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Cryptocurrency Site's Founder Died Without Leaving His Passwords, and Now Customers Can't Access $190 Million of Their Own Money

KRAKOW, POLAND - 2019/01/24: Bitcoin logo is seen on an android mobile phone. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Cryptocurrencies—or digital forms of alternative currency like Bitcoin—have seen a huge investment spike over the last decade, often to lucrative results.

But there are still huge risks when trading in online money, as investors in Canadian cryptocurrency company QuadrigaCX have learned.


The company's founder, Gerald Cotten, died last year and, with him, all records of the passwords allowing encrypted access to investors' money. As a result, over $190 million remains in internet Limbo, infuriating the company's customers.

In a filing for the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Cotten's widow Jennifer Robertson detailed how Cotten would upload users' currencies to "cold storage" in an effort to protect the funds from theft. Robertson has no access to the password that would grant her the ability to retrieve funds locked in storage.

Robertson has sought the assistance of encryption experts, but so far, no one has been able to crack the code.

Investors are growing uneasy and even irate.

The trouble has stoked the fires in what's been an ongoing debate since cryptocurrency's inception.

Is it the way of the future or do the risks outweigh the potential rewards?

Some don't think so.

Regardless, QuadrigaCX has a long way to go in rebuilding its reputation. It's also dealt a significant blow to cryptocurrencies across the board.