A BRIT is claiming to be the mysterious founder of Bitcoin – the hugely popular cryptocurrency that suddenly appeared in 2008.
The alleged inventor has named himself as James Bilal Caan, an NHS worker with a background in IT, and says he LOST the original hard drive with £8.1billion of "early Bitcoin" on it.
It's the latest twist in the ongoing mystery over who created Bitcoin.
The valuable cryptocurrency was created in 2009 by someone using the fake name Satoshi Nakamoto.
Several people have identified themselves as the founder, include James.
In a series of blog posts published this week, James said that he created the currency – but "lost" the hard drive that can prove it.
This is important: the first coins created – now valued at £8.1billion – can only be controlled by Bitcoin's founder.
Anyone who really owned the coins would be able to move them, verifying their identity.
But James said a case of bad luck when he sent his laptop off for repairs led to his downfall.
"My everything was in that hard drive! It was military-grade encrypted and password-protected," he explains.
"So I was overly confident – to the point of being arrogant – that the techie guys could not have access to my HDD data.
"That’s why I left the HDD inside the laptop and didn’t take it out. The laptop came back by courier a few days later and it contained a new HDD and, of course, the bitcoins weren’t there!"
But James seems to be a highly suspicious character.
The unknown man claims to be of Pakistani origin, but lives in the UK and works for the NHS fixing IT systems.
So it seems odd that he would decide to send his own laptop off for repair – despite being an IT buff.
To make matters more mysterious, James' story of how he got his name is very odd.
He claims to have been born as Bilal Khalid, but changed his name based on Godfather actor James Caan, and also Dragon's Den star James Caan.
"After the creation of Bitcoin and having chosen the alias name of Satoshi Nakamoto...I was watching the movie The Godfather when I saw James Caan," he said.
"It was at that moment I thought, 'I am the godfather of digital cash'."
He continued: "I also saw UK serial entrepreneur James Caan on the BBC series Dragon's Den.
"I realised I could relate to him in that he was an Asian who had also changed his name, which is very uncommon.
"And the Dragon's name reminded me of my mom calling me James and Khan."
James also released an image of "himself", which looks very strange.
The blurry snap has lots of odd artifacts, and the glasses look completely fake.
In fact, they look just like a fake human face generated using AI.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin got you baffled? Here's what you really need to know
- Bitcoin is a virtual currency
- It's traded between people without the help of a bank
- Every transaction is recorded in a public ledger, or 'blockchain'
- Bitcoin is created by mining
- Mining involves solving difficult maths problems using computer processors
- Bitcoin can be traded anonymously, which makes it a popular way of funding illegal activities
- A single Bitcoin is worth just over £8,300 today, but the value fluctuates wildly
- Bitcoin is one of many different cryptocurrencies, but by far the most popular
The actual founder of Bitcoin created the cryptocurrency under the false name Satoshi Nakamoto.
In October 2008, Nakamoto published a paper online describing how the Bitcoin cryptocurrency would work.
And in January 2009, Nakamoto released the first Bitcoin software that launched the network – and the first units of Bitcoin currency.
He claimed to have began writing the code for the system in 2007.
Embedded in the coinbase transaction of the first block was the text: "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks."
This referred to a headline in The Times published on January 3, 2009.
It's believed that this was used not only to date the system, but also to pour scorn on traditional financial systems.
Several people have been identified – or identified themselves – as Nakamoto, but no one has been able to verify it.
One prime suspect was Dorian Nakamoto, a Japanese American computer engineer whose birth name was Satoshi Nakamoto.
However, Dorian strenuously denied any involvement with the project.
A Californian developer named Hal Finney also worked on Bitcoin, and was suspected by some to have produced the service – though this has never been proven.
Australian academic Craig Steven Wright once claimed to have created Bitcoin, but cryptographic evidence he provided wasn't enough to verify him as the founder.
To this day, no one has been able to fully authenticate someone as the inventor of Bitcoin publicly.
We've asked the NHS to verify James' identity and will update this story with any response.
Bizarre moment Bitcoin ATM spews out £20 notes at Bond Street Tube Station
We recently revealed how the global Bitcoin supply is running out, with 85% of all coins now "mined".
In other news, a "Bitcoin city" is being built in Malaysia where people will only be able to use cryptocurrencies.
Earlier this year, more than £100million in digital cash went missing from a dead Bitcoin trader's laptop.
And, Britain’s first "Bitcoin Baby" earned £3,000 in just two weeks thanks to hundreds of crypto-donations in January.
Do you think the mystery of Bitcoin's founder will ever be solved? Let us know in the comments!
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The alleged inventor has named himself as James Bilal […]