News & Opinion | June 20, 2018 5:00 am

Inside the Biggest Scandal of the Cryptocurrency World

One couple tried to build a decentralized utopia, but they plunged into a new kind of hell.

Arthur Breitman and Kathleen McCaffrey met in New York in the spring of 2010 and immediately connected, despite vast differences in temperament and background. Arthur Breitman had a background in mathematics, computer science, and economics, and he bought his first bitcoin before hardly anyone had heard of it. The pair married in 2013 and Arthur encouraged Kathleen to learn about more about cryptocurrencies too, so she could hold her own when discussing it with him. But soon the couple soon became obsessed with bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain, and they became convinced it was capable of doing a lot more than just mint digital money, writes Wired. Blockchain was originally designed to supplant banks, but in theory a it could replace any kind of institution, like a social media service or even a credit agency.

That gave the Breitmans a big idea. After research, the couple eventually thought they had the knowledge to use blockchain to build a new currency as part of an entire, decentralized utopia. But their dreams soon came crashing down in a spiral of greed, lawsuits, and paranoia.