Bitfunder founder admits faking balance screenshot, lying to investigators about hack

Jon Montroll has plead guilty to perjury charges, obstruction of justice, as well as securities fraud.

In July 28-31, 2013, a hacker managed to steal 6,000 BTC from the central storage wallets of bitcoin-denominated stock exchange BitFunder, and a bitcoin wallet and exchange service called WeExchange—both of which Jon Montroll founded and were to be used in conjunction with each other. While WeExchange survive and continues to operate (despite having lost a lot of its user base), BitFunder was shut down. At the time, the funds were worth $600,000 but would hit around $69 million today.

Despite the incident, Montroll went on promoting the platforms and did not notify the public of the issue, raising an additional 978 BTC. SEC officials launched an investigation after angry users filed complaints, but at the time Montroll denied that the hack was successful, showing investigators screenshots of a wallet balance of 6,679.78 BTC to support his claim that he can reimburse users. The screenshot has been found out to be fake.

In the February indictment, FBI Special Agent Dayna Kendall jotted down several instances where Montroll gave false testimonies while under oath, including saying that he did not know about the hack until November. But online chat transcripts between Montroll, going by the user name “Ukyo,” and an unnamed user—whom he contacted for assistance on the hack,   have proven that Montroll knew about the hack by July 30 at the latest.

“When they went to withdraw, the system stopped them because the amount was obviously causing issues with the system,” Montroll reportedly declared falsely. He even added that the problem “was corrected immediately, whenever the system started having the problems, and I caught on to what was happening I’d say within a few hours.”

Montroll also faces charges for luring in investors with misleading promises of “easy” returns, and continuing to solicit investments and promising daily interests through a security called Ukyo.Loan even after knowing about the hack. He ultimately failed to pay back any WeExchange and BitFunder users, or the Ukyo.Loan investors.

Montroll has plead guilty to the charges and faces two counts of perjury, one count of obstruction of justice, as well as the charge for securities fraud.

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