A few months ago I a random call from a CPA named Fox who attended one of my webinars about cryptocurrency taxes. Fox told me a strange story about one of his clients, Mrs Samantha, the owner of an animal farm in rural Missouri. In 2010, she bought some medicines for her animals from a European seller in US dollars. But before they were shipped to the United States, they became illegal to import under US law. Since the vendor was unable to issue a refund i got n USD, he turned to Bitcoin. The amount was estimated at 100,000 BTC, equivalent to $ 1,000 at the time. I was suspicious because of the number of cryptocurrency scams, but I felt curious. Although Fox is an experienced accountant, he has no experience with cryptocurrencies. So, he turned to me to help his client gain access to the accounts. I have been through this kind of problem earlier in my career so I decided to help. I contacted Fox to find out more, and he shared a set of public wallet addresses and xPub keys that he exchanged with Samantha. I connected them to the CoinTracker to investigate their history and found that some addresses were without balances while others contained hundreds of coins. It was very difficult to troubleshoot remotely, for example, when we were trying to reset the password for the Exchange account that a customer claimed had money, the reset email was going to her email that we had no access to. I knew I had to come in person to fix the problem, so I drove 500 miles from Houston to the small town where Fox’s office was located, and as soon as I got there, I immediately started to work. The place was in chaos and Fox’s room was filled with document boxes containing hundreds of private handwritten keys and screenshots of every wallet that Samantha had used over the past 10 years. Samantha had five email accounts that we didn’t know which was linked to the wallet and we were looking for a needle in a haystack. I took back some wallets and scanned around 30 QR codes printed on the paper but no money was found.
I kept trying until 1:30 a.m. to no avail. The next day, Samantha and her husband came to the office expecting some good news, but we did tell them that we weren’t able to make any breakthroughs yet. Samantha seemed worried, so we calmed her down. She was finally able to systematically recreate the chain of events and we gained access to a $ 50 million wallet account. On December 12, 2020 cryptocurrency prices doubled and this was so promising that we doubled our work hours to 24 hours. Unfortunately, however, Samantha had no other information about where the stocks were flowing from or going. Samantha was not an expert in cryptocurrencies. As we scrolled through her emails, we discovered that she spoke to the support staff. She may have accidentally shared her keys during these conversations. She also mentioned that she got help from someone on GitHub to get the money back. So her cryptocurrency holdings may have been hacked on several occasions. The coins are still buried under the rubble of mountains of data online, but so far we have not found any concrete evidence to support Samantha’s claims. This project has been suspended and we will continue searching the data in the hope that we can recover some of her bitcoins.