Project Anastasia: Bitcoiners Against Identity Theft [re: Craig Wright Scam]

Today, Andresen fully believes that Wright is Nakamoto. Now he’ll have to convince the rest of the world, because he’s among the only people to have seen what he claims is the best evidence in Wright’s favor. In an interview with WIRED on Monday following flurry of media reports stating that Wright now publicly claims he created Bitcoin, Andresen described in detail a private meeting he had with Wright in London. And he explains why he left that meeting convinced that Wright is the same Nakamoto who unveiled Bitcoin in 2009 and emailed extensively with him in 2010 and 2011. Andresen says his belief is unwavering, despite a bizarre and highly unconvincing blog post Wright published Monday offering the flimsiest evidence that he invented the cryptocurrency—evidence of a very different sort from what Andresen says Wright revealed to him. As Andresen tells it, a firm representing Wright contacted him in March and invited him to London for a private, in-person demonstration designed to prove Wright created Bitcoin. Andresen understandably expressed reluctance.

WIRED and Gizmodo had named Wright in December as a Satoshi Nakamoto candidate based on leaked emails, accounting documents and transcripts. But then gaps in Wright’s story appeared following those reports—including signs he had backdated evidence and misrepresented academic credentials—it seemed Wright was likely pulling an elaborate hoax or con. But Wright followed up with a series of emails that piqued Andresen’s interest. On the morning of April 7, Andresen took a red-eye to London and proceeded directly to a hotel in the Covent Garden district. He met Wright and two associates in a conference room there that afternoon and, Andresen says, Wright performed the cryptographic feat that erased his remaining doubts. Cryptographers have suggested at least two ways the creator of Bitcoin could prove himself: Nakamoto could move some of the earliest Bitcoins, which are known to belong to him and have never been spent in their seven-year existence; or he could use the same cryptographic “private keys” that would allow those coins’ owner to spend them to instead “sign” a message—transforming the message’s data in a way that proves he or she possesses keys that only Nakamoto would have.

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Wright, Andresen says, offered to perform the second test, signing a message of Andresen’s choosing with a key from the first “block” of 50 coins ever claimed by a Bitcoin miner, in this case Nakamoto himself. Andresen says he demanded that the signature be checked on a completely new, clean computer. Andresen says an administrative assistant working with Wright left to buy a computer from a nearby store, and returned with what Andresen describes as a Windows laptop in a “factory-sealed” box. They installed the Bitcoin software Electrum on that machine. For their test, Andresen chose the message “Gavin’s favorite number is eleven.” Wright added his initials, “CSW,” and signed the message on his own computer. Then he put the signed message on a USB stick belonging to Andresen and they transferred it to the new laptop, where Andresen checked the signature. At first, the Electrum software’s verification of the signature mysteriously failed. But then Andresen noticed that they’d accidentally left off Wright’s initials from the message they were testing, and checked again: The signature was valid. Under other circumstances, the Bitcoin community could almost be convinced by Andresen’s account, too.

Andresen, who notes that his own credibility is at stake, too.

But in contrast to Andresen’s private demonstration, the evidence that Wright publicly offered to support his claim almost immediately collapsed. Dan Kaminsky early Monday. On a newly-created website, Wright published a blog post featuring what appeared to be a cryptographically signed statement from the writer Jean-Paul Sartre. It seemed intended to show, as in Andresen’s demonstration, that Wright possessed one of Nakamoto’s private keys. But in fact, Kaminsky and other coders discovered within hours that the signed message wasn’t even the Sartre text, but instead transaction data signed by Nakamoto in 2009 and easily accessed on the public Bitcoin blockchain. Patrick McKenzie, who published an analysis of Wright’s message on Github. Even Kaminsky and McKenzie say they can’t explain the discrepancy between their analysis and Andresen’s story. Andresen, for his part, remains equally mystified by Wright’s highly dubious public evidence. The contradiction between the two accounts is so stark that at first some in the Bitcoin community believed that Andresen’s blog, where he’s vouched for Wright, must have been hacked. He says Wright and his staff wouldn’t let him leave the hotel meeting room with his own much stronger evidence, for fear that Andresen would leak it before Wright was ready to come forward. But Andresen says he can’t understand why Wright didn’t release that information publicly now. He hopes Wright still might. Andresen’s only attempt at an explanation for Wright’s bizarre behavior, he says, is an ambivalence about definitively revealing himself after so many years in hiding. Andresen, who notes that his own credibility is at stake, too. That uncertainty, Andresen says, seemed to be evident in Wright’s manner at the time of their demonstration. Andresen describes Wright as seeming “sad” and “overwhelmed” by the decision to come forward.

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According to Credit Suisse, the storm has the potential to do $125 billion worth of damage – and could even be double that. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Irma’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 155 mph while some fluctuations in strength are likely over the next day or two – but it is expected to stay a category 4 storm. John Freeman, governor of the Turks and Caicos islands, told CNN: ‘Hunker down, stay where you are. Nobody can get to you either. The Turks and Caicos are being pounded by Hurricane Irma, which has made its way through the Caribbean and killed at least 14 in its deadly path to the United States. The powerful category 4 storm made landfall in the British Overseas on Thursday evening and isn’t expected to slow down through Friday morning. Many people on the island (who could not evacuate) were moved to shelters, and any heavily pregnant women or people on dialysis were moved to hospitals.