Blackmail fail

In which the author receives surprising offers from kind strangers
cryptography, Bitcoin, personal
2013-12-102019-05-19 finished certainty: log importance: 2

In Sep­tem­ber 2012, I was extorted for $32 for being gwern; I declined to pay. In Novem­ber 2013, I called an encryp­tion bluff that I was Dread Pirate Roberts. In Decem­ber 2013, a crazy per­son tried to black­mail me for bil­lions of dol­lars for being Satoshi Nakamo­to; I declined to pay. In March 2014, the DNM Evo­lu­tion threat­ened to dox me if I did not reveal infor­ma­tion about their secu­rity vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. In Feb­ru­ary 2015, an Agora user doxed me in an unex­pected way and I paid a small boun­ty.

Weird things hap­pen on the Inter­net, . I have long been inter­ested in cryp­to­graphic top­ics, and in June 2011, I began research­ing the new dark­net mar­kets (DNMs), as epit­o­mized by (SR). Between my sus­tained cov­er­age of DNM top­ics, occa­sional inter­ven­tions like my Sheep-MarketPlace/BlackMarket-Reloaded bet, and my minor role in the dox­ing of Sheep Mar­ket­Place’s own­er, and my essays & , I have been some­times accused of being more involved than I appear - pos­si­bly Dread Pirate Roberts (re­ally Ross Ulbricht), 1, a high­-level sell­er, a law enforce­ment agent, or other things.

While some­times flat­ter­ing (I wish I was Satoshi Nakamo­to!), these are all quite wrong: I am but an impov­er­ished writer who barely makes ends meet, and cer­tainly not a Bit­coin bil­lion­aire or elite C++ P2P crypto pro­gram­mer, though I write about Bitcoin/cryptography/DNMs. Still, some tinge of noto­ri­ety can be use­ful if it means peo­ple are will­ing to tell me pri­vate infor­ma­tion. On the other hand, some­times it is plain irri­tat­ing. They don’t always go any­where. Here are some exam­ples of things that went nowhere, or at least, not where I wanted them to go.

Pseudonymity bounty

Prompted by my bounty to nwerg, I am mak­ing a stand­ing offer of $15 (~₿0.01 as of July 2016) to any­one who can de-anonymize me in a way I do not already know about or which is impres­sive. To claim it, email me at with my name, the method, and a Bit­coin address. (As of Decem­ber 2017, I have paid out 2 boun­ties, and 3 have declined pay­ment; for the ~3 ear­lier deanonymiza­tions, I did not have a bounty set up. There have also been a few wrong attempts to claim the boun­ty, some sur­pris­ingly con­vinc­ing look­ing.)



10 September

On 2012-09-10, I returned from my din­ner to dis­cover in my inbox news of a mes­sage some­one sent me at 4:55PM using my anony­mous feed­back form:

I signed up user­names “gwern” and “gwern­bran­wen” at pivory.­com
I will release login info to you for a ran­som.
The ran­som value decreases over time fol­low­ing expo­nen­tial decay with a half-life of 365/2=182.5 days.
It starts at 32 USD on 2012-09-11. I’ll allow a 1 day pre­ci­sion.
Pay­ment is to be sent as Bit­coin using MtGox aver­age price to 1LtiftPcu3AjTbXf2XFCbvNTaeRFL1yBAy
After 365 days I will start using the accounts.

Oh no! I was being extorted over a user­name on some forum site called Pivory. Was I going to pay up $32 to res­cue my dop­pel­ganger from the clutches of a sin­is­ter extor­tion­ist? Did he plan to post threats against the Pres­i­dent or child porn on this site to besmirch my good name? I knew I had to act swiftly to stanch the dam­age!

I told him no.

More pre­cise­ly, I posted the fol­low­ing signed mes­sage to Google+ and a pri­vate mail­ing list, pub­licly com­mit­ting to not pay­ing him a sin­gle satoshi:

Hash: SHA512

CCing cheshirecats as site owner; CCing OB-NYC as witnesses.

> gwern
> I signed up usernames "gwern" and "gwernbranwen" at
> I will release login info to you for a ransom.
> The ransom value decreases over time following exponential decay with a half-life of 365/2=182.5 days.
> It starts at 32 USD on 2012-09-11. I'll allow a 1 day precision.
> Payment is to be sent as Bitcoin using MtGox average price to 1LtiftPcu3AjTbXf2XFCbvNTaeRFL1yBAy
> After 365 days I will start using the accounts.

Your message in my anonymous site feedback form leaves me deeply
amused, and I applaud your courtesy in setting the 365-day ransom at a
modest $8 (2 half-lives from $32); but I'm afraid I must decline your
offer permanently.

Since there are indefinitely many Internet sites which allow user
signups and publicly visible comments, accepting an extortion on any
of them for any amount exposes me to indefinitely large losses. Hence
by backward induction, there is a clear decision-theoretic verdict
against paying you any sum.

- --
Version: GnuPG v1.4.15 (GNU/Linux)


(See and for back­ground. I think my lit­tle argu­ment may not be quite right, but it’s still clear that a pre­com­mit­ment to not pay­ing in such cir­cum­stances is opti­mal for the same rea­son one pre­com­mits to not nego­ti­ate with hostage-­tak­ers etc.)


One curi­ous aspect was that the pay­ment declined with time, rather than, as one would expect, increase with time as a penal­ty. Michael O’Kelly in the Google+ com­ments pointed out that the scheme was also in con­flict with /learning:

Am I miss­ing some­thing, or would it make more sense for the ran­som to increase expo­nen­tial­ly? You will only really be tempted to pay if Pivory becomes the hot new thing, which becomes less ambigu­ous with time.

I the­o­rized that it was not moti­vated by a par­tic­u­lar eco­nomic or deci­sion-the­o­retic con­sid­er­a­tion, but more of a psy­cho­log­i­cal hack:

Michael: I fig­ured it was an attempt to hack con­ve­nience; if I paid up quick­ly, he’d make the most. Most peo­ple would not be patient enough to wait. (You’re right that you and I would choose a com­pound­ing strat­e­gy, like any reg­u­lar extor­tion­ist, to instead incen­tivize quick pay­ment by all sorts of peo­ple.)

Of course, he must not know me very well, because if he did, he would’ve known that I would sim­ply put pay­ment on my cal­en­dar for a year from now and pay as lit­tle as pos­si­ble, or bet­ter yet, wait for him to actu­ally start using the accounts and only pay­ing up if it looked like he could do some dam­age with it.

Арсений Алексеев pointed out an addi­tional fail­ing if we took the psy­cho­log­i­cal view, that the extor­tion­ist pro­vided a clear dead­line and so there was less incen­tive to pay to reduce uncer­tainty (dis­like of uncer­tainty seems related to ):

You would be tempted to pay early if the end­ing date was unknown. I am sur­prised he made that pub­lic.

Final­ly, Joshua Zelin­sky spec­u­lated on broader impli­ca­tions of the extor­tion­ist’s fail­ure:

This sug­gests that peo­ple only take seri­ously when it isn’t made explic­it. If one thinks that makes more sense though then this ran­som does­n’t really work.


I made 2 pre­dic­tions about how my anony­mous extor­tion­ist would react to my pub­lic dec­la­ra­tion:

  1. He will reply: 65%

    If he spent the time reg­is­ter­ing the user­name and con­tact­ing me, after such a rebuke, I expected a reply if only to jus­tify his pecu­liar pay­ment sched­ule. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I was wrong and as of 2013-12-15, I have not heard a peep from him, and fur­ther, the Bit­coin address 1LtiftPcu3AjTbXf2XFCbvNTaeRFL1yBAy has been inac­tive since.

  2. He will not attempt a sec­ond extor­tion: 65%

    As I said at the time, “if it did­n’t work the first time, why would it work else­where?” Indeed. I’d said no and given a gen­eral expla­na­tion of why I could not pay for the entire class of extor­tion attempts.

I paid noth­ing and suf­fered no harm, so I regard this mostly as an amus­ing exam­ple of the use of Bit­coin for extor­tion.



7 November

At 5:13PM I received a curi­ous PM on Red­dit:

Sorry for all the trou­ble I caused. I know I fuck up alot. This privnote con­tains every­thing to cover your ass, its how I con­nected you to you. Sorry for fuck­ing up what you had. I was just des­per­ate and was try­ing to cling to any­thing I could. You won’t let me vend prop­er, you won’t leave me alone and just let me do my thing. I felt like I had noth­ing else to turn to, and if you were going to sink my ship, I would to yours. My dog died today because we could­n’t afford her med­ica­tion. Such is life. Here is the pgp if you don’t want to click that link. It for­mat­ted proper in pgp. —–BEGIN PGP MESSAGE—– Ver­sion: GnuPG v2.0.22 (Ming­W32) hQIMA8J30uIoggNFAQ/9GJDAeJ3P+C7oqcV6deaYXpIStWzSPgF5jhcLgrCHZ7c9 gf16Qi7F1p/HFN7WgarpxBboET9w3/7BXy9+wRueODJV/qffg781kl8pyOtlcHXX d7JpYOZVi8o/faimlsapSP5kMbmhTqPJFsCQ+H7IfI2NRkLXWi9yezq5jNRu9VRb Jda5BvKq37G1F+d5bxKOpJMNxDn2gL3Gz+IbaShHnO9+UtoPR1BbNZqjV/H+TLKm 5J7zWHYU0kwe6fGhY9SobD3QSAXIDNnd6ONYC4tmHOcjMK4SfKVm01uECq6bxGLH l8e5my9CQEME/zr7AapDX9y77AwXuoiah5ZfjFwvyaz/V2C1sOcov2Ws/Z/BT4mL sxwEehEfL0+D1MeoKRJBz73JCxPsRqLUfOK9kax828uEbo7gDPJZdTXPx9z4cfZG 83mSdEQt4gKve8PUTqs6RndJIxZ6Ua1uLW4kS7TZuKXT69QnOTYM1zv3Fh4xz95l R36zbbUUN8ZcolphOr6t2kTAYJlsV17Qiw3+9dTtI5XFSq/Us6FqMcz9Tvh23n7c RVfn49+SH9WjaFz7KvpYw3l68ZdhzPNFIvHLbE1q4LZfut2b9SC3zOHc/nqdKg+H nt0vNljKfuw5Kdb3Jh5e7Gpx2iTfxfQz5dZ5aZ4ITlv7YDNvRVKcg0apVQFqrW7S wSIB13pbIgzlnblI2j/OurmagWJB84fGjGTnBs8Zj7qTG5dRdXRrXZOi2vViNs/u 5F6I6Er34qzCuU2a1VxehrZI5AZ9ivtbQvs6//HbnjVo2kXv9vStepMFlCd4fbCY J/ZJ0Fsk49jjEoODmqVBifPwDGREmYnbtL/uewrOLOrl0nmO9JUii0V8ZL9qBKZM 3Jh2Q8y84O059M+m0oIptBmF8IFfpH+4NtD6Sg6oaVNOja+/rw8+heih3CIo0NGq xLia3qaK/DPBa5wT7skuLfFf6VTZopOvNDir1RPXpHWpJAPk80lQorqKP3Y5KOTo sdzsWzOmvbLvfeaIRccqbds7KGAiZq+WMj7FiTpv309q7AaK16vgC7ndot+pAHyU AZqCZ2W/JCIO+CeF7WYpKfFEXVM/vd4Z08ov2EC30BtLc/nRGGe3L/ZWfs3krA4v CpLad/RoN42KEds0Y0JO7ZHkLf3qb7b3LLFQXGFkjGkY39HpH1AVfG+jQz3geHIx RHaiRNKy2B/Zh3aKxOmPHazxOiyUh8yAn8YtndM3RRVa9D2avaUoTrqqj/mYM31Q 6iYqxwchqxs8DOu2nwchH3aQmNVJjvmGP+zS9fE8dbehvarYj65Q9YUV3RKHJ6cw 5AUiCg== =5yAt —–END PGP MESSAGE—– Again, sorry about being a piece of shit. Although i’m sure thats not enough. Don’t wor­ry. I won’t ever say your name again.

The Privnote link seemed to con­tain the same PGP-encrypted mes­sage, both encrypted to “RSA key, ID 28820345” - not a key I had or whose ID I rec­og­nized. My ini­tial guess was that he thought he had linked my Gwern pseu­do­nym to a DNM oper­a­tor (pre­sum­ably either an employee of the recent­ly-de­ceased Silk Road or as an oper­a­tor of the then-re­cent­ly-opened Silk Road 2. Other pos­si­bil­i­ties included Black­Mar­ket Reloaded or Sheep Mar­ket­Place.) I can say this due to the bit about “You won’t let me vend proper”: since I am entirely unin­volved in run­ning the DNMs and I gen­er­ally only doc­u­ment ven­dors after they’ve been bust­ed, it is improb­a­ble I as Gwern inter­fered with his sell­ing, and that then means he must think I’m some­one else.

I’m really curi­ous why he thinks I’m run­ning a DNM but the prob­lem is, I can’t decrypt his mes­sage and if I tell him that, then it sounds like I’m really am the per­son he thinks I secretly am and I’m bull­shit­ting him. I’m also curi­ous what trou­ble he caused ‘me’ because I’ve never heard of this nick before. So here was the plan I decided on to deal with him: I tell him his mes­sage is mal­formed on both Red­dit & Privnote (which it is), tell him how to for­mat it for Red­dit (in­dent every line by 4 spaces), and tell him to use my ‘pub­lic’ iden­ti­ty’s key. Hope­fully he’ll take this as a legit­i­mate tech­ni­cal glitch, re-en­crypt to a key I actu­ally have, and then I’ll know what he’s talk­ing about. If he gets spooked by my ‘appar­ent’ inabil­ity to decrypt the mes­sage, then he was­n’t really con­vinced I am ‘me’ in the first place and I don’t espe­cially care what his argu­ments or facts were.

An hour lat­er, I replied:

I do not know what you are talk­ing about, and cer­tainly would not be able to decrypt that mes­sage. You should use my pub­lic key if you have some­thing to say to me.

Also, your mes­sage is mal­formed on both Red­dit & Privnote: you need to indent each line by 4 spaces and then it’ll work fine.

I really liked the coy­ness of that first line: I think that’s per­fectly worded to sound like I know exactly what he’s talk­ing about but I’m insist­ing on the re-en­cryp­tion as a but­t-sav­ing maneu­ver.

8 November

I waited with great eager­ness for the reply to learn how exactly ‘I’ was being black­mailed or extorted or doxed, only to be told:

The entire text of the first mes­sage I sent you was copy/pasted.

I was sent that mes­sage by some­one who claims to know the iden­tity of DPR. I’m not too advanced with PGP only recently learn­ing it, but I believe it is for­mat­ted for DPR PGP key so nei­ther of us will be able to decrypt it. He falsely believed I was some­one else after I imper­son­ated an indi­vid­ual he asked to con­tact him. I was sim­ply trolling await­ing the launch of the new road.

I know the name of the per­son he is claim­ing to be DPR and he did show me some con­vinc­ing evi­dence but I neglected to save any of the pic­tures out of lack of belief. Now I’m begin­ning to think he may have been right because of how quickly I was cen­sored when I tried to divulge this infor­ma­tion.

I am hon­estly unde­cided as to whether or not I want to poke at the issue, as I’m solely a sim­ple cus­tomer from the orig­i­nal SR and a sail­ing ship is good enough for me. But this infor­ma­tion was posted on Red­dit more than once after the reg­is­tra­tion sus­pen­sion on the offi­cial forums. That said, law enforce­ment has def­i­nitely seen what was dis­sem­i­nated and if it’s true, it is in the best inter­est of every­one to uncover it before LE become involved once again.

I con­tacted you because I’ve read good things about you on the forums after research­ing who you were fol­low­ing your encrypted info post last week. If you wish to dis­cuss any of this fur­ther, mes­sage me back and we’ll move to a more secure plat­form and I can share with you what I was told and you can fol­lowup in an attempt to deter­mine its verac­i­ty. Thank you for your time.

I was ter­ri­bly dis­ap­point­ed: he had been bluff­ing me! He could­n’t decrypt the mes­sage either and had no more idea than I did what was in it. And his the­ory was­n’t ter­ri­bly plau­si­ble: I did have DPR’s offi­cial pub­lic key, but it was the key ID 67B7­FA25, not key ID 28820345 (as I said, the mes­sage had­n’t matched any of the pub­lic or pri­vate keys I’ve col­lected over the years).

I replied point­ing out the key ID issue and link­ing him to my pub­lic key for fur­ther dis­cus­sion. He never replied.


10 December

This sec­tion is an exam­ple of some­thing I hoped would be a use­ful lead, but which turned out to be a nui­sance. (Mes­sages below have been lightly copy­edited to remove the most egre­gious mis­spellings, and where rel­e­vant, encrypted mes­sages are decrypted & sev­eral suc­ces­sive com­ments by a party are com­bined into a sin­gle block­quote; oth­er­wise, their orig­i­nal for­mat­ting is pre­served as much as pos­si­ble.)

On 2013-12-10, I vis­ited Red­dit to dis­cover in my inbox a pecu­liar mes­sage:

[“The momen­tum of moments…” from jack­0fnone sent 57 min­utes ago]

Not your typ­i­cal dox.


Catch your breath and decide if it’s bet­ter to avoid an email/response alto­geth­er. I for one have come to be incred­i­bly fas­ci­nated by the con­vic­tion you’ve demon­strate thus far, and fully stand by your side. I do offend eas­i­ly, but I’m also quite for­get­ful when rec­og­nized by oppor­tu­ni­ty. It’s truly been fas­ci­nat­ing!

Objec­tive­ly, jack­0fnone

Most pecu­liar. Not your typ­i­cal dox - prophetic words. jack0fnone was not a nick I rec­og­nized, a quick Google turned up noth­ing but a prob­a­ble false pos­i­tive in some kid’s gamertag, and I did not rec­og­nize the Bit­coin address 15bD6fYs6p9D9wmniDtTBcQSyWXDYNDCwv (which turned out to have no trans­ac­tion­s). This sounded like it could be any­thing - per­haps a dox of Black­Mar­ket Reload­ed’s backopy? I knew my SMP infor­mant had been look­ing into BMR, and while this prose did­n’t sound like him, I did­n’t have much to base that guess on.

Nat­u­ral­ly, I opened the link to read the full mes­sage:

How much time are we ever really guar­an­teed? So many beau­ti­ful ideas to explore and exploit in this brief life­time. Would­n’t you agree?
To real­ize that it all could have been for some­thing more than absolutely noth­ing is the way by which we must pride our­selves to exchange a dia­logue some­day I assume.
I won­der if your sheer bril­liance will demon­strate itself to be as resilient this time around, great minds can cre­ate true rev­o­lu­tions when they work together in secre­cy.
I come offer­ing you an econ­omy of grand scale, a life­time of secre­cy, friend­ship, and a fast paced blue­print to suc­cess­fully rid every­one of these tremen­dous frus­tra­tions.
With so much to lose, I am won­der­ing whether every­one is still on track for a con­tin­gency plan in Cyprus.

I too can change the world, some­times we must pre­tend to believe it’s for the bet­ter for real­ity to catch up to truth–I’m sure you under­stand. I do not approach you or your team with oppo­si­tion, only a moti­va­tion which I see to be purer than yours. I don’t feel any­thing truly needs to be dis­cussed. I nego­ti­ate in the same way that all of you have, and with that sworn state­ment, I will take just this one wal­let off of your hands and present a plan more moti­vat­ing and func­tional (1933phfhK3ZgFQNLGSDXvqCn32k2buXY8a) My med­dling in your teams cur­rent affairs is of lit­tle impor­tance, but to val­i­date the idea of a scam coin and expose it’s truths would not only leave iden­ti­ties and rep­u­ta­tions crip­pled, it would inevitably destroy a foun­da­tion that can most cer­tainly be rec­on­ciled in these early stages. The alter­na­tive route will give you a chance to thor­oughly describe this short lived con under your orga­nized list of “mis­takes”.

I most cer­tainly am the guy you are look­ing for, and if not I am for­ever inclined to be the one you’re look­ing out for. I would strongly urge against vocal­iz­ing your con­cerns or find­ings any fur­ther in the var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties which you grace as a form of mit­i­gat­ing the future risks you assume to be impend­ing. My unequiv­o­cal opin­ion is that we should con­tinue to change the cli­mate and atti­tude in a way that does­n’t hin­der the progress of this crypto (specif­i­cally Bit­coin) move­ment in places where it is des­per­ately need­ed. I can­not stress the impor­tance of time­li­ness as I am eagerly antic­i­pat­ing the expected denial phase that is to come! I, how­ev­er, am con­fi­dent that our nego­ti­a­tions have pleas­antly con­clud­ed; for bet­ter or worse, I would avoid focus­ing on the ratio­nale at this point. It would serve you well to have me on your side these next few months, as I’ve decided it would be an absolute insult and tragic suc­ces­sion of events the fol­low­ing months to have this move for­ward in any other man­ner. Sim­i­larly I offer the option of ceas­ing to exist if you so choose to not dig­nify this part­ner­ship I would hope to devel­op.

1933phfhK3ZgFQNLGSDXvqCn32k2buXY8a >


Well. That was omi­nous. I rec­og­nized the address 1933phfhK3ZgFQNLGSDXvqCn32k2buXY8a as being the noto­ri­ous lost trea­sure of Dread Pirate Roberts - the ₿111,114 (~$92,224,620) the FBI failed to con­fis­cate using Ross Ulbricht’s lap­top. Did Jack think I was the real DPR and Ross a patsy or minor employ­ee? Cer­tainly the men­tion of “team” sug­gested I had ongo­ing oper­a­tions and that he might think I was the DPR2 run­ning SR2, but I did­n’t know what might be meant by “scam coin”. More dis­turb­ing was the sen­tence men­tion­ing my “orga­nized list of ‘mis­takes’”, which was a clear allu­sion to and evi­dence that this was a tar­geted mes­sage and not some indis­crim­i­nate broad­cast to, say, all Red­di­tors who com­mented on SR-re­lated arti­cles. Regard­less, this is a clear black­mail attempt.

How to respond? I have no secret iden­ti­ties worth pay­ing to keep secret, I do not pos­sess ₿111,114 (heck, I don’t even pos­sess ₿111), and if I did, did he seri­ously think that I would pay up imme­di­ately on get­ting such a cryp­tic threat? Now, I know he must be wrong in what­ever his accu­sa­tion is, but that does­n’t mean his infor­ma­tion is worth­less: he could have still stum­bled over valu­able infor­ma­tion, even if his con­clu­sion is wrong. And the pur­ple prose was inher­ently amus­ing (if a lit­tle dis­turb­ing in its own way - “What fright­ens us most in a mad­man is his sane con­ver­sa­tion”).

How to find out what he knows? I can’t sim­ply tell him, “you are wrong, but could you please tell me what infor­ma­tion led you to your out­landish con­clu­sion?” I decided to employ the same strat­egy the last time some­one accused me of being DPR: insist on set­ting up a new pub­lic key and talk via that. Nat­u­ral­ly, I did­n’t care about Red­dit eaves­drop­ping on our con­ver­sa­tion - what do they care about a mis­taken dox or obscure bit of DNM triv­ia? The point was sim­ply to give Jack an impres­sion of guilt: after all, what inno­cent per­son would bother with such high secu­rity mea­sures? Surely only the real DPR would insist on such iron-­clad secure com­mu­ni­ca­tions⸮

I replied briefly:

Red­dit and safe-­mail are trans­par­ent sieves as far as we are con­cerned. Here is a pub­lic key:

Version: GnuPG v1.4.15 (GNU/Linux)


Please reply with a fresh pub­lic key and your plan for a fix.

11 December

Jack seemed to take the bait, as he quickly replied

With great plea­sure.

And then some­time lat­er, sent a longer reply:

—–BEGIN PGP MESSAGE—– Ver­sion: GnuPG v2.0.22 (Ming­W32)

hQEMA4z9l03Eej0JAQgAtmUV4qSJI/9bn50luT1Y4QqAXRNBIik/NyNBB4WFy9zm tQ6snjE6Wt52IYlL7HWc+gw7hprEMTD2N1I9CvhIkXkYMRWrqwW84vzfGhL62FEU ZKVOlDGMosRUgFXTNyXO6HhHophyfkuH2dDwkOk2+8feMorPWUvvK/csNTTlFMos xxQ6k/WSNIOlSWCOTvWIXriWedtPLqg9pLMC01B35TJnGKfnIBkxBREqk1B3A5jd rkLJpC1l8DtZXnJN3txNvg2v27QafqBYOUVtvyb/4cgEmfPQW/kDCi5asjZc48CI Mrg4Nsa4VfGDr+iKvkmxcW3Bazpx45Fdzw/qW2JnW9LrAbfVeGEzxHHcuK7fC6t4 9rKqSiSZWwFggmsNKF21VJ0NAUdDFosW3Zxu+p56QMLpKqJnBbFF85yj532M08R9 cGhtctu7YZtQUlw65CgYr92CyV8y9TCqHR7YeUKTv61WMRwv4/M1+JZC8JR/M/Sc bKvIXNI5m+wzG2NaTkafdbzu0Ds2gmAZ93pesunf1XrPQoR6ATum9JNtmAzzVXx6 Zhp/3ZzF8Lo0opI7eTjkUP0/y817Mp2+e4jvswR30G+XrkTp7tdHwE7Iex3RjPF1 w8ckq4NNW7t7VjfNL7VfJgKW941ASRbZdYygiolmh8tqQ3wqLeI99zcYrmw+3dpI 0jMhq2fW+JJb7neEdw9gF6MgWNSDk/q8pS27ROeZyVJZgGfX/HJX9i6hBHinkIsc Fj+janaVWjkbfg3OWLpcg7jDpgzl4O/HRNiFVjhTYYI2k4x6gASCJK4dub45/Bxi yYuzi3l6i/VEkFOw5PlmBd61j0k+LjVD5WZL864jcFAUk/WaDxL3EsVY0c06FXDV H0WW7jL5NfBStydQauWOYRmCsxNKZIVgegFTByWU7jYj7vtsDZ1IdE+JufTYXu8Z tr6OhkEga8N/GACGaRg4fLzEz5soPVT5/CTSa6WJK174cZpR/DKseqQ32k/cFgZD 2kPxTDd3yhlkssDsb+NSnPYJyExxelYuUN2K6TECojrrbUoerfzOy506qUGwPMCa +DFhFuDIYM2wSWJA5+zr7FUFn7kdXys7qWjXFy16EcgT/4MvgFbiwzdIowQNgW+7 aQLntfH9h2cLBEzUYSuimac/MxJq3IMvHQjkrDqZbHkXl3TIBWi0AvRpG/gLvkxJ ZPIUHVua1uWXJykxVh/5mVef9IBtVVlmesKd5pEKqQt/tY8/6z7quKMgikBFzs+k hDlFSGOhtJxdIlXONNVn6tKlfQ2yzycghwsFKfKP0vKbAWW9fK5wquWPcvQM8g1y 58wdkidoo1yBuQ1Ri8HfJ1goBVKv0uyyzbPI8uvnVaykEcH2dGEdDV8BWvKFOPU4 Lc1WVX1msrc7/0R1QxOFi4PBTHHfFUknGjbABUuGenWHeQEclJVR8wQdQ1rhWA3F YfUQ9Pv6nqYlLH18gqK/hLkN9bcTWalIVhFLdcJydLB46XjQSxga6dbmqyfWFUYl Fc1f7CoJlyQ7cj0+uiSSLHYdb2YBwYXOnQGsnTFd5Ynx+wHcBzysnGUp0X+KJNSV 8Mkozo73Y23EB9AYEXOgiidRoAANJZnY7kxM/pTEhJDIXMzqFDk9yqsZIdJsN86s 7B8XHKh9uLBd2VZGoGXLZh36LttEpmCdoGMhUuunvPbTnogv5HkF2S7aJp7Kqk4P Aip+6FoEl3JIFiTjZy68/Xqt2YgcIJs0mn89ZjQkXGWAor3u2Q8CuKaZKryEmPc3 43w1dziujnfZR/WNTZMMDAvscjWnCGudiyaG9oxSKR0bHSORannp9gD/W6et9GEL VFnoS1rHkEsnR8WDJOFGmvt5kADEEQnZfNQJRdMQpm93b2i9i8mkbHcoHMLJzpGM aQ3AbjWutu6cQJYoGgiZy2HHfOuCf8ZmEzXLI2rZ5MghABI7U7mWXarvI4NayUQE 2bBMDxCthaQSPA5YwM42Fow7RteZ+x1vC4xo/yBBm90hn83bwWF24QcA7bGJzUI4 2io8C6fiyPfEqYoItqM1f4TZVkd1r+DLwSDMYXJY0hfYEmIqU6xulK3l44Yw6Id3 rs+9AxQ/oPGdFen955mKVjXH3CSxH8/qXJKrauuDKFYjdZ0sM/+1So38FypX++lO +8d6qFvdOLnhjjP5bBEztTOo7nXhzCWRYXBzzU7oTccY74GUi+601BGVqtJ9E2+4 h++H9E0v/3lePn/jUEF8LUc4N7HB2BUxSWcKoqPIDw532NPEf9QYf/GmRJkT66F7 6lDoIUG6TNCfXAGu2oRGoJwe+7Tm9D/kdMSbpXQRkwMEGX/qh5QxSJB1cvJkbe2w dhNP3G1fTyO2LL0nxmN+RR5G/Lb82NOBsQXdkLqjAQMm4oNHhQsNNjFqzP2w0UJk 9OwQ3wR9lZlpisPegtn5lIxDBT5OZ84ZMwqjqV5sZgGequvJVdEp2ewMy91WVrY5 xdAWmGvxuS6hAf+tQ1Jmkg1JRdoWgYD1ug+lNnwIHZCtWcAohlFgTpYbUsVUK+Bv 5c/AbMMtm+JJ/rltjp8d/90aRMTEn68m4EeLaVIHYPrfLU0CZNYcwh3lczC+fbAV o5J6shY59Mf1WM5+w23vFt1ISSahzBtJHcX7FVp5zzuFCciB6ie3JPV5a2TAoyxn hgCrikgijeqlzub951f7XztCN9jYE/FeAp72xglAB97791M+O+xXWFZcbteBIip6 k2SyuA+2s5jVwBlzsOEBvH4Pgj75ogGxcyslolSN7I1m/PONRRzY4oCFs5KG/q0Y DssR9UcFeXwAgHdnIQe/6lcnzF+xscd59b/T0D6x+cEJ2sf3e1hmcySBlhBkFskN Fg3f2Q+Dji2QjTZO2XJshVgfHSxAXUYcIi3qex0ovJ6R97x/FgArFeLynhYIs6L5 Oz539JAk/zZltdFJG+F8yJWM2GyQiHv4/AQ/yDFvuzqHhG6UhFKs7ex56HQ94pAr L1mutMi2GT/UcBo1rydDMsn2V0cGciw8POT9gVu7nd4nPBINNFbVUYSnJORDkivl LninRm8cjBmLEU33Cyv5NUHArdv3LIXwgiVgvhk1vKeYeMmK+xHm+UwWMddem9dh 8UuK47bdU7YB3AVG8trscPadzCDkFHM9RVRsYJqPN1FE/NaYCPxpwkfLcNricvR2 M7OEt74cJjSsx7ZtOP5+x/IVL9O6CRHB+t3UeGUZcQq4nZff2IQDBB6U9sAFiO/o FqW8qzS8FrPF9lA1mjPcZ7+H/av/DsIa7ei5G/hea0S/3Okij1ZS2aIxMkSgmdlf KybWiph0pPDiBYsYgeR1Tk6pcS27r0d5y4EjAumCy1iKCoo2XtdyWYEUtqefa6oA 5mkKrOcs3ackZdsSwZafuARht8ZsST/9ojobLzCtBXTgXNi+Cg8aTThcK+wifN4C 0p5sN7lPg52gBksf9BTOqq7UtP5Nhn1ju7NWsnuRzxaprGzlWpvWM5duULOD+QHk 0y4z3hECY1RdDMSqSFx/s3E5fCbiSLjP6kZLzQWSkM96Uy06wOZjG1PClK0GsU2n =42HQ —–END PGP MESSAGE—–

I will add that all totals will con­tinue to be cal­cu­lated in BTC on that days aver­age if you fail to com­ply with any guide­lines. Look for­ward to some­thing more pleas­ant in dis­cus­sion as soon as pos­si­ble, best.

The post­script con­firmed my belief he was black­mail­ing me, but I could­n’t fig­ure out more. He had made the usual error of not for­mat­ting the PGP-encrypted mes­sage as a code block, so it got wrapped. Even after fix­ing that, the mes­sage was invalid:

$ xclip -o | gpg --decrypt
gpg: encrypted with 2048-bit RSA key, ID C47A3D09, created 2013-12-11
      "jack0fnone <>"
gpg: decryption failed: secret key not available

It was encrypted to his pub­lic key? I decided to play secu­rity hard-ass, to fur­ther the impres­sion of guilt (surely an inno­cent per­son would sug­gest sim­ply mes­sag­ing like nor­mal peo­ple and not be so para­noid):

Please use that key. I don’t mean to be rude, but if you can­not com­part­men­tal­ize and fol­low basic opsec, there is noth­ing that can be safely said.

I was a lit­tle amused at my role­play­ing here: “safely said”? Any­thing we had to say to each other could be safely said in the clear - I am not DPR, so what do I care? I had to project an image of being tech­ni­cal and high­-s­ta­tus, since from read­ing many post by DPR and Satoshi, I knew they always spoke con­fi­dently and calm­ly. Regard­less of my rea­son­ing, this seemed to have the intended effect of low­er­ing his sta­tus and he apol­o­gized for his error:

I apol­o­gize. I’ll admit my com­pe­tency is far from flaw­less. I sel­dom com­mu­ni­cate in PGP. What was the exact issue, please? I will have a response ready for you by morn­ing (your time).

His next response was to pro­vide his (mal­formed) pub­lic key:

—–BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK—– Ver­sion: GnuPG v2.0.22 (Ming­W32)

mQENBFKolUIBCAC/6/TImZT60vCwGyXh+lWuWttrz1xeDnDyzTm3J2dXlsY6yy0f 58UmtmIHR99abm++jDPr1TcszC5u+Y/c+XICHzPDpkhqKfXmr4NhCkCDjZtmYNI9 4YLbwytaNWvMTbEupyT9SbiPTd//V3W4yuOvYhZKOQfEzcmT1hIcn65c5v93HD4R A7T6rmLoLjKQjccBBXOiRfw62CvU80CVlNiHkGeQYM/1Ym6DTPJkEdyQ4WU5g6d7 P9lCrvGvCQKpU+gVrjjdY4QVLMhdSTmGbogtMwFiEkDPmFB67g67m5nz+DQ+kzzE aTVmZj4OOWS6kUWivYR+0rqaZbDyrF7a7MP7ABEBAAG0JWphY2swZm5vbmUgPGph Y2swZm5vbmVAc2FmZS1tYWlsLm5ldD6JATkEEwECACMFAlKolUICGwMHCwkIBwMC AQYVCAIJCgsEFgIDAQIeAQIXgAAKCRC7IqugAkQU5et8B/43L6XCmbBw+8Fl7xk2 elXk2Q5h6FRVLnGKiPzbq5OBtKSaQlThDku6W6Pg2yWbeMGUWw4ZW8EaU/c0Mn68 oPILgYiydpbJOdn8L5Kju1GiGJl1RD1PCJpl+2iQXoRCptcazubSgDd4NcECr5QP DnGvAasRlHWrMITmWpy9zuIBWiuMzkzgJIRTp8cK+5JPCp36nWF4g41XIgzyLhR3 Z4Zt+YCndCnrYGRRsfMgGMSXGorIxPtJW/Ik5xTNNYOF1550QWgY8I0kVa5R87DT 7Jtl9UcPPWiTTQud6l4YlCfChkPoKwYY6TEXW7vdvfsjOufbQSsPTnC40L2YA8oH Um0TuQENBFKolUIBCADDacxyZw8UzK7inJXIih33rNC9zPLyPemMhJQljjk8esZJ +Tj6zLKxD4BbwEZKxKApXZcqNHbDNbfA05mZzAnMvppLbptSVgKSADyTmvFu6wUC xLhT9DRTp7p4/MtUDupEyq3IvkbLY/AfuBSJfVxzBBpnO+jipLQSHVl09U4ov8R5 IJq6NaNlT6/33pA1frC6JfJumZSCLHDDX2AIuH9T6P8uQmIBy+Wne97A1zvEb4j0 ktKyjhaQ8oJFlkQhlJgEfS1XtQcfpGZo2wyWc63c4q8G4Sbu1S64Gl2EXKStPw14 7MQg0nDqbjDjTEXtJmurwIs4gRBvjDqPT2WlMp7VABEBAAGJAR8EGAECAAkFAlKo lUICGwwACgkQuyKroAJEFOU/Gwf/bYPZILFgpaxXsfX0944ZYHWQZN+x1s2/Sf8A DiG/6C4nkWyPVGRE/ee5RTaOE2DPCSyPmGxpk92+IGZ6aLNsxFcVanaqkrKgP3cZ V2MhJH5wV9rF3SFjQiaUktNitLh5OmwFfBRU6rmKP56i4nh+nz6az6tp2pFyhVtg TInfyAiXfL8klTIh/NkCdDy8pXlRS6SVTOLbECcB8cKtlfiGGccauE46dYhE502Q /vlJWWUjtVHm2AQ2DMQm2o/E3xuO+KmdMOqMAR5IkwZP0YevnXq44tNKrHbEJgL8 HB8yyBO+BblRBXSywPP9VYmKZjS3NFTzu+B0uRi4lwrp/OxQ3g== =kOch —–END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK—–


No, not real­ly… but I fixed it any­way to import key 024414E5: "jack0fnone <>", and gave him an encrypted mes­sage explain­ing the issues since he was­n’t fig­ur­ing them out for him­self:

First, to use PGP on Red­dit, it’s best if you indent each line by 4 spaces to pre­serve the new­lines.

Sec­ond, the issue is sim­ply that reusing a sin­gle pub­lic key for every­thing is not safe. Pub­lic keys pro­vide secu­rity and irrev­o­ca­bil­i­ty: these are very use­ful in some con­texts, but in oth­ers, you want off-the-record prop­er­ties and per­fect for­ward secre­cy. Casu­ally using a sin­gle key for all com­mu­ni­ca­tions means that third-­par­ties - such as law enforce­ment - can prove you signed all the com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and sim­i­larly for receiv­ing mes­sages encrypted to your pub­lic key. It’s like link­ing addresses on the blockchain: once you have done it, any­one with a copy can prove there’s a con­nec­tion. Even if they can­not break the mes­sages, that still offers traf­fic analy­sis and meta­da­ta. One way to mit­i­gate this is to use mul­ti­ple pub­lic keys / iden­ti­ties, ide­ally one key per cor­re­spon­dent: that way, if any­one gets a copy of one key, they only decrypt that par­tic­u­lar sub­set of mes­sages.

This was all per­fectly true and the rea­sons why some­one like DPR would act as I was act­ing. They just had noth­ing to do with why I was insist­ing on PGP. Instruct­ing peo­ple on PGP use can be tedious, but being patient with sources has paid off for me in the past, so one grins and bears it.

He replied with another mal­formed PGP-encrypted mes­sage… encrypted to his own pub­lic key again:

—–BEGIN PGP MESSAGE—– Ver­sion: GnuPG v2.0.22 (Ming­W32)

hQEMA4z9l03Eej0JAQgAwLpN8/6fwa403zDRudFXJijnz+j+9Y4TjbmNr8nwzn2X 1cLvYq9h+/QW2RF5yjMAFGZEtwi6GfasYzHlcZ7hN2hGa2m3gsNyxrAXzpOQwuXW UDqxrP5hTUXBlw3NWM71z5H8TrO7vdSWjyVjGdztL/fTsADbvsBEiC5CWGdnYbaK pvepFob4IYV/PGoWCVN4otORlcT7M+tkpMdx44pivV7Ivmu3nkYHf+kflP79lyH0 vA/awyKK+KeF02HhAFRXn8YjJb4sDwluuRSPG4lFYpUmUxVWfYmymPcVyX1fRFma w4nosA9GWsOkgijyrwov6R94MdViZ560DmzOzsF5b9LBPwHYt4OburhyR7F/1MbW BwY/lfQaFw7tu88yf9i43INXyTs17cX430EfacDnkn4KxGjHxNS8ngXVaoQz3h1j IGOt1j3r37tDgzQkBe6zOSsj53o95C/JUlQpS6ypmPMOOtRV6d5gtPC5Ufo8FtIb xIT4ma3rBWiOfjxu1WK3/baz8Tf8NWXM++Qf7iUHZLVpxZv7k9maddldw/ovFzzi H+rgnNIC+3L3V+nAxB746ihISymTjZgjvkPnQ6p60SPO3PHumCUEvI5eM+beMgX5 icSEnBghvlRN7CgMwSv77gSEe541v38KaPyeyDMVHJT16nODiDAFjHIqF+IskeOG HfOzMsyNGZEZhDCksdKJV3+ceWnknusaWu69+o+vgPxlJSBMd8uJjaRS9vbJJPjk VPeV5Zur­J1cjF6I­iD2k+pZd­FvDg3R­bEO+Z6tlD­tUYe0qK3k­wAoWAatH­F4uyqgXwC vfnByz314yeVV29c65fvCf0mQE3WoMa2IQ+v0+NjvSb8U0ahmIIggQxHYk/XqM0Y +dr++nRQuQfvFMOIqTmcNigonCcx/0nQsuSXq0tieUP2E1j6cR/LLjxjdEmfTplz 1RD/wtTV8L+bSHzz6yu/6kU05x04auHLPgOXp1JQ/CQz0x7V5NgIknJKGWpUqi9w o699ms6ZBFe/3Hq27rVO9Ws= =OUp/ —–END PGP MESSAGE—–

Let me know if this is what you meant.

Help­ful­ly, he fol­lowed up with a warn­ing:

So we are clear, I would sug­gest you focus on my ini­tial response rather than avoid address­ing the com­men­tary. The requests are as men­tioned, very pre­cise and with­out leniency due to the time sen­si­tive nature of this mat­ter. I will leave this reminder decrypt­ed, your time is highly regarded in all of this. Per­haps we’ll have the plea­sure of exchang­ing for­mal­i­ties at some more con­ve­nient point.

I might do that if you had­n’t screwed up the encryp­tion, Jack! By this point I was get­ting a lit­tle frus­trated - if he can’t use PGP, how likely is he to know any­thing worth know­ing? - but I per­se­vered, and explained in the clear to him:

No, I’m afraid that’s still not quite right. First, it’s eas­ier if you for­mat mes­sages right by indent­ing each line by 4 spaces. As it is, one has to care­fully fix the mes­sage by hand.

Sec­ond, your mes­sage start­ing with hQEMA4 is still being encrypted to the wrong key. When I look at it, I see:

$ xclip -o | gpg --decrypt
gpg: encrypted with 2048-bit RSA key, ID C47A3D09, created 2013-12-11

While in gpg --list-keys, the spe­cial-pur­pose key appears as

pub   2048R/1A725E92 2013-12-11 [expires: 2015-12-11]
uid                  No Fixed Point <temporary@universe>

C47A3D09!=1A725E92 - it’s encrypted to the wrong key.

What you need to be doing is some­thing along the lines of

$ cat message.txt | gpg --encrypt --armor --recipient 1A725E92

Spec­i­fy­ing that 1A7/temporary is the tar­get pub­lic key.

His next reply, thank­ful­ly, was prop­erly for­mat­ted, and so I could import another pub­lic key (key 24E2A726: public key "russiatoday <russia@today>") with­out issue, and this time decrypt his mes­sage, at least yield­ing his blunt state­ment of what he was after:

I appre­ci­ate the time­li­ness of your response.

First and fore­most com­pen­sa­tion, of course.
Sec­ond­ly, I will pro­vide a clear syn­op­sis of the time­line that will unfold for your max­i­mum 7 day emer­gency exten­sion.

Invoice: Satoshi Nakamoto

Pay­ment Due Date: 12/11//13

Pay­ment Address: 19f7evHC6Et3VK9F5KGjJ2tYECo3seLFkU

Pay­ment Amount TOTAL: 1933phfhK3ZgFQNLGSDXvqCn32k2buXY8a

My thought? An absolute steal tonight, con­sid­er­ing all in reserves.

Penal­ties for fail­ure to make pay­ment by Decem­ber 11th will cor­re­late to an acti­va­tion of cri­sis-ex­ten­sion that will carry inter­est as pre­sent­ed:

+Day 1-3 $250,000,324 per day

+Day 4-6 $500,324,324 per day

+Day 7 $1,324,324,324.324 due date


After we have man­aged to set­tle our nego­ti­a­tions I’ll be glad to dis­cuss every­thing in more detail; specif­i­cally this projects for­mal­i­ties as should be expected (great con­cept to incor­po­rate legit­i­mate tan­gi­bil­ity and a broader struc­tural foun­da­tion).
Let’s not ignore the enor­mous mea­sures that have been taken for the greater good and to secure a more sta­ble future. How­ev­er, the fan­tas­tic time­line I’ve archived and the count­less sto­ries and fal­si­fi­ca­tions that at this point are
indis­putably accu­rate can be fed in the most artis­tic man­ner yet to the edi­tors of the NYTimes, Huff­Po, Bloomberg, etc. in a timely fash­ion (we share a pas­sion for expres­sion, among other things I’ve noticed). Not to get too entan­gled in my
ideas at the moment but I will say that I carry for­ward a very opti­mistic out­look from your last response Gwern; resis­tance is a stu­pid thing! I will con­firm that even my inter­est charges are incred­i­bly gen­er­ous con­sid­er­ing the mag­ni­tude of
evi­dence cou­pled with the scope of…well you already know. I don’t care to be con­de­scend­ing, dis­cred­it­ing, or even slightly threat­en­ing from this point for­ward if it has­n’t already come to your sens­es. I do how­ever have a plan I will
enact with or with­out you, my secu­rity is obvi­ous and your inge­nu­ity is some­thing I will in no man­ner over­look so long as you con­tinue to stand on the oppo­site side of this well guarded fence. This ecosys­tem can be fine tuned with
more than one out­look. Your lack of dis­ci­pline and dis­en­gaged con­scien­sce is telling at this point in time. I digress, and pre­fer to close on this last note. If the surety in my case isn’t pre­sented well enough I will gladly show his majesty the day­light
(once again). How­ever I imag­ine you’re inter­ested in cor­rect­ing this issue imme­di­ate­ly. These are in fact, absolute terms. Should this infor­ma­tion fail to make itself clear I think you’ll have the oppor­tu­nity to do more than just explain­ing your­self.

The right­ful end­ing here reads:
Gwern on brink of sec­ond…chance?
Cheers to some­thing more and noth­ing less.

*This con­cludes the time­line of events that will fol­low. I’d also like to thank you for not mak­ing the fla­grant deci­sion of dis­avow­ing in advanced I for one never intend to blem­ish your rep­u­ta­tion nor drag my own into this utter mess.
For that, there is a degree of respect that I demand to uphold amongst us and even more impor­tantlly a level of con­fi­dence that guar­an­tees your con­cerns will be con­sid­ered (pro­vided there is a solu­tion attached).
How­ever you would like to com­pu­tate the verac­ity of this mes­sage is your choice, pro­ceed with cau­tion if the math does­n’t add up in your favor. This I would say will be a very unique and mem­o­rable time in both our lives.
I urge you to pause your other pend­ing tasks, and take the time to med­i­tate before you con­sider strik­ing the worst per­son pos­si­ble or act­ing irra­tionally out of fear. This is all just a pass­ing breeze in the grand scheme of things–that we both under­stand.

For the sake of start­ing anew. I’ve just restated my claims under a new key, I hope to hear back with some­thing of equal val­ue.

Also thank you for that expla­na­tion I’ve only just started run­ning Kali as of recent­ly.

Wow. I was wrong: Jack did­n’t think I was DPR, or SR staff. He thought I was Satoshi Nakamoto. Wow. Leav­ing aside the basic issues with the the­ory (like how I don’t know C++, have lit­tle famil­iar­ity with cryp­tocur­ren­cies prior to Bit­coin, cer­tainly would­n’t be liv­ing my cur­rent lifestyle if I had Nakamo­to’s esti­mated ₿800,000, could barely pro­gram Java when Nakamoto was start­ing to work on Bit­coin in 2006 etc), this imme­di­ately raised red flags as being mega­lo­ma­ni­ac, grandiose, and pro­vid­ing pre­cisely zero hard evi­dence about any­thing. I have done a lit­tle research on Nakamoto myself, and there is noth­ing Jack could have found in Nakamo­to’s back­ground which would tie him to me, and that meant it was highly unlikely I could learn any­thing of value from Jack and I had wasted my time.

On the other hand… how deep did this rab­bit hole go? If he thought I was Nakamo­to, what on earth led him to him to such a pro­foundly erro­neous con­clu­sion? I admit to a cer­tain inter­est in dis­eased think­ing (one of my is and I enjoy read­ing psy­chol­ogy books like Oliver Sack­s’s), and Jack might have a rare gem of con­spir­acy the­o­riz­ing if I could but extract it from him. And his pur­ple prose is hilar­i­ous (what, does he think he’s Mori­arty or some­thing?) So, a chal­lenge: could I pro­voke him into reveal­ing his hand?

Hello again. Hope­fully this key works this time. Since you’ve been so kind as to put up with my cryp­to-nit­pick­ing and given the time­line you’ve set, I will be blunt: I think you are bluff­ing me.

I think that you do not have a solid case that I am Satoshi, and that you are hop­ing I will pay you a large sum which will prove I am Satoshi either by its enor­mous size or by requir­ing coins from mul­ti­ple blocks mined in 2009, at which point you will both be exceed­ingly wealthy and also able to prove you found Satoshi.

So I do not plan to pay you 1933phfhK3ZgFQNLGSDXvqCn32k2buXY8a with­out more evi­dence, and real­ly, you should have sup­plied more as you are ask­ing a sum which even a bil­lion­aire can­not pay with­out paus­ing to think care­fully for a while. If you want this to move for­ward, you will need to be more forth­com­ing.

This pro­voked an aston­ish­ing tor­rent from Jack

At this point it’s very straight­for­ward, I speak as an hon­est man when I say what you have con­spired to accom­plish thus
far is some­thing incred­i­bly bril­liant. For bet­ter or worse I think your sit­u­a­tion has evolved into some­thing totally unfit­ting
I speak as some­one approach­ing this dis­cus­sion with enough evi­dence to extra­dite you and leave your par­lia­ment blush­ing.
Can I be frank in ask­ing how you could pos­si­bly dig­nify a response with­out hav­ing enough time to con­sider the delu­sions
of grandeur that have brought you to one knee at this point? A sec­ond grader can aver­age this cur­rent stat–what­ever you
may want to title it. I’m truly unphased. I’m in agree­ment with the fact that BMR should be down before next year, make it
hap­pen. Sim­i­lar­ly, pan­do­ra, SR 2.0. Deep­DotWeb, They­mos, Jezuzwaza­mush­room, They­mos, Volan­icErup­tor,, Mar­tian­Man,
BTCOlympus, BTCMiners,TATInvestments, ASICMINERS, PEERCOIN, Crypt­sy, ZETACOIN, Kswing­mang, Fontas, func­tionover­func­tion,
god­freeee, Quark­Coin, INFINTIYCOIN, PRIMECOIN, BTC-E, LOCALBTC, BLOCKCHAIN.INFO, Satoshi-DICE. You’ve cen­tral­ized
the one thing that we all swear to be decen­tral­ized in the most genius way in my opin­ion, and your at a good pace.
You have this tenac­ity to keep the story going, but unfor­tu­nately for you this is where my luck, relent­less graphical/textual
analy­sis, prepa­ra­tion, life-end­ing dirty scams and some moti­va­tion from my lovely girl­friends all tied up the case-load I have on hand.

With grace, I stop dig­ni­fy­ing you from this point for­ward. I need not another unfor­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion of this sort in my life since you
don’t know, so pur­sue this as you will, but I have a clear advan­tage. I have the man that can tell the grand­est story of them all. Unfor­tu­nate­ly,
it’s one you won’t hear until you choose to accept that my inten­tion fails in your eyes because it is purer than yours and unre­vealed. I have Ross
and Tomas as huge news thanks to you, you are the prob­lem and the solu­tion, you leave no stone unturned but a ter­ri­ble trail of sta­tis­tics and unequiv­o­cal
impres­sion under any name you so choose to adopt. It’s not quite the tri­umph you would really cal­cu­late it to be to some­one see­ing the
envi­ron­ment right this moment. But as I have said, your story stops when your news stops, and well, when every last char­ac­ter dies out of
this drama and much of the life you’ve clevely built falls silent. Late­ly, I’ve enjoyed tun­ing in to all your sto­ries dai­ly.

You’ve jeo­pordized your­self at this point for rea­sons you can fare to guess these next 7 days as long as you would like. Even a bil­lion­aire would have that
prob­lem you say? Let’s be straight-­for­ward I could round you up and bring you down faster than that hard on Keiser was show­ing a month back and your clever
pump that now has me decid­ing if I pre­fer a half and half mix of LTC/BTC. I can­not even begin to imag­ine the hell I will bring with the con­nec­tions
I’ve man­aged to sus­tain over the course of this crazy life, but at this moment and for the time that will come, my hand is reach­ing out in front direct­ing
itself at you with the utmost respect. I have worked years alone build­ing legit­i­macy only to see this mediocre plan and dis­as­trous occurence result­ing from
Danny and your crip­pled Zip-Zap pro­jec­t–or rather soon to be; that is if I’m so inclined to dis­spell my knowl­edge to the likes of some very well posi­tioned gov­ern­ment
offi­cials in my net­work. I know Ross would appre­ci­ate some Jus­tice at this point, and I’m unclear of whether this is all pass­able to you with­out any recon­sid­er­a­tion in
strat­e­gy. Pathetic if you ask me. I would say that the count begins now, bc you’re going nowhere with the tight grip I will main­tain on you from this point for­ward.
It serves you to con­sider that at this point, since I don’t give a shit that you’re Satoshi clear­ly, I just want to be 100% in agree­ment that my poten­tial Sys­tem Administrator/Advisor
will be com­pe­tent and com­mit­ted in dis­as­sem­bling most all of the cur­rent ideas that you have in your hand (and on table), and replac­ing their infamy with the poten­tial of
rebuild­ing third world economies to scale which was never pos­si­ble before. This is in fact a new par­a­digm shift.

So we’re clear, my wealth that you speak of is the wealth that I will use to pro­pel this entire idea of yours for­ward with your men­tor­ing I would hope. I don’t care for your highly
ques­tion­able riches for the sake of burn­ing you at the stake so please don’t lose sleep there. If I had the inten­tion to put you out (not sim­ply for being Satoshi), I would begin on
the 8th day as I have spec­i­fied. With a fully pre­pared series of embar­rass­ing con­nec­tions and reveal­ings that it would ruin you in a way I can’t see ben­e­fi­cial. You have
always had a lot to offer the world Gwern, only a fool would think oth­erise. What good would you be sit­ting in Ross’s seat at this point? I’m not here for an
auto­graph, just know that I will dis­cretely strike at oppor­tu­ni­ty, whether you choose to see the value in pre­sent­ing it to me is a risk that I would most cer­tainly
say will jeo­pordize every last hope you will ever have of recount­ing a story with quite the glory and respect you’ve right­fully achieved to date now that the last day of your life begins.

My evi­dence? I’m here to round up a lit­tle less than half of your bil­lions in loot by day 7. Where does this leave you? This leaves you again as the duti­ful writer of this tale.
It would serve us well to coop­er­ate on the basis that your crypto fantati­cism and stored wealth ceases to mean any­thing as of this moment. You are delu­sion­al, and well more
unsta­ble than I thought you were if our last words end here, but I will assure you that we have only just cross paths, I hate always end­ing on “for bet­ter or worse”.
I know this isn’t a gam­ble you singed up for, but I’m unphased by your doubts. There is a lot you’re miss­ing in this pic­ture, I urge you to not jeo­pordize every­thing for some­thing
that in all prac­ti­cal senses should hold no real value when you’re not fan­ta­siz­ing about some­thing like buy­ing a bit­coin island and are faced with the sud­den trem­ble of a hope
that guar­an­tees you no future or place any­where. This clos­ing is to the chance that we’ll soon meet on good terms, and that your hes­i­ta­tion isn’t in whether my secrecy is hon­or­able.

A stain on my rep­u­ta­tion is of no inter­est to me, I would expect the same from you. We have a world of pos­si­bil­ity after today, I feel as if all the data I’ve com­piled puts me all-in at this point.
Not because this is a game of proof, but because this is still war and I under­stand exactly how this will all play out. Let’s remem­ber that there is no declar­ing bakruptcy here once your times up.
Maybe you need time to fab­ri­cate the story of this (rather small) move­ment, but con­sider the build up in inter­ests. Idk, but I sure hope I’ve made myself clear as a crys­tal. Make sure you do your math
because my count states that your oblig­a­tions should be reach­ing the 400,000 BTC mark soon, good luck and I hope you don’t expect any fur­ther respons­es.

Remain uncon­vinced? I hope these very minor details give you far more insight into just how much more I am hold­ing onto. I am poised to be viral my great Niger­ian Prince, why not mend a true friend­ship instead?

I’ll check back in on here in one week Gwern, I know you are a man of your word–as am I.

What am I even say­ing? At this point, I’ll be eagerly check­ing in to see just how you things will add up. Now I hope you don’t think you’ll sway me into any more non­sense you think I should val­i­date before mov­ing for­ward with this. I need to get high and relax, this hunt has offi­cially ended with ABSOLUTE cer­tainty on my part, I know the right minds will fall into agree­ment with me.

I was flab­ber­gast­ed. I had­n’t even heard of half of the names he gave in the first para­graph, or the oth­ers (eg. ZipZap is appar­ently some­thing to do with , and I had to do some search­ing to learn even that). For­get the com­plete absence of the evi­dence I asked for, this seemed like it was writ­ten by some­one in the throes of ful­l-blown psy­chosis or mania or schiz­o­phre­nia with mean­ing­less plans to some­how rev­o­lu­tion­ize the world. (But to give Jack his due, some of his lines are hilar­i­ous: every­one should have a pet par­lia­ment which can be left blush­ing!) I do not have much expe­ri­ence deal­ing with crazy peo­ple, so I gave the mat­ter some more thought before I replied the next day.

12 December

I still had­n’t given up on get­ting the rea­sons he thought I was Satoshi (or any of the other names he men­tioned), so I decided to play along with the writ­ing style and demand evi­dence and point out his threat to go pub­lic in a few days while mock­ing him as appro­pri­ate (since polite­ness seems futile):

As you say, I am the author of my own tale, what­ever col­lab­o­ra­tors may invite them­selves in to scrib­ble on the parch­ment. I have read through your sug­gested emen­da­tions, and I have found it want­ing for adding to my tale a long chap­ter flash­ing back and explain­ing how I invented Bit­coin years ago and recon­tex­tu­al­iz­ing all events since: there is no sup­port­ing detail, no suc­cess­ful use of Chekhov’s guns or fore­shad­ow­ing or clues given pre­vi­ous­ly, the plot twist is implau­si­ble and trope-heavy, the writ­ing lugubri­ous and strained. I’m afraid I must reject your sub­mis­sion as requir­ing many more revi­sions and drafts, and I wish you the best of luck in find­ing an edi­tor who will help bring it up to snuff.

I do look for­ward to your analy­sis in 8 days, how­ev­er. While you are not up to pro lev­els of dox­ing and you may or may not have a gift for it (the proof is in the pud­ding), I am always will­ing to read and give feed­back on a well-in­ten­tioned ama­teur’s works. So, until then! I thank you for a most amus­ing evening.

I was dis­ap­pointed at his reply later that day:

“While you are not up to pro lev­els of dox­ing”

Gwern…you fail to real­ize that I am not merely try­ing to prove you’re Satoshi (that’s the bonus they prove). I stopped hav­ing to prove any­thing about two weeks ago when I found the entire answer in a series of mis­takes not you but one that some­one else so stu­pidly com­mit­ted and all sits still for the entire world to expand upon. The bur­den of proof for­ever lies with you Gwern, the defense. You have fab­ri­cated sev­eral mur­ders. More of my con­cern hon­est­ly, is that Ross is rot­ting in a cell with every­one else obliv­i­ous to your mas­ter­mind role. I don’t care to reach out to the edi­tors any­time soon hence why I was clear about being friends a cou­ple of months down the road. I am any­thing but an ama­teur and this is not some made-up game. I have approached you because the proof is shak­ing, how long it will take to extra­dite you is some­thing I bear no con­cern for. I will make how­ever make sure that before you are locked away for the atroc­i­ties you have unabashedly com­mit­ted today, I have the great plea­sure of see­ing you swal­low such a harsh and unnec­es­sary real­i­ty.

For clar­i­fi­ca­tion this was sim­ply a reverse dox that started well about a month ago but stretches back quite some time, all you’ve done is give this pend­ing fed­eral case build-up the strength in all the areas which it lacked. You will be read­ing over “my analy­sis” moreso that of experts if you ever find the time to breathe from the life you’ve accepted as of today. How does the tale of the fool and his money end? I for­get.

I appre­ci­ate your ego. Best of luck with the lit­tle future that’s left. Since we have both expressed our con­cerns as well as the steps we will take I want it to be clear that I will not be turn­ing back from this point and this entire Ponzi Scheme along with these ama­teur assump­tions of mine will remain neatly com­piled in this “fog” of a case we’ve acknowl­edged does exist.There is no cryp­to­graphic veil under a series of semi­-u­ni­formed pseudo-anony­mous trans­ac­tions that will pro­tect you from any of this infor­ma­tion when released,or did you think I would be so fool­ish to show up with the assump­tion that I owe you any expla­na­tion that might actu­ally allow you to take appro­pri­ate coun­ter-mea­sures?

You have proven time and again how much you love risk and prob­a­bil­i­ty, and so this among other things will serve as a way to clearly prove to you that risk and prob­a­bil­ity some­times have no rea­son­able or pre­dic­tive out­come when the under­ly­ing asset is as reveal­ing (or unre­veal­ing in mis­take) as I have cho­sen to be. I mean, I could­n’t help but laugh after read­ing your Death Note. I wanted to make this task inter­est­ing for myself, this exper­i­ment is con­ducted on the­ba­sis that your abil­ity to cal­cu­late this out­come is and always was going to end in total dis­as­ter.

You will learn in short time and with­out any chance of dis­miss­ing the point, that I am one of the most cal­cu­lated and orga­nized indi­vid­u­als you will have ever insulted in your life. Specif­i­cally that my intel­li­gence at hand, in fact, exceeded yours by an order that is as expected is unimag­in­able.

Some res­o­lu­tions con­tain within them­selves lit­tle to no evi­dence of a sat­is­fi­able answer. Espe­cially when the stakes are incred­i­bly good for me, and ter­ri­bly tragic for you. My next step is the FBI and a per­sonal visit to Ross’s attor­ney as we begin tear­ing through all of the com­piled evi­dence.

Remem­ber that cruise you wanted to take out of New York in a cou­ple of weeks after break? That fer­rari you wanted to buy? I urge you to treat your­self to these trea­sur­able mem­o­ries before this all hits the ground at full speed. I real­ize that I still main­tain the gen­er­ous lead to bury this hatchet so by all means sit in fear, boast, or crit­i­cize me; I derive the great­est plea­sure from your exhaus­tive tech­ni­cal­i­ties con­sid­er­ing the cir­cum­stances.

Your delu­sions of grandeur are unrea­son­able so until we have the actual dis­plea­sure of cross­ing paths, Gwern Bran­wen, I wish for you a life full of hard learned lessons. My offer stands until the date spec­i­fied, good rid­dance Satoshi/Sunny, and may the most noble man exploit the oth­er.

More threats, more lack of details, more grandios­i­ty, and he’s expanded his claimed details - who is Sun­ny? (Ap­par­ently a ref­er­ence to Sunny King, cre­ator of inter­est­ing alt­coins & , read­ers sug­gest.) What on earth is this “reverse dox” he talks about? Why did he ref­er­ence my Death Note essays (and which one, any­way, or ?)? I have no inter­est in a Fer­rari, and I do not live in New York at the moment, and I sin­cerely doubt that Ross Ulbricht’s lawyer Bran­don LeBlanc has received any visit from Jack. He is still writ­ing like a crazy per­son, to my dis­ap­point­ment. But there are some rhetor­i­cal gems of pur­ple prose in here that remind me why I led Jack on: I could never have writ­ten a line like “my intel­li­gence at hand, in fact, exceeded yours by an order that is as expected is unimag­in­able.”. An order as expected as it is unimag­in­able! The mind reels.

I indulged myself with fur­ther mock­ery (and some allu­sions since I was start­ing to feel a lit­tle like Beat­rice) in my reply:

Dear Author: as your most ded­i­cated read­er, I perused the lat­est install­ment of your ongo­ing ser­ial with utmost inter­est, yet I felt some­how dis­ap­pointed when I came to the end. Meta-­fic­tion is a dif­fi­cult genre to work in and requires a deft hand; in par­tic­u­lar, one must not set up too many sub­plots or Chekhov guns that one can­not even­tu­ally resolve, par­tic­u­larly in the ortho­dox mys­tery genre where the reader does expect the Deca­logue to be fol­lowed and a solu­tion to exist. Given the pro­longed delay in the final reveal and con­tin­ued mono­logu­ing from the appar­ent vil­lain char­ac­ter, I am con­cerned that the end­ing will ulti­mately be a cop out, with per­haps some cliche res­o­lu­tion like “it was all a dream” or “it was all drug-in­duced para­noia” or “it was a bluff”. If so, a reader might justly feel betrayed and cer­tainly not give the tale a pos­i­tive review in the Strand.

I see there are 7 days left before the promised denoue­ment. I look for­ward to an intel­lec­tu­al, yet ele­gant game. Sin­cere­ly, your reader

13 December

Jack’s response came promptly the next day:

I main­tain my posi­tion; yet again:

  1. Solu­tions for this prob­lem do exist (with pre­ci­sion).
  2. For­tu­nate­ly, I am a man of my word before a man of prin­ci­ple.
  3. I guess you missed the part where this game end­ed?

Why not find a clever way to avoid the prob­lem in its entire­ty?
I 100% have no inten­tion of hid­ing from you. That wal­let is a fresh start Gwern.

I offer a solu­tion to ensure that this does not hap­pen again, includ­ing a thor­ough
expla­na­tion of every­thing I have com­piled from this infil­tra­tion that led me to my
cer­tain­ty. Is that not enough? Con­sider every other com­mit­ment I have made and
appre­ci­ate that I made it to you before an extremely com­pe­tent ana­lyst devot­ing the
time to this case did. I assure you this is a small price to pay for an alliance of sorts,
the prob­a­bil­ity of hav­ing any amount of luck in align­ing such a scheme in any other
life­time before falling prey to mis­take is some­thing so unlikely that even reach­ing
out to any stealth assas­si­na­tion mar­ket you may or may not have con­structed is of a
lit­tle worth in a time frame of 7 days when I’m under­ground for the sole pur­pose.
You under­stand where this is going, you also real­ize that I’m a bet­ter friend than foe,
and so, I think allud­ing to Check­u­v’s gun is a sad reflec­tion of your entire down­fall at
this point. I will tell you how this game ended to clar­ify any mis­con­cep­tion­s…I gave you
a time-­stamp and it’s up to you to put a price on your free­dom, and the nec­es­sary
trust that you must have for me. I would be will­ing to play on your terms, but first you accept
mine that have been clear. I will reit­er­ate, there is no other story I will tell, we can be on
track as soon as you choose to see how eas­ily it is to haunt me in the exact same man­ner,
as a posi­tion of respect I have encrypted this for you. I am quite offended by some of the
accu­sa­tions you are mak­ing, but I do not believe in such stu­pidi­ties. We share com­mon
ground in that we are extremely pas­sion­ate and have an unwa­ver­ing con­vic­tion in our
tone when deal­ing with cer­tainty beyond what oth­ers will claim con­spir­a­cy. Even more
so when we con­trol the absolute future of the sto­ry.

I’ll close, again, with the cer­tainty that any resis­tance will surely be your demise at this point.
This you under­stand is timed, and I can’t agree today is the 7th day, it is actu­ally the 6th day.
As such, I am cer­tain there is a penalty applied to the total. You can stop this increase
by mak­ing that ini­tial deposit at any time. After which, I will be sure to con­tact you again
from a dif­fer­ent account to a con­nected pseu­do­nym (OPSEC pur­pos­es) to con­tinue this crit­i­cal
dis­cus­sion. If this is not agree­able, then I con­tend that you will most cer­tainly be the next big
story for the entire world but not before your name is dragged in the the dirt and you’re tor­tured
for your unearthly pos­ses­sions by some rogue team won­der­ing how on earth they missed you.

If this does­n’t make it clear how every­thing will fol­low after this mes­sage then I fear for
the unfor­tu­nate state of limbo you will be liv­ing when you hear the news break of a
shock­ing dis­cov­ery and a total rever­sal in Ross’ pend­ing case includ­ing the details that
will surely have your name every­where, no thanks to me. I will be watch­ing that address
and fol­low­ing your oblig­a­tions I will con­tinue to be a man of my word if you so choose to start
treat­ing me with the respect I clearly deserve. If you should ignore every­thing I will be back
to col­lect the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion and close the case in the exact fash­ion I have explic­itly
men­tioned. Do not bother to write back, I will be on hia­tus for what­ever time it takes. I sug­gest
you either get a very good lawyer at this point or get your head out of your ass. Your suc­ceed­ing
responses only hurt your pock­ets among other things, I promise that to be 100% accu­rate if you
plan on fix­ing every­thing.

Until next time I will be vig­i­lant and hon­or­ing our every move Gwern.


I’m your very worst trou­ble right now, I just hope you catch that I have the very best inten­tions for you and there­fore wish you well, but also have equal capac­ity to make this life­time a very use­less one for you if you can­not come to the right con­clu­sions.

Good bye for now Gwern.

I was a lit­tle amused by the insin­u­a­tion that I was the San­juro run­ning “Assas­si­na­tion Mar­ket” and by Jack’s con­tin­ued high self­-es­teem (“an extremely com­pe­tent ana­lyst” no less!), but oth­er­wise, this was get­ting bor­ing: Jack’s threats were even cruder than before, and his claims even less cred­i­ble. I remarked that his writ­ings sounded crazy, but he’s kept it up long enough and made enough unsup­ported accu­sa­tions I’m begin­ning to won­der: maybe Jack really is crazy, and not sim­ply an imma­ture teen or drunk on the prospect of gain­ing mil­lions of dol­lars or adopt­ing a per­sona or try­ing to foil sty­lo­met­ric analy­sis or bluff­ing me on the off-chance I am Satoshi (the threats are risk-free after all2) or any of the other pos­si­bil­i­ties I had been con­sid­er­ing. Para­noid schiz­o­phre­nia? Bipo­lar dis­or­der in a manic phase? Some­thing more exotic? I try never to indulge in ad hominems because it’s far too tempt­ing to write inter­locu­tors off as lazy, stu­pid, or crazy - but crazy peo­ple do exist, after all. Think­ing about it more, Jack may be the first crazy per­son I have seri­ously dealt with at length on the Inter­net. Oh, I’ve seen plenty of crazy peo­ple online - I’ve laughed at , I’ve looked over Hacker News’s Los­ethos (with a sense of ‘there but for the grace of god’), I’ve watched other peo­ple argue with crazy peo­ple - but I think I’ve either never actu­ally dealt with them or quickly flipped the bozo bit on them and dis­en­gaged. Under nor­mal sit­u­a­tions, on nor­mal top­ics, I have no rea­son to talk with them at length and grandil­o­quence is unjus­ti­fied….

Arguably, the 20% chance is much too high, even inter­pret­ing it as a net prob­a­bil­ity that Satoshi would be able, will­ing, and actu­ally pay: it seems unlikely that one could write up a con­vinc­ing extor­tion note for that many peo­ple or that a calm care­ful per­son like Satoshi could be eas­ily bluffed. In addi­tion to the over­es­ti­mate and low hourly wage, the vari­ance of return would be lit­er­ally lot­tery-­like and not a good idea. On the other hand, “400 mil­lion peo­ple” is itself some­thing of a worst-­case since you could prob­a­bly assume Satoshi is male to halve it, and then assume he is a C++ pro­gram­mer to reduce it down to per­haps under a mil­lion peo­ple, which mas­sively decreases the denom­i­na­tor.

At least part of the prob­lem here is that in the crazy mir­ror land of the black­mar­kets and Bit­coin in gen­er­al, san­ity is hard to dis­tin­guish from insan­i­ty, there really are key bits of infor­ma­tion ran­dom par­ties can have, not every­one talks straight, black­mail does pay­off, and there really are hid­den mil­lion­aires & bil­lion­aires walk­ing around in plain sight. (As an exam­ple of the mir­rors of insan­i­ty, I invite any­one to read the Silk Road 2 forums and try to fig­ure out what was going on in Decem­ber 2013 - go and read the SSBD/Inigo/Libertas, the DPR2 key rota­tion, the Cir­rus announce­ment, Raoul’s quoted mes­sage from DPR2, the posts by Def­con, the ‘acci­den­tal’ access to the admin forum, Eiley Orms­by’s com­ments, Ora­cle’s insin­u­a­tions, the Tor­Mar­ket quote from the ven­dor forum, etc, and parse it into a sin­gle coher­ent sane nar­ra­tive. And con­sider what Satoshi’s esti­mated for­tune is at any momen­t.)

If Jack is crazy, should I be talk­ing to him at all? He prob­a­bly knows noth­ing, mere logic would not con­vince him, and it seems like the wrong thing could pro­voke him into some sort of regret­table action. And it’s not like I can do any­thing to help, he’s prac­ticed rea­son­ably good opsec as far as I could tell. But… I did enjoy writ­ing another reply mock­ing him again and rub­bing his nose in his fail­ure to pro­vide any evi­dence:

A reader could hardly ask for a more detailed response from their favorite fic­tional author! But I fear you became so wrapt in your impro­vised per­for­mance you entirely neglected the orig­i­nal goal: pro­vid­ing any evi­dence what­so­ever of your claims. Zero. How can you pos­si­bly expect me or any­one to seri­ously con­sider giv­ing you so much as a sin­gle bit­coin based on your log­or­rhea and cryp­tic threats? Even ordi­nary black­mail­ers at least do their vic­tims the cour­tesy of prov­ing they have what they claim to have. You seem oddly offended that I even ask rather than pay up imme­di­ate­ly. This is con­ducive to one con­clu­sion, as I stated at the begin­ning of our enjoy­able lit­tle cor­re­spon­dence: that you are bluff­ing and you in no wise have the damn­ing evi­dence you claim to have.

I look for­ward to the infor­ma­tion about Ross, your proof that I am Satoshi, the alt­coin mate­ri­al, and the many other fas­ci­nat­ing things you have alluded to. Don’t dis­ap­point me, Jack! If you can pro­vide a good case for any of that, it will be the bestest Christ­mas gift ever!

Seri­ous­ly, for all you say I’m a genius, you must think I’m a moron.

I must not have pro­voked him as well as I thought, because his reply was the remark­ably lacon­ic:


Zut! Per­haps an insult­ing pun?

So. I guess you don’t know jack.

Ah, that got more of a response from Jack:

I do! I know that I promised this was going to be the worst mis­take of your life Gwern. This will also be the worst Christ­mas of your life since you’re so seem­ingly opti­mistic.

I’ll be clos­ing this account now.

And indeed, the jack0fnone Red­dit account was delet­ed.

But did the Jack saga end there? No. For­tu­nately (or unfor­tu­nate­ly), on 8:57PM EST 2013-12-13, I received a mes­sage from the Red­dit user satoshispudding:


Dear­est Nate, I just wanted to do you the cour­tesy of pass­ing this mes­sage on in a timely fash­ion. I rec­og­nize
that we had made an arrange­ment, and to that end I feel as if you’ve made the obvi­ous deci­sion to shrug off the guilt.
There­fore, I want to clar­ify that the due date spec­i­fied will be null and void upon fin­ish­ing this mes­sage. For times sake!

My advice? Skip­ping past the pol­i­tics and the flashy new oppor­tu­ni­ties you’ve worked to secure; I think your par­ents
will feel most deserv­ing of a call that will lightly touch on the impli­ca­tions of the cases you’re about to be dragged
through. Per­haps a call to Matt is in order as well? How’s Sil­ver Pro­duc­tions doing??? I can’t believe that any of them
will see the del­i­cate or artis­tic side of any of these pro­jects.

Obvi­ous­ly, you will be inform­ing them that this week­end is one of the last week­ends you will have to enjoy as a free man.
Do also inform them that you have com­m­mit­ted some very ter­ri­ble crimes against your coun­try and against human­i­ty.
Any chance of see­ing LF as a safe-haven for retire­ment is now gone (duh), and the Sil­ver name that they’ve worked so
hard to pre­serve will in fact be tainted (among so many other things) before the new year gets any lead at all.

Oh the great plea­sure it would bring me to make some­thing more eth­i­cal of this exchange by shak­ing hands in front
of Reid Hall (GO CAXY’S!) now that might have been some­thing mem­o­rable, but I can’t imag­ine this exchange brings you
any sort of sat­is­fac­tion what­so­ev­er.

The new time­line I will set for the start­ing date of your most mis­er­able days you’ve come to know them is 12/16/2013.

Your out­stand­ing debt at cur­rent is $650,000,000 and in just a few hours time (~1.5) it will have sur­passed a value of
$1,150,000,000 accord­ing to the dates and spec­i­fi­ca­tions I’ve out­lined (with­out any pay­ment received yet). I antic­i­pate
that you are still untrace­able, inno­cent, and above all, I am still an “ama­teur” with noth­ing to prove. For that very rea­son,
I am mak­ing it clear that I’ve reached a new level of dis­agree­ment and dis­sat­is­fac­tion in our present nego­ti­a­tions; I hope
that my adjust­ments as well as clear stand­ing posi­tion through­out the course of this resolve is indica­tive of my clear
inten­tions once we’ve set­tled. If not, then your greed and clear inabil­ity to make the right deci­sion to fold, will ensure
that you’ve set­tled your mul­ti­ple debts in an envi­ron­ment that we both know is far less acco­mo­dat­ing and stim­u­lat­ing.

I see it wise to trust that we’re not so dif­fer­ent Nate, take this small loss into account and make some­thing more of it
with my help. Call­ing me crazy, con­sid­er­ing every­thing that I’ve promised will fall on you is not the most bril­liant
move to make. In any case, you say the proof is in the pud­ding! I hope you’ve swal­lowed your por­tion and truly feel
that I’m far more pre­pared than you pre­vi­ously assumed. For the last time I am here choos­ing to offer some­thing more
ben­e­fi­cial for both of us. You have big­ger things on your plate to han­dle right now, I agree with that much. Since this story
is cer­tain to change it’s course at this point, I sure hope you’re pre­pared to deal with the con­se­quences of your deci­sions if
we should still remain in dis­agree­ment Nate.

Oh, come on - now I’m sup­posed to be ‽ This is just too absurd: Sil­ver is a busy man who trav­els the coun­try and writes books and is con­stantly ana­lyz­ing sports (a topic I have close to zero inter­est in). Nor am I as good at sta­tis­tics as Sil­ver is. (One day…) I must be quite the men­sch to keep all these plates spin­ning and per­sonas run­ning - “Christ, what an imag­i­na­tion I’ve got!”

A threat to call ‘my’ par­ents or ‘Matt’ (no idea who that is) is hardly a threat to me. I am sure Jack did not call them any­more than he met with Ulbricht’s lawyer. More patho­log­i­cal mega­lo­ma­nia and lying. Jack has issues, but I am not qual­i­fied to say what they are and no way to inter­vene, sad­ly. Is it moral to keep argu­ing with a nut? Might­n’t it nur­ture their delu­sions or, in remote sce­nar­ios, spur them into vio­lence? Jack had given no evi­dence that they had found my real iden­ti­ty, so I was no longer wor­ried for my own sake, but Sil­ver is a pub­lic fig­ure who could be located and attacked.

Won­der­ing about whether I should finally bring his mono­logu­ing to a halt, I chick­ened out and repeated my pre­vi­ous mes­sage with a tweak:

I look for­ward to the truth about DPR, your proof that I am Satoshi and Nate Sil­ver, the exchanges I am the mas­ter­mind, and the many other fas­ci­nat­ing things you have alluded to. Don’t dis­ap­point me, Jack! If you can pro­vide a good case for any of that, it will be the bestest Christ­mas gift ever!

14 December

On 9:33 PM, I was graced with another mes­sage from satoshispudding:

LOL it was in the name of keep­ing all spir­its lifted so I hope you can under­stand that I respect a good nights sleep (also get bored). You clearly deserve it since you were fool­ish enough to gam­ble away your free­doms straight through into the bil­lion mark­er. What will your wife say when this all gets going Gwern?

I think you mis­un­der­stood me. I made it clear that the evi­dence I pos­sess demon­strates that you have col­lab­o­ra­tively been oper­at­ing sev­eral illicit mar­ket­places, are orches­trat­ing an unmen­tion­able amount of scams on bit­, and oper­at­ing busi­nesses that are laun­der­ing BILLIONS in all of this scam/pre-mined money through­out the world; specif­i­cally the US, Japan, UK, and Chi­na.

Let’s not dis­tract our­selves with the entire list of charges right now, instead let me remind you that this ponzi scheme of yours has left sev­eral inno­cent peo­ple in jail and indebted to the courts as I have repeat­edly stat­ed. Also, you’re shock­ingly respon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing fraud­u­lent infor­ma­tion to the FBI and the CIA, there’s no doubt about the for­mer or lat­ter in your case.

I guess this is where you send my warmest regards specif­i­cally to Rick and Max; I’ll be rush­ing for both of them as well while you’re locked up in some Cal­i­for­nia State Prison and an inmate is “pud­ding” it all in a more ele­gant way.

Lessons Learned:

1. Make sure to be super OPSEC now and delete that pub­lic PGP key so that when the feds come and con­fis­cate every­thing this week you’re all safe LOL.

3. Cryp­tog­ra­phy is use­ful when both par­ties have some­thing they must encrypt, else­where trans­parency is pre­ferred in com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

6. You are beyond fucked.

2. 2 bil­lion dol­lars deep into this entire mess, and none the wiser about the sim­ple fact that you were doomed from the start–just as I had reas­sured you Gavin.

I’m throw­ing away the key you self­-right­eous, arro­gant prick. I also get to play the hero of your biggest story yet; I can­not wait to see your face!

The fail­ure to pro­vide any real evi­dence is by now pre­dictable, but there are still some inter­est­ing fea­tures. The men­tion of “Gavin” can only be a ref­er­ence to Gavin Andresen, well-­known Bit­coin devel­op­er, imply­ing that my secret activ­i­ties & iden­ti­ties are even more exhaust­ing than I thought; Jack inad­ver­tently raises an inter­est­ing meta­phys­i­cal ques­tion when he asks what my (nonex­is­tent) wife would think of my crimes; and his num­ber­ing scheme is delight­fully eccen­tric (why is les­son #2 so much less impor­tant than #3 & #6? and are lessons #4 & #5 too top-se­cret to tell a man who is “beyond fucked”?).

Regard­less, this game was start­ing to become tire­some. Jack is not say­ing any­thing gen­uinely new, so I quickly replied with another chal­lenge on the evi­dence:

Let’s not dis­tract our­selves with the entire list of charges right now

No no, let’s dis­tract our­selves! After all, if what you say is true, I will be going to jail for a long time and won’t be enjoy­ing myself. Let’s get into all the nit­ty-grit­ty, like who my wife is or how I am Nate Sil­ver and Satoshi Nakamoto and Gwern Bran­wen and Gavin Andresen and They­mos and Fontas, and what proof you have. After all, there’s only 2 days left on your dead­line, right? Surely there’s no harm in post­ing your dossier pub­licly. What’s a dox between friends?

If he replied with any evi­dence, the mono­logue might be worth lis­ten­ing to fur­ther, oth­er­wise, it was time to con­sider draw­ing this episode to a close.

15 December

10 AM:

LOL obvi­ously you’re not Nate Sil­ver. Your wife is Michele Cook-An­dresen, and your 2 chil­dren:

  • Dis­gusted (Robin)
  • Father­less (Will)

I dou­ble checked the spelling…I know how you feel about ama­teur sub­mis­sions.

I knew you were never going to pay any­thing Gav­in, you dope. You imme­di­ately struck me as some­one far too igno­rant to gra­ciously accept the idea of an unan­tic­i­pated inter­me­di­ary step­ping in and tak­ing an active role in secur­ing the big show. Instead, this is what the world will acknowl­edge to be your des­per­ate “reach” after a very mis­cal­cu­lated per­for­mance on your behalf. I’ve arranged the terms of our agree­ment mul­ti­ple times, they 100% will not change for the life of any­one. Hon­esty is the most impor­tant tool in our nego­ti­a­tion, I am unbi­ased and com­mit­ted to strictly con­duct­ing our future busi­ness pro­ceed­ings with a pri­or­ity for my safety and yours.

I’m quite offended by just how thick you’ve come to think I am. We are most cer­tainly not friends, you’ve made that clear and there is noth­ing new to nego­ti­ate at this point read­ing your demands. Espe­cially when your out­stand­ing debts sur­passed ~2 mil­lion bit­coins. Your excite­ment is very telling (noth­ing unex­pected there) so let me just reas­sure you that you will have the oppor­tu­nity to get into the nit­ty-gritty of every­thing in sub­stan­tial detail + other MAJOR charges soon enough.

I’m a man of my word, as I have only con­tin­ued to be. There­fore my sug­ges­tion is that you make time to dis­cuss, first and fore­most, the series of unfor­tu­nate events that will plague all of you on this bestest Christ­mas, Gavin. I’d per­son­ally start with your fam­i­ly, then dis­close every­thing to the few other nec­es­sary indi­vid­u­als at the foundation/elsewhere. We both know where this is likely expected to go. Note: there’s very high cer­tainty on my end that it is not a full dis­clo­sure of your dox over lunch/skype with the solu­tions promised. So, at this point I’d say that I’m 99.999999% sure I’m going to head out East. I’ll leave you to brain­storm­ing, Gavin. I’d say you’re an incred­i­bly inter­est­ing man, but you already know that in detail. Oh hey! Also…­can I fill in for you at Zero-Hedge?

I need you to inform Roger and Erik that I will be send­ing for them too. This is con­cern­ing every­thing ugly I was talk­ing about from our con­ver­sa­tion ear­lier this week. I’m off to cel­e­brate, I hope that you can under­stand why.

Lessons Learned:


I can say with great con­fi­dence, that this is a clear dis­play of idiocy from sev­eral at its finest. Have a good day “friend”.

I can only shake my head at this - if I’m “obvi­ously not Nate Sil­ver” then what the hell was the “Nate” and “Sil­ver Pro­duc­tions” before about? (Is “Roger” Roger Ver? Then “Erik” must be Erik Voorhees.) But Jack seems to be stick­ing to his ‘Natoshi Gwern­vin’ story in bring­ing up “Michele Cook-An­dresen” (Gavin Andresen’s real wife, accord­ing to a WSJ pro­file of Andresen) and appar­ently claim­ing he has found Gav­in’s chil­dren’s names (I did not check this part).

I am trou­bled at Jack bring­ing up Gav­in’s fam­i­ly. In par­tic­u­lar, by the “I’m going to head out East” line: Gav­in’s pub­lic pro­files like his Twit­ter account state he lives in Amher­st, MA - which would indeed be in the “East” for most of the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion. So I emailed Andresen a copy of my write­up. I decided it was prob­a­bly bet­ter to not reply fur­ther to Jack until I heard back.

22 December

After read­ing it, he gave me per­mis­sion to pub­lish it and did not seem wor­ried. I sent Jack a final PM:

Your last mes­sage is appalling: you are mak­ing threats of vio­lence against iden­ti­fi­able peo­ple, their spous­es, and their chil­dren - you’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decen­cy, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decen­cy?

I’ve informed Gavin of every­thing and have posted a full writeup of our lit­tle tête-à-tête to I think we are done here for good.

But I want to add a last com­ment (par­tially out of grat­i­tude for the inter­est­ing time, par­tially because I feel guilty for lead­ing you on even after mat­ters became clear).

I do not think you are well. I have shown your mono­logues to many peo­ple, and almost to a man, they find them… off. Abnor­mal. ‘Hilar­i­ous’, ‘grandiose’, ‘mega­lo­ma­ni­a­cal’, ‘dis­or­ga­nized’, ‘dis­eased’, ‘para­noid-schiz­o­phrenic’, ‘bipo­lar’ - these are the words peo­ple use after read­ing through your mes­sages. Leav­ing aside the fact that almost all your research is fun­da­men­tally wrong, just your writ­ing style alone evinces that you are not alright. I don’t know if you suf­fer from men­tal ill­ness, or if it is due to the drug you men­tioned abus­ing (metham­phet­a­mine?), but you are not well. You may think you are well, or think you are respon­si­bly using your favored drug, or you may even think your prob­lem is a gifted that pro­vides you spe­cial insight into the world beyond the norm; but you are not, and it is not. You need to get help before you wreck your own life or anoth­er’s. It only takes one slip to do some­thing that can­not be undone. Please do some­thing about your prob­lem: if it’s drug abuse, get help quit­ting; if it’s undi­ag­nosed schiz­o­phre­nia or bipo­lar dis­or­der, there are effec­tive treat­ments, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and oth­er­wise, for those issues.

But ignor­ing the prob­lem won’t make it go away.

I did receive one last mes­sage on 2014-02-03:

Just some crazy guy,

It’s so odd how Char­lie was a free man one day and now his life is basi­cally over. We both knew what a pawn he really was though. Tell Gavin I said thanks for allow­ing you to pub­lish me last mon­th! I’m sure the bit­coin foun­da­tion has been thrilled to receive calls all this past week about last weeks inci­dent lol!

You should’ve acted when you had the chance, I’m sorry to see bit­coin hit the ground so fast this year. The day I stand before you Gwern, you’ll wish it was all under very dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances. You’ll wish we were stand­ing look­ing at each other at eye­-level too. But most­ly, you’ll wish we were less than ene­mies from the start, because I reached out to help and you spit in my face lol.

Meth? Schizo? Real­ly!? Lol way to mix it up for your audi­ence even changed up the text a bit I see? I can’t wait to meet you in the flesh–­soon enough!! I obvi­ously have never had proof so please do me the cour­tesy of putting this last mes­sage up on Have a splen­did year! ;) RIP Satoshi/BTC Foun­da­tion 2014.


As of 2016-07-23, I have heard noth­ing fur­ther from Jack, nor of any real-­world inci­dents con­nected to this. So he seems to have given up. I hope he did get help, but I am not opti­mistic. It was an inter­est­ing expe­ri­ence, over­all. But I think the next time I receive a strange men­tion and casu­ally note that it sounded like the author was crazy, I will prob­a­bly ignore it or break the con­ver­sa­tion off ear­ly: one dia­logue with a crazy per­son is enough.




At 8:53PM, I received 2 threat­en­ing emails from “ya pravda ”, read­ing as fol­lows:

I’ll come straight to the point. I am com­pil­ing a detailed report which will out you as Dan Crow. It includes sev­eral pages of irrefutable evi­dence that not even you could talk your way out of. I have no par­tic­u­lar inter­est in pub­lish­ing it - I actu­ally like most of your work, how­ev­er, I do need you to address a cou­ple of issues.

Which dark­net mar­kets are you involved with either directly or indi­rect­ly? Think very care­fully before answer­ing this ques­tion. If you pro­vide false infor­ma­tion I will ter­mi­nate this dia­logue and pub­lish my report.

…It seems a few peo­ple have taken a dis­like to evo­lu­tion mar­ket­place for no dis­cernible rea­son. I sus­pect many of those are your alias­es, but I haven’t even started to research just how much involve­ment you have in which mar­kets. It would seem to be an extra­or­di­nary coin­ci­dence if cloud nine mar­ket has noth­ing to do with you for exam­ple, but I need to do some more work on this. Any­way, I would like a copy of the report you wrote in the pri­vate mod sub­red­dit and full details of the dis­cus­sion with your con­tact (avid). If there are gen­uine secu­rity issues, we will take the site offline. You should also agree to dis­countinue all your attempts to dis­credit evo­lu­tion.

Version: GnuPG v1.4.11 (GNU/Linux)


I was a lit­tle amused by the ratio­nale given: you are both­ered by peo­ple bad­mouthing your mar­ket, so you decide to… go around threat­en­ing peo­ple? That does not seem like a very good way to win friends & influ­ence peo­ple.

But since I am not a “Dan Crow” (and my searches failed to turn up any­one of that nick on the DNMs or else­where), I was a lit­tle baf­fled by this, but after dis­cussing it with /u/the_avid (a secu­rity spe­cial­ist who has found holes in a num­ber of DNMs & con­sulted for them), we think this is a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Evo­lu­tion Mar­ket­place, which is a minor DNM founded by Anglo­phone carders after their Tor Card­ing Forum was hacked. the_avid had posted to a pri­vate sub­red­dit a short writeup (which I’ve since reposted pub­licly) of the his­tory of card­ing forums and why Anglo­phone card­ing forums were inse­cure & incom­pe­tent com­pared to the Slavic orig­i­nals, to sup­port his argu­ment that Evo­lu­tion was unusu­ally dan­ger­ous for drug buy­ers to use. Then a mod alluded to the post in a pub­lic dis­cus­sion when he implied Evo­lu­tion was to be avoid­ed, and while not IDing the_avid as the author, clearly was talk­ing about either him or myself. Hence the Evo­lu­tion staffer’s threats to me: he assumed I had writ­ten up the mate­r­ial based on tips from the_avid. A rea­son­able guess, but wrong.

The Dan Crow thing is sim­ply wrong, how­ev­er, and I was curi­ous what on earth led them to him. So I replied with my usual bait­ing:

We can talk when I see that report; since you were threat­en­ing to make it pub­lic any­way, that should be no skin off your nose.

But also as usu­al, they declined to cough up any­thing mean­ing­ful:

Wrong answer Dan.
Let’s try again.
Last time.

Which dark­net mar­kets are you involved with, either directly or indi­rect­ly?

If he really had a report with “irrefutable evi­dence” not even I could talk my way out of, and was plan­ning to make it pub­lic if I refused to give him infor­ma­tion, then he should be per­fectly happy to pro­vide me it and cut through all the tedious nego­ti­at­ing - I would see the iron­clad evi­dence, real­ize he had me by the curlies, and leak like a sieve. Hence, he was bluff­ing. Sad but pre­dictable. It occurred to me that I did­n’t yet have proof this was Evo­lu­tion’s fault; hypo­thet­i­cally speak­ing, it might be another DNM try­ing to make Evo­lu­tion look bad. So:

BTW, I for­got to ask this ear­lier but: how do I know you even rep­re­sent Evo­lu­tion in the first place? Which staffer are you?

Mak­ing me fur­ther sus­pi­cious, he welshed on any details:

Ok have it your way.
Don’t say I did­n’t give you a chance to fix this.

Since we were clearly done, I threw in a taunt:

So you were lying about being from Evo­lu­tion too? How dis­ap­point­ing.

No reply. A check of Red­dit and the Evo­lu­tion forums turned up no doxes either. Was it all a bluff?



On “Feb­ru­ary 08, 2015, 08:38:25 AM”, I received an encrypted PM on the Agora forums from a new account named “nwerg”, titled “your aver­age dox­ing”, which said:

Gwern, hav­ing perused your Black­mail page and hav­ing had a good laugh at the con­spir­a­to­r­ial wannabes there, I’m here to inform you that you can in fact be doxxed rather eas­i­ly. If I’m the first to do so, do I get a boun­ty?

Your full name is [], although you go by [].

Your birth­day is [].

You were prob­a­bly born in [], because your SSN begins with [].

Your moth­er’s full maiden name is [].

Your phone num­ber, or really your par­ents’ phone num­ber, is []. Their/your address is known, suf­fice it to say you’re about 60 miles away from [].

You have (or had) a dog named Char­lie.

You’ve done an amaz­ing job keep­ing pic­tures of your­self off the Inter­net, with one excep­tion that I could find ([]). You are the per­son in the cen­ter.

At this link ([]), in the com­ments, you messed up by hav­ing your real name next to the Gwern avatar.

I don’t know where I’m going with this though. I con­sid­ered coerc­ing you to hand over your bit­coin wal­let begin­ning with 1Gb89, but you would never acqui­esce because what’s pre­vent­ing me from repeat­edly demand­ing more money to not release the same infor­ma­tion? Noth­ing. How about if I vend the infor­ma­tion on Evo­lu­tion, where you seem to be dis­liked? Or upload the infor­ma­tion to Doxbin?

How about we com­pro­mise and you send me 2 BTC from that wal­let, and you have my word none of this ever gets out. My wal­let is 192sQ1WG7mMPMhTPJqqXCmVs1aGEhLuYuB

I will give you my pub­lic key in my next mes­sage.


mQINBFMi0mMBEADiL5Y6QHG6Dm+GNaz+Eea5IYRxc7HlaOh+2PM8MMEEZswElEHI tctmX5+/mczoLq4tMu5CCAlR58KZjiF1tSn1u2DqkEUJxJg2FAG9SiHRZG/Uwuux 6pSIO+Qxip7m75DYjkvIL7M+cQudJSZLXueXttULbP9sGo07VyTceRwT2/Mn3/Ow Y2HoK­wJu­lU1cT­GnkIGb­N­p38t73oS2n4m1ev+r5tZ3r­GR­was0J52+Ps­D8aP­BryGuT FrF970y­c­QP­mir1x15MvM8b­VmYP6T­b­V­Na­GAq6GiX0i­u­jCdQbe­PO6s+l­Hep­MX­h+dYI 5ytmqXYAs81qunn0uPTkpSTTqEMbqroIcNQScmOxLACMyb27cAiP+spFd+m42t3U gyDx3qQ3h6YB05uL0X/cBUhNMwMU9pVuQ/zEQQ2tWY7wLu+SiX6w0sfbT+SjBqFF GZnk7+X1E6G2G8k6XEpbCw1QfgSaUVd65lT4OE6sT6zZ8/TrstXfL7zucaq4T/Ls kyGPC5/NoediGKXPTv2AACz92MktCDFT+HLs5m+KGQl7BB36hebLJKbuLjk4X0GO Z2LsBw504WwfiDcQBxhplUSU2ojzIv+hxPjZg8WxO5Z51pJa06L7vCzmQATU+4cZ ej9lF8G+5TdBfRhgvHCU0LlzhpaCSErZlo4P99b3xufGfY8Td+RY2GSuRQARAQAB tBVOIFMgQSA8b3BzZWNAbnNhLmdvdj6JAjYEEwEKACAFAlMi0mMCGwMFCwkIBwMF FQoJCAsEFgIBAAIeAQIXgAAKCRDXAmxuPiKIt6CREADXrrcaoVrkAGPQ43dTCl37 txt8Sq3wR7TyxYbyEXfx95IF5kpHBgElnkNZJT/abKkyc9j6FAlOON3IvWJwo4h/ uuoXl8Acitwwpyb8erlVBIAvvjion4k1K9Ste6CbMQIAkXSx2hk31XWzBdFJUALI ntTi1DNa9iMSe7qIjP+5of7Pz6FizZidUbINHwcv0duPrl5aB/vnh+F+FBWppPmL 2v/8/AceiYK9aQ9Y9hFN5C/5SZCQrNdcL320V31YsH1+ZUMjCgHTNqox2zKiO2+1 KVOfoHxo34P7VqtfoVvksgYgxRgOdSkZFBERYov6URULqVM/W8Vf1iz9BZlqrffx mpJeB73K2yp43WSH2HIBRy6JBOuzijrNsSOZetYED0FDXX+riGMUxCjGxBl/9aKc jciUzgPjHAROYmUncGvfxt/vldphdKNn6QqeLjFKYwrviSPLeWLm2pQjXxNUg89X HIsNw9cnWR1jllYmQETiJJ7hEO42j6xczFqkOKUcDpg5251dIzxcMtFH88Ged+NA dyw83tPCWlqEftOa1prR/2JahHOTlfxvc2EZw5yP42AyGJXyLkKtZ0wuXlwHlhtg 01Temejpctp2xTBe+x0VEqIEAJ0hRQj1Lf8iFluVnN0sMP/b8PgAOn5XNNmxyeAm 1q929kZz1ViuuHLY26ePIrkCDQRTItJjARAAovu32W8WKevPDnGfJRUlF0XdsYa4 MqNpmkSTqFdZjo57mFpwHjiU6M3Al63G/DZQ+V2LGMcICDYslpWttZPFriVtoNqh Lw/Dmd4m89hgEu1do9AEeqmH8RcPX2f2qWrN4e615kd8fTXnlwmnCn58pc80v6bI GSrKKMI6ivUn2nc2v46HRXqi7vp851WkH4CN9QPYUZgnk9loVp/PmZYYF6ebzp+2 AB+0qLNNs8GbIEjzSeXDYiFjaKOpt1kfANwWV91L/+fP/KWPy2C7m3uL3SU4ipKR n0Nolmw/R2GZoQ8fWNxTTGAsMK667cPCGPppM5bqi5u1mIhfq4wvGhTRqb7NHAVB TDzFDUmMwXnfkN6H0KQmiYRyIlvXqb+YOBywsAfQE0TByV0PuZdQKIRjnVI+IoWl 0kL+Hxz6Z3YHKtTLeoo3GvtGgGXkTV9DnucdK67SAPSHQBmgwO/ihjC28o6ml1TJ rJwP8o7VSWVrFqAnuhxk91iIu/KEodcv2C3o6B8h/Ctc0nXsT3gZe4tIPsuUFzkh cjd+8hOnimOOgoJQYGkvINXMOvzrgoLUvAh8sn9rZZn8ULYycQ6RM5W4x8JyBa0+ em659qjo3L51SEweBrABaRiEgxqSvwk+o+SCo7gbGT+I8UwXvN8mx+QUQSfq11+8 tAtZtyMccInStyMAEQEAAYkCHwQYAQoACQUCUyLSYwIbDAAKCRDXAmxuPiKIt8XU D/9pGfsaT1XFJsAqRaZ2YX7/A8iCScDkzSbazFrzp82cBcdwu+/AUPUE1BQxTpfK XI9A96bK7r3WV5m/jj2Br+BjJNUjhA+ufXNmgD6wDPcqvctjUppF2Mnn+q0JpGLY WFojrQ2aNuskO4em3b11oAYh5EZ7/jQvcWR6oN0HHwl3oO7Iw98DnX0PWt4hzBVR b7fu028IVQlMBefHvuM1bNAewoc3SvQPi+iU7Z9CWshUAuyaYtjZlVfQTrxBIPAS F10uP+BUPg4iShM2oM/SMgaPBUwWwSYzCuN+rh1JLnwiCDCvZasTDKUWbiu2ZR9I Up5Lj3kBEnL2d/HXSmk1GqN2FviIfzCvuRtzieVLz+HwFcu+oOmcrNwNozW3qpj+ fo/b36VxnxmEBcuob9NSn42budHCS0QXja26B+C4gtmurTLgdZi2jlWAO9YKKyGf 3wQyZWXDd9u/gcymyhFF+NfMpoy55OZRzvX1Sgjs4kcy5nZlScRnaTYKyFh/7lNj DY984jUpvsoI+UvrBILC+SFDRBepExok40/ZD+t7olSBEUktMmPCm5Y11YGM5U/A cIuaTtWkklHTwOVAtDSthPYhOZRjwjfhdpUS3yRtO9UgN+uQE/MvoLAuyx7ovvAS 6o/CuzeAUMfQJ+rm9YpWJQQkLu8CJkqs3Ns9H8UmvzNc8w== =9iTw —–END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK—–

I replied 3 days later on 2015-02-11:

Gwern, hav­ing perused your Black­mail page and hav­ing had a good laugh at the con­spir­a­to­r­ial wannabes there, I’m here to inform you that you can in fact be doxxed rather eas­i­ly. If I’m the first to do so, do I get a boun­ty?

Nah. I think I phrased it as no one both com­pe­tent and malev­o­lent has doxed me yet? Even exclud­ing old friends and acquain­tances, at least 3 or 4 peo­ple that I know of have already done it. (The first one did it through my sis­ter, which is totally cheat­ing, but nev­er­the­less.)

Your phone num­ber, or really your par­ents’ phone num­ber, is []. Their/your address is known, suf­fice it to say you’re about 60 miles away from [].

Their. Unfor­tu­nate, real­ly; I would have liked to attend the Ulbricht tri­al.

You have (or had) a dog named Char­lie.

Had. Sad, I really thought he’d make it to this year.

At this link ([]), in the com­ments, you messed up by hav­ing your real name next to the Gwern avatar.

Oh wow, I did­n’t even know about that one! I always fig­ured peo­ple would go through some­thing more obvi­ous like Pay­pal.

I con­sid­ered coerc­ing you to hand over your bit­coin wal­let begin­ning with 1Gb89, but you would never acqui­esce because what’s pre­vent­ing me from repeat­edly demand­ing more money to not release the same infor­ma­tion? Noth­ing.

I’ve thought about the prob­lem a lit­tle myself. From an eco­nom­ics per­spec­tive, black­mail should be fine: if there are gains from trade to be had, peo­ple will pay it, oth­er­wise they won’t. And it can serve as a cheap decen­tral­ized law enforce­ment. From a black­mar­ket per­spec­tive, it’s a stand­ing offer to all pen­testers, which is, in the long run, good for black­mar­ket users.

But the upfront pay­ment does not work for exactly that trust rea­son, which seems to bar deals. My con­clu­sion is that the solu­tion is sim­ple: instead of demand­ing a lump­sum, a black­mailer should demand a stream of small pay­ments, and the black­mailee buys silence in chunks. So for exam­ple, sup­pose the value of not being black­mailed is 2btc; you can’t sim­ply demand 2btc upfront because there is no way to cred­i­bly com­mit to not releas­ing the data; what you could do instead is extract the net present value equiv­a­lent of 2btc over an indef­i­nite time period by demand­ing 0.0083btc per month indef­i­nite­ly; that’s 0.1btc per year, and if I dis­count at a rea­son­able value of 5% per year, then the net present value of that stream of pay­ments is indeed ~2btc ( = 2.05), so the black­mailer loses noth­ing if he’s hon­est - but it has the impor­tant fea­ture that pay­ments by the black­mailee can be dis­con­tin­ued imme­di­ately if the black­mailer welsh­es.

(DPR’s pay­ments to the SR1 DoSer is an exam­ple of this: he paid week­ly, so if the DoSer had gone back on his word, DPR could sim­ply stop pay­ing.)

How about we com­pro­mise and you send me 2 BTC from that wal­let, and you have my word none of this ever gets out. My wal­let is 192sQ1WG7mMPMhTPJqqXCmVs1aGEhLuYuB

I think you know I’m not going to pay any­thing. It would be annoy­ing to have my name splashed all over, but I resigned myself to that back in ~2010 when I decided to set up my web­site; I see Gwern as a pen name now, and not a real pseu­do­nym. I’m glad it man­aged to last to 2015.

How about if I vend the infor­ma­tion on Evo­lu­tion, where you seem to be dis­liked?

I don’t think they dis­like me that much… The threat on my Black­mail page was because of the_avid’s essay and I posted that pub­licly a while ago, so why would they pay for my dox now?

Or upload the infor­ma­tion to Doxbin?

You can, but I’m not sure why you would both­er.

I will give you my pub­lic key in my next mes­sage.

FWIW, it’s safer to include the pub­lic key in the orig­i­nal mes­sage. Harder to pull off any sort of MITM or leak the fact that a key exchange is being done.

Also, the Agora forums is a bad con­tact. I don’t read it because it’s so stuffed with spam, I just crawl it. I saw your PM only because I was check­ing the cookie was still valid.

Agora forum down­time meant he did­n’t reply until the 13th:

You removed the com­ment, I see. Not even a token 0.01 BTC for alert­ing you to its pres­ence?

Actu­al­ly… you make a good point about that one. I did­n’t know about it at all, and so I did learn some­thing inter­est­ing from you (specif­i­cal­ly, that Gra­vatar betrayed me). I’m not going to pay black­mail, but I am will­ing to pay for inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion, and ₿0.01 is a fair amount.

Any­how, you’ve been a good sport about the whole thing, I’d frankly have been amazed if you gave me any­thing. So unlike most doxxers, I’ll prob­a­bly keep this to myself and just fade back into the mist and you’ll never hear from me again. No Doxbin, no Evo­lu­tion. This entire exer­cise was mainly in response to the accu­mu­la­tion of fan­boys you seem to have devel­oped on Red­dit, who think of you as a demi-­god for some rea­son. This was my petty way of show­ing that, no, you’re not some super-anony­mous enig­ma, you’re just a [].

I never claimed oth­er­wise. I find the recent stuff on Red­dit more than a lit­tle over the top as well. Or have you seen the stuff on Quo­ra? Some­one seems to spend an inor­di­nate amount of time com­ing up with all sorts of bizarre and often per­sonal ques­tions they seem to want me to answer…

And Pay­Pal had noth­ing to do with it, BTW. No, the actual method was even more pro­saic: a sim­ple [] ..

I fig­ured as much. As far as I know, [] and [] are prob­a­bly the main leaks. IIRC, I accepted the risk with [] but I got care­less about the [].

As a post-script, feel free to add this con­ver­sa­tion to your Black­mail page, with your vital details redact­ed, as it would amuse me to no end. Though I doubt it’s going to hap­pen.

Of course. There’s no point in hav­ing a big black­mail page to prove that I don’t pay black­mail - and then leave inci­dents out!


Last ques­tion: I noticed the let­ters in “gwern bran­wen” hap­pens to be con­tained in your full real name (in­clud­ing mid­dle name). Was that on pur­pose, or a happy coin­ci­dence? I con­sid­ered ana­gram­ming your whole name but decided I’d just ask you instead.

More than a coin­ci­dence, less than on pur­pose; with my funny name, I’ve always been drawn to more con­so­nan­t-y names, so the over­lap is not ran­dom.

Of my attempted black­mail­ers and dox­ers, nwerg was by far the most com­pe­tent and I actu­ally learned some­thing from him.


In Novem­ber 2015, A.P. suc­ceeded in de-anonymiz­ing me through a known route (not Gra­vatar). He declined the boun­ty.



In July 2017, G.W. de-anonymized me by care­ful use of names on social media and grad­u­ally tying them togeth­er, find­ing the same thing as the ear­lier Feb­ru­ary 2015 de-anonymiza­tion as well. (Since the other items would’ve suf­ficed, I count his as a sep­a­rate de-anonymiza­tion.) He declined the boun­ty.


In Novem­ber 2017, A.T. emailed me about a deanonymiza­tion some time ago, but unfor­tu­nately for­got how exactly he did it, and declined the boun­ty.


In Decem­ber 2017, one per­son noted that some of my old 2013 Bit­coin sale trans­ac­tions on #bitcoin-otc hap­pened to leak my name via bank accounts. Whups. (They did not claim the boun­ty.)

See Also



On 2014-04-09, my anony­mous feed­back form was used to link to a “fan­fic” on—a story of Satoshi cre­at­ing the Gen­e­sis Block. (I am not sure if the pro­tag­o­nist is sup­posed to be me.) I felt it was good enough that it did not deserve to expire, and archive it here with some gen­tle anno­ta­tion.


He imag­ined her mouth pressed against the tile floor and winced. The muf­fled voice had descended from the bath­room on the first floor, the source of the main vent stack, which parted the insu­la­tion between the floor joists above and descended into the cement floor below. She knew he could hear him through this rather dis­agree­able con­duit, even over the per­sis­tent hum­ming and click­ing.

“Lunch is ready!”

The thuds of her bound­ing foot­steps rever­ber­ated as they trailed off towards the din­ing room.

Return­ing his focus to the work­sta­tion in front of him, he dis­tract­edly lifted the teacup sit­ting to the left of the mon­i­tor to his lips, and tak­ing a sip, quickly real­ized how cold it was. Set­ting it back down on the porce­lain coaster with a gri­mace, he paused, eye­ing it, before gen­tly nudg­ing it into align­ment with the cir­cu­lar brown stain per­ma­nently embed­ded atop the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois logo.

The base­ment was only par­tially fin­ished: tacky wood pan­el­ing lined all four exte­rior walls, yet there were no par­ti­tion walls, other than a bump-out near the front of the house that enclosed a small, dis­mal, emer­gen­cy-use bath­room. Next to the bath­room stood a dust-­cov­ered bar piled high with boxes and cruft, decades removed from any use for its intended pur­pose. Clearly the work of a for­mer own­er, per­formed piece­meal over months of nights and week­ends, with the expected result: a half-fin­ished, shoddy job, and surely a far cry from the orig­i­nal mag­nan­i­mous vision.

It had been cold down here, too: though the boiler for the radi­ant heat­ing sys­tem stood along the side wall, no radi­a­tors had been installed below grade. There was only the click of the boil­er’s cir­cuit, the whoosh of the flames, and the screech of the flue clos­ing to keep him com­pa­ny, as the sys­tem per­co­lated the heat up through the cen­tu­ry-old pip­ing, ben­e­fit­ing only the non-troll­ish fam­ily mem­bers upstairs.

But it had­n’t been so much as chilly down here for at least a year and a half – even now, in early Jan­u­ary, what with all those lit­tle dynamos around. He swiveled in his chair to con­sider them. They had been good lit­tle troop­ers, over­all.

A wide book­shelf, long dis­gorged of such diverse tomes as The The­ory of Money and Credit, The Feyn­man Lec­tures on Physics, and Cri­tique of Pure Rea­son, over­flowed now with spare power sup­plies, stacks of tiny sil­ver hard disks, and a spaghetti bowl of yel­low and blue Cat-5 patch cables – half of them neatly coiled and tied off, the other half dan­gling in loose curls halfway to the dusty floor.

To the side of the book­shelf, and across from his work­sta­tion table, another pre­vi­ous own­er, prior even to the shoddy work­er, had installed an N-gauge train set, tak­ing up a good eight by six­teen chunk of floor­space. It was­n’t entirely enclosed, though: an ingress had been cut into it, so one could get right in the cen­ter and watch the trains travel their routes up close and per­son­al. It was the six­ties ver­sion of a man-­cave: some­where to get away, if only for a moment, from the per­sis­tent demands of fam­ily mem­bers above.

Of course all the good stuff that once existed on the minia­ture land­scape, the stuff that was­n’t glued down, had been taken long ago, leav­ing the improb­a­bly diverse ter­rain - snow-­capped moun­tain peaks (re­plete with required tun­nel) descend­ing into a small rural town bor­dered by rolling farm­lands - utterly devoid of any engines or cars, though the var­i­ous farm­steads, train sta­tions, and gas sta­tions remained.

It would almost be post-apoc­a­lyp­tic, if not for the few res­i­dents that remained: the paper boy hold­ing aloft today’s edi­tion, the busi­ness­man on the train plat­form (glanc­ing at his watch for eter­ni­ty), the farmer car­ry­ing pails of milk; the hitch­hik­er. They were the lucky ones - the ones just beyond the sweep­ing arc of pre-­teen arm reach, who avoided being plucked from their glued-­down bases, leav­ing only two gnarled spots of white plas­tic, or occa­sion­ally the stump of a leg.

Instead of a nuclear attack, how­ev­er, it looked more like an alien inva­sion had taken over this minia­ture world. A dozen or so assorted species of net­book were strewn about the land­scape, whether perched atop the moun­tain peaks, or wedged between rows of pines, or loung­ing beneath the sin­gle stop­light sus­pended over Main Street. Each had its black umbil­i­cal power cord and blue net­work cable trail­ing away, like oth­er-­worldly snakes, off-­world and under the table, where a hand­ful of surge-pro­tected power strips had self­-assem­bled, daisy-chain­ing them­selves together to power the invad­ing force.

These lit­tle guys were the source of the inces­sant click­ing and hum­ming, a white noise to which he had not only got­ten used to over the pre­vi­ous eigh­teen months, but had come to require as a fun­da­ment of exis­tence, such that a few months into the project he had installed a small fan in the mas­ter bed­room upstairs, lest he lay awake in the inter­minable silence.

The ther­mal result of all the click­ing and hum­ming, usu­ally an unwel­come by-prod­uct need­ing abate­ment, was embraced, as they took the place of the absent radi­a­tors, con­vert­ing the elec­tric­ity that came in through the new 200-amp patch panel (for which he had to eBay some of his rarer bound tomes to swing, what with the per­mit­ting and all) into a volu­mi­nous heat which, though keep­ing that half of the base­ment at a toasty 78° Fahren­heit, still left his tea cold after an obliv­i­ous twenty min­utes of debug­ging.

He rose from his stool with a creak (the stool, not the man, as he was not yet even fifty) and shuf­fled around the table. Enter­ing the inlet, he was caught for a moment by the hyp­notic twin­kling of the rows of green lights on the steel-blue Linksys twen­ty-­four-­port Fast Eth­er­net switch. It was like gaz­ing into fire; but the fire these lights rep­re­sented would heat up another type of land­scape, warm­ing some, and burn­ing oth­ers - if the embers could be fanned long enough to keep the spark alive until it took.

Regain­ing him­self, he crouched low, if not with a creak then an audi­ble groan, and kneel­ing on the hard floor, stretched for­ward to reach the strips, pow­er­ing each mas­ter switch off in turn.

As the click­ing stopped and the fans spun down (in addi­tion to the lack of charge­able bat­ter­ies in these barely func­tional net­books, half the screens in the fleet were cracked, both byprod­ucts of his fru­gal acqui­si­tion method via eBay), he was sur­prised that imme­di­ately upon ris­ing the ambi­ent tem­per­a­ture felt markedly cool­er, now that his lit­tle com­pan­ions were dead.

Each had, stick­ing out of its side like an awk­ward ves­ti­gial appendage, a thumb dri­ve, again of var­i­ous capac­i­ties and man­u­fac­tur­ers: some brightly col­ored and adorned with adver­tis­ing logos and neat lit­tle metal slide-­away cov­ers, pil­fered from var­i­ous ven­dor con­fer­ence swag bags, while oth­ers sported translu­cent plas­tic neon cov­ers with­out any adorn­ment - the no-­name bulk ones, most likely acquired from Black Fri­day sales at Fry’s.

He searched for the nicest one (the code con­tained within all of them was the same), an orange one with the metal slide cov­er, and pulling it out with a soft thwick, eyed it for a moment, before toss­ing it into the air and catch­ing it. Clos­ing his palm around it as if it were a tal­is­man, he paused, as but­ter­flies sud­denly swelled in his abdomen. His fist began to shake, ever so slight­ly, and he gripped the thing tighter.

It has come too far now. It has a life of its own. It needs to be released. To be freed.

These are the things he said, fight­ing him­self. It was­n’t his deci­sion any­more. The thing worked, in this small world at least. It wanted to be free now; to live or die on its own mer­its.

Regard­less, his feet stood firm, so he tried a dif­fer­ent tack.

It’ll never work. It has no intrin­sic val­ue, there’s no way to boot­strap it. It vio­lates all the laws of how money comes into being. It’s just an exper­i­ment, any­way, and it will fail like all the oth­ers before it. Dig­i­cash. Cyber­cash. E-Gold. Lib­erty Reserve. All road­kill on the high­way to dig­i­tal mon­ey. It’s really just an aca­d­e­mic exer­cise, noth­ing more.

Deep down, he knew bet­ter, but say­ing these things got his feet mov­ing.

Next to his main dev box stood a beast of a machine. It was an old rack­-­mount Com­paq Pro­Liant ML370, picked up at a swap meet for $250, rails still attached. It was a pretty big deal back in the dot-­com boom days, and the 7200 RPM SCSI dri­ves it took were abun­dantly avail­able sec­ond-­hand. He had seven extras to start with, which he could hot-swap to keep the thing up for at least a year or more con­tin­u­ous­ly, and the yel­lowed and aging APC UPS beneath the table, acquired via Craigslist, was also still good for a cou­ple of hours if the local util­ity went bel­ly-up, even if it was orig­i­nally rated for eight.

An old Dymo label maker - the ones that actu­ally press into the heavy plas­tic tape, deform­ing it white into the shape of the let­ters, was used to tag the beast of a machine. The newer label mak­ers, the ones that ther­mally print black let­ters on a thin white tape, just did­n’t have that same sense of grav­i­tas. But this; this looked good. Set dead cen­ter, in all caps, the blue tape announced:


He had lifted the name from the Project Gen­e­sis in Wrath of Khan, a plot line regard­ing an exper­i­ment to ter­raform a bar­ren waste of a planet into some­thing akin to a par­adise. It was a not-­so-­sub­tle hint at the grandiose goals of the project – and what that vision implied about the present state of affairs.

Of course you could also read into it the Bib­li­cal inter­pre­ta­tion (re­leased a few years before Wrath of Khan) which pretty much laid out how this whole ball of wax was willed into exis­tence by the Cre­ator from noth­ing­ness.

Either way you took it, it was pretty ball­sy, and he knew it.

But he was­n’t feel­ing those same cojones now, as his unsteady hand flipped the tiny mag­i­cal boom-­stick across the backs of his fin­gers. Though repeat­ing the mantra of guar­an­teed fail­ure, his body betrayed this act of self­-hyp­no­sis, under­stand­ing clearly where this might all go.

That’s why the bootable OS on the stick, run­ning Win­dows XP, was con­fig­ured with a Tor con­nec­tion in the first place. And why he pub­lished the whitepa­per last Hal­loween under a pseu­do­nym, through an anony­mous Ger­man email ser­vice. If this actu­ally worked, if it scaled prop­er­ly, if - in his end­less nights and week­ends of debug­ging - he had caught all the seri­ous bugs, excep­tions, and edge cases in the pro­to­col, well then…

Perch­ing him­self back on the stool, he real­ized he for­got to fill the coin­base padding, the extra empty bits in the first block, cre­ated to boot­strap the entire chain so min­ing could take over from there. These bits would hold a mes­sage – part artist’s sig­na­ture, part hacker easter egg for those down the line. His orig­i­nal thoughts included quot­ing either Neil Arm­strong, Win­ston Churchill, or even Louis Arm­strong. He had set­tled on The Boss: Bruce, with the line he quoted at the end of each show, way back in the day:

Remem­ber: in the end, nobody wins unless every­one wins.

Now, how­ev­er, he was hav­ing sec­ond thoughts. Despite his ear­lier mea­sures at anonymi­ty, this choice would pretty clearly peg him as an Amer­i­can. Or at least a res­i­dent of the West­ern Hemi­sphere. That was too much to give away…but it was such a good quote.

He sat for a moment, then decided the quote should instead be more like a time­stamp. After all, the whole sys­tem was based in part on a dis­trib­uted time­stamp­ing ser­vice, and he wanted a way to prove the thing was boot­strapped at a par­tic­u­lar time and date - like when some­one doing an AMA on Red­dit posts a selfie hold­ing the cur­rent news­pa­per. A way of prov­ing iden­tity in a trust-­less envi­ron­ment, using a shared “secret”.

Warm­ing up to the idea, he fired up IE7 and searched the news web­sites. Noth­ing too notable jumped out – much about Oba­ma’s upcom­ing inau­gu­ra­tion, debate over who would take the Guan­tanamo pris­on­ers, and var­i­ous other sundry affairs of the day. He was search­ing only the UK news­pa­pers, so the source would match with his diver­sion­ary use of British Eng­lish in his post­ings, and when he reached The Times of Lon­don, he found it: the per­fect quote. It was short and sweet, and embed­ding it would not only be an effec­tive time stamp, but also a time cap­sule of the cur­rent exis­ten­tial ennui wash­ing over the world, and given the unknown future, per­haps an epi­taph for the cur­rent finan­cial sys­tem:

The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chan­cel­lor on brink of sec­ond bailout for banks

A gen­tle mid­dle fin­ger to the cur­rent fail­ing sys­tem the project was designed to upend. He could­n’t help but fore­see the mar­ket­ing value of it, either: they would think some bril­liant hacker came up with this as a response to the cur­rent cri­sis, even though he had started in earnest two years pri­or, a good year before the finan­cial sys­tem buck­led.

They did­n’t have to know this was a mul­ti­fac­eted pro­ject, decades in the envi­sion­ing. They did­n’t have to know most of the ideas and con­cepts were - sev­eral invented decades pri­or, in the sev­en­ties and eight­ies. They did­n’t have to know he was sim­ply a vision­ary plumber, who saw the thing holis­ti­cal­ly, and that the small amount of bril­liance he added was in the way the pipes were fit­ted together so that the water could flow. They did­n’t have to know that he him­self had been wait­ing over a decade for some­one else to do what he saw as sim­ply obvi­ous3, and when nobody stepped up, he finally got off his lazy ass and did some­thing about it. No – he would let them believe in the myth. It would be bet­ter that way.

He slid the stick in his dev box and recom­piled the code with the new mes­sage, then trans­ferred it, with his shak­ing hand, into the USB slot on the Pro­Liant.

Mas­sag­ing his tem­ples, he swiveled away from the work­sta­tion to face the side table. He could­n’t just… do this: it was a moment, and it needed some­thing inspi­ra­tional. A send off; a vir­tual cham­pagne bot­tle strik­ing the bow.

Sit­ting at an angle to the server on the work­bench sat another beast almost as big, but from another age: a McIn­tosh NC2300 ampli­fi­er. He flicked it on, gen­er­at­ing a low buzz as the nee­dles popped and set­tled back on the tiny pegs within their blue square win­dows. While wait­ing for the tubes to warm up, he pulled a ran­dom vinyl record from the stack of a dozen or so lean­ing against it, and remov­ing it from the pro­tec­tive sleeve, smiled while admir­ing it. Bruce would make it into the cer­e­monies, after all. Per­fect.

Mount­ing it on the Nakamichi Dragon that sat atop the old amp, he cued it up with his right hand while hold­ing the index fin­ger of his left on the pres­sure switch of the Pro­Liant. When the sounds of the E Street Band blasted their way out of the Klip­sch mon­i­tors, he pushed the but­ton on the Gen­e­sis machine.

Born to Run.

  1. The pur­loined let­ter! As tan­gled_zans points out:

    Think about it!

    What do we know about Gwern?

    Near-en­cy­clo­pe­diac knowl­edge of Bit­coin, Tor, and Dark­webs.

    Is heav­ily into Japan­ese cul­ture.

    One of the early bit­coin adopters.

    Has done pro­lific research into remain­ing anony­mous . So far we’ve assumed that this was in order to de-anonymyse Satoshi, but what if it was to remain anony­mous him­self?

    But that’s just spec­u­la­tion. Here’s the real proof:

    We know that Gwern has mod­elled his inter­net per­sona based on L, the anony­mous detec­tive from Death Note. In the sto­ry, L’s sole obses­sion was to find out the iden­tity of Kira, the genius ser­ial killer. HOWEVER: Half-way through the sto­ry, Kira mur­ders L, assumes his iden­ti­ty, and con­tin­ues to openly and fer­vently “hunt for Kira” while secretly sab­o­tag­ing the efforts of law-en­force­ment who coop­er­ate with him.

    So if you remove the super­nat­ural crime ele­ment, Death Note becomes a story of an inter­na­tion­ally wanted man, who hides behind the per­sona of the inves­ti­ga­tor in charge of find­ing him­self.

    And the more eagerly he tries, the less likely it is that he him­self becomes the sus­pect!

    Does that sound famil­iar?

    The answer was always hid­ing in plain sight. Nice try, gwern!

  2. A com­menter on #bitcoin rea­soned:

    Odds are Satoshi is an from an Eng­lish-s­peak­ing coun­try. There are 400 mil­lion peo­ple who live in an Eng­lish-s­peak­ing coun­try. I would guess there’s about a 20% chance Satoshi has access to the nearly 1 mil­lion bit­coins he mined. If it takes me 5 min­utes to send a mes­sage threat­en­ing to expose Satoshi, then I can send 12 mes­sages per hour. That means my expected hourly return from send­ing black­mail mes­sages to Eng­lish-s­peak­ing peo­ple is = $3.6/hour.

  3. I dis­agree with Anony­mous here; he remarked on 2010-06-18 that the insight was­n’t that old: “How long have you been work­ing on this design, Satoshi?” “Since 2007. At some point I became con­vinced there was a way to do this with­out any trust required at all and could­n’t resist to keep think­ing about it. Much more of the work was design­ing than cod­ing. For­tu­nate­ly, so far all the issues raised have been things I pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered and planned for.”↩︎