Cryptocurrency’s Dark Underbelly

Netflix’s 2022 is the year of mystery and deception. Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King is the latest addition to Netflix’s crime-documentary portfolio, following Anna, The Tinder Swindler, and Bad Vegan: Fame, Fraud, Fugitives.

This documentary, directed by Luke Sewell, follows another string of white-collar crime and wealthy victims. Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King tells the story of Gerry Cotten, the CEO of Quadriga CX (a cryptocurrency investment firm) who died mysteriously in India in 2018.

When Bitcoin first became popular, many people profited from their investments as the currency’s value increased. While virtual assets such as cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) tend to pique the interest of a very specific tech market, Bitcoin is more of a stable form of virtual money than a passing fad.

Cotten appears to be a bright-eyed, charming man looking to make his mark in the tech world as the CEO of Quadriga CX. He invested in Bitcoin before it was even considered a viable form of asset. However, Bitcoin has risen from $100 per unit to an eye-watering $27,000 per unit in just a few years, making Cotten and his clients millionaires.

The crash sends Quadriga CX investors into a frenzy as they exchange information about the fate of their investment on message boards. As the investors clamor for their money, Cotten dies in India under suspicious circumstances. He died from septic shock, perforation, and intestinal obstruction.

In the documentary, the circumstances of his death raise several questions and conspiracy theories. Is he really dead? Was he being assassinated? Or did he fake his death and flee to a utopia where he could not be apprehended after undergoing plastic surgery?

Furthermore, the $190 million in Bitcoin appears to have died with him, as Cotten was the only one allegedly in possession of the access codes. This raises investor suspicions that he did not invest their money in Bitcoin at all and that they had no way of getting their money back.

Cotten appears to have been involved in some of the shadier aspects of cryptocurrency. Bitcoin is well-known for its popularity in dark web marketplaces due to its anonymity and lack of regulation surrounding selling and purchasing.

Documentaries about white-collar crime frequently share patterns, and you can often find these facts on Google rather than watching a multi-part series. Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King avoids this pitfall because the story is still unfolding even after Cotten’s death and the bankruptcy of Quadriga CX.

Furthermore, the ambiguity of the circumstances, as well as the legality of cryptocurrency, blurs the line between right and wrong. Taking The Tinder Swindler and Inventing Anna as examples, it was clear who the bad guy was in both stories. It is far less obvious in Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King. Was Cotten a genuine conman, or did the market crash cause people to lose money?

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