Cryptocurrencies are kind of crazy by themselves. They’re digital money that can work as a lot of things (store of value, stocks, payments, remittances, art…) and that nobody owns or controls. However, beyond this fact, there’s a lot of crazy crypto stories lived by different people worldwide. Some of them good, some others bad. But always crazy.
We’re not going to mention here the mystery around Satoshi Nakamoto, the Bitcoin creator, or the traditional Bitcoin Pizza Day. These are widely discussed topics. Instead, we’re going to focus on some non-very known but very interesting cryptocurrency stories. Let’s discover them!
The police officer
Back in 2013, when Bitcoin wasn’t popular at all, nobody could imagine receiving it as a salary. What would they do with a “digital currency” that few or no merchants would accept? Besides, what employer would accept to pay in bitcoins? Most people didn’t even know what was that. Given the case that an employee would ask for BTC, they would straightly refuse, right?
That’s exactly the charm of this crazy crypto story. There’s a small town called Vicco in Kentucky, United States. It was the smallest city in the country outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation (by January 2013), and later that same year would be also known for its Police Chief, Tony Vaughn. He asked for his salary to be paid in bitcoins.
The city commission in Vicco made a research about it first, but, against all odds, they accepted not long after. All his salary started to be converted to bitcoins and automatically transferred to his wallet. Besides, the city also kept Vaughn’s taxes in their own wallet and considered starting a page for BTC donations.
This was probably the first time that a public servant was paid in crypto. The average Police Officer salary in Kentucky is around $54,000 per year, and the Bitcoin price was over $1,000 then. So, any crypto saving that Vaughn kept has revalued by around 5,300% so far. Not bad.
The landfill man
People used to lose their bitcoins. In the beginning, around 2010 and 2012, Bitcoin was barely an obscure Internet currency for developers, gamers, and geeks. Its price was between nothing and a few dollars per coin. So, the owners didn’t pay enough attention to their private keys and hard drives. In so many cases, they lost or forgot them. With amazing amounts inside, by the way.
That is the case of James Howells, a 35-year-old IT engineer from Wales, United Kingdom. He cleaned his house in 2013 and discarded by accident a hard drive more important than he thought. He had two identical hard drives then and threw away the wrong one. Aka, the one that still contains the private keys for a wallet with 7,500 BTC (around $405m at today’s price). Howells discovered his mistake when it was too late, and now the hard drive is somewhere around the city landfill site.
Unluckily for him, the city authorities hadn’t let him check through the landfill in all these years due to “environmental and funding concerns”. This year, not willing to give up, Howells offered them to donate 25% of the bitcoins to create a “COVID Relief Fund”. Besides, he states that he has the support of a hedge fund for the excavation project. The bitcoins keep buried, though.
The treasure on the Everest
In May 2018 the social network Ask.fm was planning to launch its own Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to fund a new platform that’d work with its native token (ASKT) rewards. So, they thought it’d be a great idea to send a group of professional climbers to Everest and bury on the top a Ledger hardware wallet containing 500.000 ASKT. This would be around $100,000 after the ICO, and, above all, a nice crazy crypto story for later.
The climbers went and did it, indeed. They recorded the event and challenged the general public to pick the treasure by their own means, but everything went wrong from there. The Sherpa guide disappeared on the way back, the climbers got hurt and they had to be rescued. Sadly, the guide was never found again. The ICO was never launched at the end, either. So, the coins are still there, lost in the snow and forgotten. Even its value is debatable at this point. But surely they would do a great NFT, right?
Life on Bitcoin
Can you imagine living solely on Bitcoin, without exchanging to fiat at all? You’d have to pay rent, bills, groceries, and everything with bitcoins directly. If you’re going to travel, the flights, hotels, and tours would be paid for with Bitcoin as well. To date, there’s an awful lot of merchants accepting BTC and cryptos as payment, so, the feat is far from impossible. But that wasn’t the case in 2013.
By then, the newly-wed couple Beccy and Austin Craig decided to run a bold experiment: live and travel solely with Bitcoin as a payment method for 90 days. They called it “ Life on Bitcoin “. The journey started from Utah and across the United States, and they also flew overseas to Stockholm, Berlin, and Singapore.
Of course, they had difficulties in those months. The merchants willing to accept bitcoins were very scarce, and they had to offer a 10% premium to their landlord to make them accept bitcoins. But they did it nicely, and, two years later, they launched a documentary to prove this crazy crypto story.
The scammer got scammed
This is the story behind what is, probably, the biggest physical bitcoin attack. And it’s way too crazy. In April 2018, ten Indian cops were accused of kidnapping and extortion by the Surat-based businessman Shailesh Bhatt. He alleged then that the policemen kidnapped his partner, his driver and him, and force him to transfer 200 BTC from his phone to their leader’s wallet. By the time, that was around $2.1m.
The policemen accused were arrested, but there’s a plot twist in this story. As the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of the region discovered later, it seems like Bhatt, the supposed victim, obtained those bitcoins through a fake land deal with the real owner, Somesh Patel. This, additionally, “in the name of a religious sect”.
Besides, Bhatt himself also kidnapped and extorted Dhaval Mavani, the administrator of a Ponzi scheme with bitcoins. He did it to recover his investment, but the amount robbed from him in Bitcoin, Litecoin, and cash ascended to Rs 155 crore (around $21.3m). Bhatt, of course, was arrested too.
Now, if not about this case, we must mention something else about bitcoin thieves to finish the top. Last year, 4 Ukrainian thieves attempted a cash robbery in Dubai. They pretended to exchange bitcoins to attract the victims into an office. Then, they used a deodorant spray as a weapon. Yes, deodorant. And yes, they failed spectacularly.
Originally published at https://blog.alfa.cash on April 21, 2021.