Bitcoin: has the currency's inventor finally been found?

Mar 6, 2014

Journalist claims Bitcoin's elusive founder is a 64-year-old father-of-six living near Los Angeles

AN INVESTIGATIVE journalist claims to have tracked down the secretive inventor of the virtual currency Bitcoin.

Writer Leah McGrath Goodman, working with a team of forensic analysts, published her claim in Newsweek, after months of research.

McGrath Goodman's investigations led her to the door of a 64-year-old father-of-six living in a relatively humble house in the San Bernardino foothills near Los Angeles.

The journalist's analysis considered every aspect of the Bitcoin founder's dealings with the outside world, including his correspondence, coding style, and spelling.

The origins of Bitcoin have always been unclear, but in her feature, McGrath Goodman argues that she has located the man who six years ago laid out a plan for "electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust".

That plan was published via a cryptography mailing list and signed "Satoshi Nakamoto". Most assumed the signature was a pseudonym, but Newsweek's investigative journalists tracked down a Japanese-American man born to that name, who later became known as "Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto" according to records filed with the US District Court of Los Angeles in 1973.

McGrath Goodman conducted extensive interviews with Dorian S Nakamoto's family to try to prove her case. But her single brief interview with Nakamoto himself offers nothing concrete. When she confronts him about whether he is the founder of Bitcoin, he replies: "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it... It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection."

Many believe that by now, the founder of Bitcoin must be incredibly rich. Security researcher Sergio Demian Lerner believes that Satoshi Nakamoto could be worth up to $1bn.

Members of the Bitcoin developer community have reacted to the report with scepticism, the Daily Telegraph reports. One commenter on the Newsweek website says that nothing short of an approved payment from the account of Satoshi Nakamoto would be able to conclusively prove his identity: "Unless he can do a signed transaction from an address known to be that of the originator of Bitcoin, then I don't believe, sorry," the commenter wrote.

McGrath Goodman's report is the cover story for the newly re-launched Newsweek magazine which comes out this week.

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