The Sydney home and office of a man “outed” by tech websites as the creator of Bitcoin were raided by Australian police this week.
Bitcoin is a virtual cryptocurrency created in 2009 by - until now - an anonymous mathematician.
The raid in Sydney happened just hours after the websites, Wired and Gizmodo, claimed that Craig Steven Wright, a 44-year old academic, was most likely the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto - the pseudonym used by the creator of Bitcoin.
The use of Bitcoin as a currency is a very interesting phenomenon. Banks are not needed in order to conduct Bitcoin transactions between private individuals and/or entities and therefore no middle man is involved. Transactions can be conducted without using names and there are no fees.
In addition to the benefits of anonymity, international payments are cheap and easy because bitcoins are not connected to any country or subject to any country’s regulations.
Bitcoins are created when people compete to “mine” the currency using computers to solve complex, complicated math puzzles. Presently, it is estimated that a winner is rewarded with 25 bitcoins approximately every 10 minutes.
And up until now, Bitcoin enthusiasts and journalists alike have looked high and low to identify the creator of the virtual currency.
The unrelentless search has resulted in some false leads. Just last year, Newsweek alleged that a 64-year-old Japanese-American man living in the Los Angeles area, Satoshi Nakamoto, was the Bitcoin creator. That claim proved false and Nakamoto sued the magazine for the resulting disruption to his life that he suffered.
And although it is not exactly clear how the technology websites determined Wright’s identity, Australian authorities based their investigation on web archives, documents, and leaked emails - including a supposed transcript of a meeting between Wright and Australian tax officials.
Australian authorities then searched Wright’s properties, but they claim the raids were not about Bitcoin, but rather possible tax evasion.
It is believed that the mysterious Mr. Wright holds about one million Bitcoins, which, at the current exchange rate, are worth about $400 million.
Following the raids, it is reported that Wright claimed, “I did my best to try and hide the fact that I’ve been running Bitcoin since 2009. By the end of this I think half the world is going to bloody know.”