not easily get rid of it. I was still responsible for maintenance, insurance, taxes, etc. of our house in kelowna, for example, but I wasn’t allowed to sell it without the trustee’s permission. it was another asset to keep and pay for until someone other than me decided what to do with it.

I too continued to be regularly ridiculed in the press and online. Along with Gerry, I continued to be the villain of this story. In early June, the FBI announced that it was trying to identify victims of Gerry’s fraud to “provide them with information, support services, and resources.” Coindesk, a cryptocurrency news site, reported that Australian authorities had even gotten involved. Australia? he knew he needed to find a way out of this swamp. i went to niedermayer and told him that he had had more than enough. I was ready to write an ending to this chapter of my life. Rather than haggle over the details in court, he wanted to make a deal with the trustee to start over.

At the time, the value of the assets he nominally controlled (all of which were under the asset preservation order) totaled about $12 million. Niedermayer and I talked about how much of that he could keep in a deal. not much, she said. The reality was that we would be negotiating not only with the bankruptcy trustee, but also with a committee representing those described as Quadriga’s “affected users” – duped investors who understandably wanted every penny Gerry took out of Quadriga back. . i told niedermayer that if it really was his money and that had been proven, then they should have it. he should go back to them.

I decided to propose a financial settlement that I believed would be sufficient to satisfy quadriga’s creditors while allowing me to push reinstatement. On October 7, 2019, Ernst and Young agreed to a deal in which I transferred all assets, including cash, investments, vehicles, loans, and real estate. In exchange, I kept what the settlement called “excluded assets”: $90,000 in cash, my $20,000 rsp, my 2015 Jeep Cherokee with a book value of $19,000, my jewelry (including my wedding ring and a pink sapphire ring I had purchased in Greece, valued at $8,700, but not my engagement ring), personal furniture up to a value of $15,000, and my “clothing and similar personal effects”. the trustee justified his decision to give me that amount because “the estimated aggregate net realizable value of the excluded assets is likely to be less than the costs that would have been incurred in bringing the trustee’s claims against mrs. robertson, the estate and the controlled entities.”

In other words, it was cheaper for them to settle than to pay lawyers to fight me in court. My own attorney put it another way: Since the assets I gave up were estimated to be worth $12 million, I ended up with a little over 1 percent of the total value.

I didn’t fall in love with gerald cotten because of his wealth. when we met, he didn’t have that much, at least not by the fairy tale standards Quadriga would impose on us just a few years later. It was a bonus when the value of a single bitcoin shot through the roof and Gerry seemed to be making more money than we could spend in a couple of lifetimes. I won’t lie: I loved being rich. I loved not having to ask, “can I pay for that?” I could, whatever it was. We could buy a house in Nova Scotia, another in British Columbia, even our own island with a yacht, not just a sailboat, to get there. we could travel to exotic places.

It took me longer than many others to appreciate the extent of gerry’s deception. Like much of the rest of the world, I learned about Gerry’s fraud little by little. it turned, slowly at first and then suddenly, into a torrent of doubt that turned into an inexorable torrent of accusations and finally a tidal wave of irrefutable evidence that nearly swallowed me whole. what if gerry really had been a bad person? He had loved a bad person? if he had, would that also make me a bad person?

But even as the evidence piled up daily in front of me, forming the story of a secretive, manipulative, deceitful and even criminal gerry, I clung to the belief that he must have had a plan. If he hadn’t died, I kept repeating to myself, Gerry would have been able to solve Quadriga’s cash flow problems, open up the cold wallets, make sure the company’s investors got what they were owed, and fix it all back in our world. Now I know that was not true.

This article was adapted with permission from Bitcoin Widow: Love, Betrayal, and the Missing Millions by Jennifer Robertson with Stephen Kimber, Published by Harpercollins Canada in 2022.

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