A cache of hundreds of thousands of emails leaked from the office of GAW Miners totalling 5.1 GB in size spanning the time period May 2014 through January 2015 detail the lengths Homero Joshua Garza has gone to in order to maintain his fraudulent business activities.
While Qntra has previously published articles specific to Garza himself, this article will focus on the people in the periphery, their communications with Garza and their eagerness to conduct business with him unwittingly or perhaps even choosing to ignore the obvious red flags in order to turn a nice dollar.
While the emails are many, the following selection include people such as Michael J Casey from the Wall St Journal, Stuart Fraser of Cantor Fitzgerald, Marshall Long of FinalHash, Cedric Dahl and Kevin Zhou of Buttercoin, Jonas Borchgrevink of CryptoCoinsNews, Scott Fargo of CryptoCoinsNews and Bitcoinist, Mate Tokay of Bitcoinist, Steve Beauregard of GoCoin and Brian Klein of Baker Marquart and of the failed Bitcoin Foundation.
Michael J Casey & the Wall St Journal
On November 25th 2014, Michael J Casey of the WSJ published an article titled "GAW Miners to Launch Bitcoin Challenger, Paycoin" (archive) which was met with an overwhelming amount of comments critical of the story. Casey was introduced to the GAW Miners story by way of Garza's team at Wise Public Relations. On the 11th of November 2014, Wise Public Relations writes to Garza:
Hi Josh and team,
As discussed, we secured an additional meeting for you while you are in NY on Wed. WSJ's Michael Casey writes a lot about BitCoin and crypto currency in general and we are pleased that he's on the schedule. We are still trying to solidify timing with the BBC. Outreach continues next week.
Included in the email is a link (archive) which outlined Garza's much talked about New York tour which occurred last year. That tour included an hour long meeting with Jose Pagliery of CNNMoney, Michael Casey of the WSJ, Ruth Reader of Venturebeat and Andrew Nusca of Fortune respectively.
Given Casey had read claims that GAW Miners was indeed a scam, a call between himself and Stuart Fraser of Cantor Fitzgerald was organised to assist with what Casey calls "due diligence." This was discussed at length between GAW staff:
Good Morning and Happy Friday!
For today's conference call between Stuart and Michael do you want Harrison to sit in?
I can provide a bridge for everyone to call into:
Phone Number: ***
Conference ID: ***
Or we can have everyone conference in to Stuart's home office number: ***-***-****
With that telephone call putting Casey off guard, he proceeds to publish his article yet is somewhat shocked by the avalanche of negative comments it attracts. He writes to Garza:
Josh, I’m really quite stunned by the comments that have poured into the story. It is elephant in the room that demands a follow-up story. We are now compelled to address the charges that GAW is a fraudulent operation.
I had seen claims that GAW was a scam on Reddit and elsewhere, but I see such claims throughout the mining and altcoin industries, legitimate or otherwise — it is, as you say, germane to the bitcoin community. So didn’t deep much deeper. I now regret that, and if you were aware of those charges against you I think it would have behooved you to have gotten ahead of such claims by laying them all out in the first place and then providing irrefutable proof to shoot them down. Now, we’re both doing repair work.
I did follow-up with some of your business associates and looked into your past dealings, checked out the hashcoin white paper, and felt confident that you had a big operation underway. But now with these overwhelming responses (from a group that might well be just disgruntled traders), I need to do a significant amount more work, specifically related to proof of the mining operation, its size and the capacity to consistently pay out ROI based on actual mined coins, as well as into the handling of the hashtalk.org forum.
So I’ll need your cooperation in responding to some of these charges and to the various questions that I’ll have as follow-ups. (I’ll get back to you with those shortly.) You can see this as a chance to put to bed once and for all these serious allegations against you.
Garza responds to Casey:
There are no charges, but the opinions of the same people over and over.
As I told you on the phone, it's the same few dozen people doing this over and over again. Additionally, we confirmed a while back that the majority have been hired by competitors. That's that happens in this industry when you take customers from other companies.
Honestly, I am just as surprised by this email. The same way you mention proof, every troll that makes these allegations has none. It's the same story over and over.
"I think gaw is doing bad things" "what's your proof" "well there is none, I just think that are"
To add to that, we recently broke 200k customers. If 1% of our customers did not like us, it would be 4 times the amount of complainers we have. These guys are just loud.
I am happy to answer any questions you have.
Casey responds with 11 questions:
OK folks, so I need responses in general to the allegations that you’re by now well aware of. And to the extent to which there is more solid proof, rather than simply a denial, that will be better. It will make it seem less like you’re being evasive and giving fodder to your critics who say it’s a scam.
I’m not a position either way on behalf of any of these criticisms. And it seems to me that part of the problem is that the bitcoin community is full of some very passionate and inherently mistrusting people. They are also going to be especially suspicious of any operation that is perceived to be centralized, run by a for-profit corporation, even though, as you argue, that may be the only approach that will bring cryptocurrency into the mainstream. But with the barrage of comments attached to my article and the emails I received, it is now impossible for us to not at least write about the claims against you.
Before we met I’d seen such claims on Reddit and thought it as part of the usual trolling that occurs within bitcoin land and typical of all the loosely defined “pump and dump” allegations that are leveled at pretty much every altcoin or the claims of fraud place on all mining service providers. Also, I did some due diligence on you guys and you were very helpful and constructive in that regard, including the interview with Stuart. That was a constructive approach and it gave me confidence. So, I felt that although I can’t back up your numbers you clearly have a solid track record and sound business associates, so I was happy to run with the article.
Sadly, though – rightly or wrongly — the response to it changes the calculus, both for me and for you. (The fact that you’d broadcast that there would be a story in WSJ and then openly discussed how and when it might run didn’t help, by the way. It puts me in an awkward position. Word to wise: don’t do that again with us or any other news organization. It can only make life difficult for you.) I now need to do a follow-up to acknowledge that these concerns exist. We want to get this out today.
So, here are the questions, most of which I’m sure you’ve encountered before.
1. The big one: That this is a Ponzi scheme. What can you provide to show that there are actual coins being mined and payments being made from them? Are there mining addresses you can reveal that show significant bitcoin mining activity to match the claim that you account for 50% of new online mining capacity? (Or 90% of Litcoin?)
2. What’s the breakdown for that 50% claim? Over what time frame? Is that for BTC only or BTC , Litcoin etc.
3. Are there other details that you can provide to verify the size of your Mississippi operation? An address that allows us to search it on Google Earth and street view, for eg.. (Also any very recent photos of the inside of the plant and mining rig racks.)?
4. Why Mississippi? How do you maintain a low-cost operation in a state that averages max temperatures year-round of about 75 degrees?
5. I take it that some of the payments on a hashlet that a customer receives comes from trading revenues and some from a pool of assets that Gaw mines, in addition to direct mining revenue. Can you break out those flows for me? Is there an average across all clients?
6. And if, as various observers say, it’s extremely difficult for someone to break even on any cloud mining contract given the struggle to keep up with rising difficulty, low prices, etc., then isn’t it the case that eventually there will be a pool of misfortunate hashlet traders left holding the bag? How do explain that there are perpetual gains to be had from owning and trading hashlets over time? How do you keep the supply of hashing power up?
7. Related to that prior question: A static cloud mining contract is a depreciating asset by definition, so long as the BTC price is flat or falling. How is a hashlet different from that? How can I claim that it has upside value? Is this because of the capacity to “amp it?” But if so, isn’t the cost of doing so going to rolled into the price as well?
8. Most importantly, if trading and/or investments in a pool of assets is part of the business model, is it regulated by the SEC? Do your lawyers believe it doesn’t need to be? Are you seeking regulation? Where does that stand?
9. Critics have described the hashpoint program for pre-ordering hashcoin/paycoin as a scheme to cover for the fact that payouts on hashlets started to decline early in the fall as difficulty rates rose. What’s your answer to that?
10. In general, there’s a view that all cloud mining needs to be far more transparent. That fund flows could and should be provably posted on a blockchain-based system. What do you say to that?
11. Critics say the Hashtalk forum is aggressively moderated, with dissenters barred and their comments removed. What’s your response to that? The same critics also say that you pay supporters. Response?
Garza responds by largely ignoring all the questions asked by Casey and provides his own proof by way of signing a message from the Bitcoin address 18Yrkm5cRqT1MiqwAUBDcN64hWb1pLutsW and attaching a copy of the lease for a warehouse located at 117 Central Industrial Park Purvis, MS 39465. Also emailed to Casey are links to images allegedly of the warehouse where GAW Miners conduct mining operations but as these images are no longer available, it's difficult to verify what the images displayed.
Casey follows up his original article with another titled "BitBeat: Under Fire, GAW Miners’ CEO Garza Takes on His Critics" (archive) to which Garza tells a friend that the WSJ told a very different story to the one he told Casey.
Hey John, if you cam swing a couple of days here each week, we can work with that. Many of the staff is remote.
I agree with you on the wsj. They told a very different story then we told.
We are under a lot of first because of our size and we do things differently. This industry does not like different.
As far as what we need. We need a focus on branding and PR. Would be fun to work together.
Lastly, check out our coin we launched a few days ago
Contacted for comment, the WSJ provided Qntra with a token response:
I handle the Communications for The Wall Street Journal, and I wanted to reach out in response to your earlier email to WSJ's Michael Casey. While the Journal largely doesn't discuss the details of our newsgathering, suffice it to say that journalist Michael Casey's thorough reporting on this topic isn't fully reflected in the email exchange you reference.
Stuart Fraser of Cantor Fitzgerald
Text messages and emails between Garza and Stuart Fraser reveal a friendship dating back an unknown number of years. Seeing him as the father he never had, Garza texts Fraser:
Just wanted to thank you for all your have done. Much of who I have become today is because of you. I did not have much of a father growing up, and you have very much been that for me throughout much of my life. Love you buddy, josh
More than love, Garza comes across as desperate for the admiration and respect of his mentor. Not only does Garza buy Fraser a car for Christmas, but the two have financial dealings which see Garza selling a 41% share of his operation to Fraser as well as organising various loans.
Discussing one of their deals, Garza writes to Stuart and includes a document detailing his investment in GAW Miners:
Take a look at this when you get a chance, I would like to get things cleaned up between us.
Like I mentioned, my goal is to get the 200k loan paid to you by July 4th. And the 210k loan to Scott by July 18th.
While there is still time on both loans, I would like to get them cleared up.
Regarding the deal between us. If you remember our original agreement was 240k over a 24 months period to be equal partners on any "new venters" in the same time period.
90k of the 240k has been paid to me, I have shown that in the table in the spreadsheet. Leaving a balance of 150k owed to me.
I have invested 85k of my cash in to GAW Miners to date. Our records show you have invested 135k (outside of the 400k in loans being paid back to you). Please let me know if you have a different amount.
That would make a 50k difference in our equity investment (in your favor). We can handle this one of two ways. Either I can have the company send back 50k to you, this would equalize our investment at 85k.
Or, you can send me 50k of the 150k balance to me (reducing your balance to me to 100k) and I will invest that in to GAW Miners to match your investment of 135k.
Either is fine with me, let me know what you want to do.
Naturally, depending on the outcome, we need then need to clean up the balance still owed to me. I would like to either continue the 10k a month payments, or handle it in some other way.
Our equity of GAW Miners would stand at 41% each. Leaving 18% to be used to raise additional money, employees, etc.
Let me know if I missed anything, I would like to get this behind us
Discussing money that Garza alleged Stuart Fraser needed to keep out of sight, he writes to his staff members Juliette Dunlevy and Dan Pease:
Stuart needed to keep money “out of sight” a few weeks ago, so he borrowed it from me.
Because of that, he is not in a position to move any money around for a few months.
As such, he has asked that the company pay me back, and he will pay back the company in a few months. The amount is 150k.
Please characterize it as a loan to him.
Thank you for your attention and discretion. And yes, even millionaires borrow money from each other
Lamenting the sale of almost half of GAW Miners to Stuart Fraser, Garza writes:
I was thinking after our call.
We should figure out how we want to handle things between us going forward, for not other reason so that we are on the same page. We dont really ever talk about it, but we should, its has not be revised for years.
I think its important that we figure how we want to handle things as new things have been developed (some with your investment, and some without) And it will become confusing if we dont sort it out now. LIke you said, money changes everything.
I propose a simple solution, we split every system and company in half. I am both aware of the value of all you have invested in the past to get us here. As well as the value of the systems and companies (GAW Labs and VP) I have built. In its current course (even without Dan), GAW Labs will have over 3m in contracts by the end of the year.
The exception would be GAW HSI, which would you would own 80% of. I dont feel right about splitting GAW because of what you have invested. But I will continue to grow its value.
Going foard, here is what I am thinking, we will create a equal partnership (50/50) in our holding company "Geniuses At Work Corporation", you can have the voting power (I dont care). I will put in everything I have built:
– My equity stake in CP
– Any patents Joe or I create
– My entire voice platform
– The new App system (the one we talked about at Mt snow)
– GAW Labs
– Joe deal (I know you probably figure this is assumed, but the equity in GAW Labs (voice system) is how we are doing the deal)
In other words, I would split every deal and every system I have developed with you.
Here is what I would like:
– 10k per month investment paid to Geniuses at Work Corporation for 24 months (to pay myself with). I have coninued to lower my salary over the last few years (not complaining about)
– Forgive the hillcrest debt (around 230k)
– Allow me to live down the investment you made in GAW in the past. I feel so bad every time its brought up. I will still/always continue to try and recoup your losses.
– The 150k that you have already agreed to, per the term sheet we reviewed at your house. But I would like for this to only be a "*one time*" infusion. On other words, its *not* perpetual, and there is *no* exsepction of farther investment
– Help with Howard on CP
Hope you feel these are fair and reasonable terms. They are meant to be a starting point of a discussion. I think its important that we clear this up and move forward.
I am sure you get tired of hearing it. But I can never thank you enough for all you have done and continue to do. I am proud of everything we have done this year. GAW HSI, Smart-Tech, and GAW Labs are all cash flow positive. And we could have not gotten here without your support.
I cant tell you how important it was for me to feel like I could "do it"!
Garza gets no response from Fraser, so he emails him again and again. Finally, Garza relents and wishes to continue with the original deal he made with Fraser to which Fraser says thanks. Garza writes:
I thought a lot about it.
Obviously I never thought when I made the deal that I would end up giving up half a company this successful. But, like you said, it could have gone either way. And one of the many things you taught me was to always honor your deals, the good and bad ones.
Yes I have worked hard to build this company, but I would not here where I am today without you. No question in my mind.
So in light of all that, let's finish the deal as planned. You can pay out the rest of the cash to me, and I will issue you the 41% you deserve. If it's cool with you, let's keep each of us at 41% so there is equity avaliable for investors.
Marshall Long of FinalHash
Text messages and emails between Garza and Marshall Long of FinalHash reveal a blossoming friendship which began with the assistance for the purchase of scrypt mining hardware from Marc Coumans now bankrupt (archive) Mining ASICs Technologies through to Garza's sponsorship of the Hasher's United conference held in Las Vegas last year. The relationship appears to have become strained once Garza pushed forward with his Paycoin endeavour. Long told Qntra that he provided Garza with input on his development team for Paycoin as well as proofreading the Paycoin white paper. Long comments:
FinalHash as an entity consults with somehwere around 75 to 85% of the Bitcoin industry however, as a company or individually we did not have any development involvement on paycoin project merely due to other obligations, the primary of which was time conflicts. As relates to any, involvement I can say that I proofread the white paper and gave my input on it to their Development team, which is standard practice when seeking an outside opinion on the structural integrity of a coin. FinalHash has done this also with many other coins, as a service. So this is nothing out of the ordinary.
Despite that response, emails reveal that not only did Long at one point consider developing the coin for Garza but Long also provided Garza with additional advice when Paycoin ran into problems. Attempting to win Garza's business, Long writes to Garza regarding the coin project that would soon become known as Paycoin:
If we are doing this let me know. I need to book flights and rooms. I need your companies address Best airport to use.
Regarding the cost to develop the coin, Long writes to Garza:
And we need to work out the cost structure.
You would be responsible for the following.
Travel and accommodation for just me.
My hourly consultation rate of $150 per hour
And then if we decide to roll on the coin then we will just eat the cost of my time and charge for the build out of the following
* Wallet QT (windows and OSX) and coind
* Source Code
* Wallet compilation
* Paper Wallet Generator
* Android App (if we don¹t do POS)(if we want to make one with POS it will be a shit ton of work but we can do it)
* Merge mining capabilities
* And other necessities along the way
All in total cost would be $25,000 plus 2.5% of the coins.
Do you confirm?
And while Garza did not pursue Long's offer to develop Paycoin, Garza often emailed him for advice and support with Paycoin's development, complaining that he was not getting what he paid for and refused to pay anything further. Attempting to defuse the situation, Long told Garza that he won't pick sides and that Brad's crew, which is the team developing Paycoin is "renowned in the community". The emails make clear that whoever Brad is, he came at the recommendation of Long.
When Paycoin inevitably forks hours after launch, Garza runs to Long for advice. Long responds:
Here is the reality. The coin forked.. They are working on it now. I've not had time to pin point blame. My intuition tells me it is with your pool set up… But is just an educated guess because several peers were getting consensus and not u. Brads team is the tits.. But when he is on a hangout with everyone yelling and talking about how big pay coin is instead of focusing it is hard to get shit done. I'm in the Dev Skype now and they are progressing it seems
As Paycoin begins to crash and burn, Long shares his concerns of going to jail, tells Garza that he needs to turn down the volume on his life and that Garza should be careful because the "SEC is goin hard". As a headsup, Long tells Garza that there is bad news to come about him on January 5th and hints that Garza needed to get his money services business licence square ASAP.
Contacted for comment, Marshall Long provided Qntra with this statement.
As it relates to Jail, I was speaking "off the rip" so to speak, and any references to do with jail was merely in reference to the $20 floor, and other statements, Mr. Garza had made in reference to Paycoin's overall business model. Since I was in disagreement with him, I told him what was on my mind and stated, that promising such things so publicly could be suicide for him if the coin, were to crash. This seemed like a bad a idea at the time for him, and I stand by that opinion.
Cedric Dahl and Kevin Zhou of Buttercoin
In December of 2014, Garza made a deposit of bitcoin to the now defunct Buttercoin at which time Buttercoin CEO Cedric Dahl reached out to Garza to better assist him. Dahl writes to Garza:
Hi Josh, I'm Buttercoin's CEO, wanted to reach out and say hi.
I noticed you recently added 90+ bitcoin to Buttercoin. Is your goal to trade or are you looking to sell the bitcoin you added on Buttercoin?
If you'd like to sell large blocks of bitcoin (over 25 at a time) we can get you the best price by doing a block trade off market.
For block trades we can buy or sell up to $1MM at a time and pay out same day (funds should land in your account same day / next business day) just send Kevin Zhou (on cc) a note, he runs Buttercoin's trading desk and has cleared millions of dollars via block trades, he'll take great care of you.
Garza responds to Dahl by informing him that it's his intention to soon make a purchase of bitcoin via Buttercoin and Joe Mordica follows that up by telling Dahl they wish to purchase 500k worth of bitcoin ASAP. Kevin Zhou responds:
It's great to e-meet you guys. First thing would be to have you guys fill out KYB form at kyb.buttercoin.com. Our compliance desk will then have a look and either ask for more information or greenlight the onboarding.
Once that's all set (should be very quick), we can do our first OTC trade. I usually coordinate these trades over Skype at kevinz.buttercoin. When you have a block to trade, you can ask me for a quote and I will either show you one from my own book or find other counterparties in my OTC network to make you a quote if my inventory cannot take the whole block.
If you guys have any questions about the logistics or anything else in general, feel free to ping me on Skype at kevinz.buttercoin or give me a call at 510.493.6574. Looking forward to trading with you guys.
With the new relationship with Buttercoin in place and compliance and KYB requirements met, Garza ups the amount he intends to wire to Buttercoin from 500k to 750k. Buttercoin provide the following payment details:
Pleasure to e-meet you and the rest of the team. Our wire details are below, please let me know if you have any questions and I'd be happy to help.
Mandelbrot Ventures LLC
777 High Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Account #: 101755023
55 Almaden Blvd, Suite 100, San Jose, CA 95113
Routing #: 121143260
Amid this discussion, Garza attempts to bring Buttercoin on board to handle payments from customers wishing to purchase Paycoin with dollars. Garza's email to Buttercoin reads:
Thanks for getting this done for us.
I wanted to email regarding a different subject. As it turns out, we see inthe middle of launching a payment gateway for our new coin (paycoin)
At launch, customer will be able to purchase paycoin with btc. We intend toadd the ability for those customers to purchase with fiat. We are currently integrating with an outside company to do this for us, so we do not need to deal with money transmission.
The idea is that when someone guys to paybase and chooses to buy paycoin with fiat, we would call out to their platform, the customer would then purchase through them, then we would ledger their account.
I did not learn about you guys until this week. So we did not consider discussion with you guys.
Is this something you would be interested in talking about?
Dahl responds to Garza but appears to have misunderstood what it was Garza was seeking. Dahl offers his assistance to Garza so that his customers may purchase bitcoin via Buttercoin. Garza reiterates his proposal by asking Dahl again if there is the possibility that Buttercoin can assist with fiat paying customers. Garza writes:
So there could be a scenario where our customers could attempt to buy XPY with FIAT, which we would then call out to your for to make the purchase to BTC, then we would transfer for the customer to XPY
Yes, that scenario can work, Bennett can tell you more in your call, Tani will help coordinate.
As the discussion of an integration of Paycoin/Paybase with Buttercoin moves to Skype and Google Hangouts, Kevin Zhou contacts Garza, Jonah Dorman and Dan Pease with the offer of a trade for 2321 BTC at a price of $323 per BTC for the 750k which was earlier deposited by wire. Confirming the trade by sending a test amount first, the remaining coins are sent to address 3MTdedCnsAaZSvRDPJSMbMPzFmq6v3SSZh by way of transaction ff586d30b34a35ae82cd6da45cd5b47259e6778b8022840f8608ba4023203163.
Nothing appears to have come of the GAW Miners/Buttercoin integration talks and since that time, Buttercoin has ceased trading as of the 10th of April 2015.
Jonas Borchgrevink AKA David Parker and Scott Fargo of CryptoCoinsNews
Correspondence between Jonas Borchgrevink and Garza detail repeated attempts by Garza to purchase equity in the payola based bitcoin news site amid Garza's constant need to preview articles, have them edited or pulled on demand while liaising with other CCN authors such as Scott Fargo.
Emails dating back to August of 2014 show Borchgrevink congratulating Garza on his purchase of BTC.com. As a failed bidder on the domain, Borchgrevink opened an invitation to Garza for a partnership with CCN and the newly acquire BTC.com domain name to which Garza shows interest. Garza writes:
Hi David, thanks for the email.
I would be interested in discussing further. So can be thinking about it too, what kind of partnership are you thinking?
Well, I'm open for almost anything. Just established a partnership with CoinWarz now (they have our news ticker exclusively in the top bar).
I want to grow CCN to become the biggest news outlet for cryptocurrencies. So any featuring of our articles through a ticker, rss feed or similar, is ideal. We can provide other content as well. I can then give you free ad spaces on CCN, or feature neutral services.
If you got any ideas, you are most welcomed to throw them out there.
Garza responds by querying Borchgrevink on an equity based partnership to which Borchgrevink responds by detailing CCN's revenue and profits. Claiming annualised sales of USD 400k of which 200k is profit, Borchgrevink prompts Garza for a few different proposals. Garza obliges:
Given what I know so far, I would rate the risk from our perspective medium.
It will take a large investment to compete for some of the highest spots on the search engines. As you know, the last mile is the hardest to get. In addition, we will need some higher caliber writers, development, etc. Anyways, all stuff you know
On the upside, you have built something pretty amazing in a short amount of time. And I think that with the right investment and partners, we could get this thing pretty big.
Just letting you know the things I am considering…..
I would need to run it by my board, but I would consider an offer to the tune of 100k in cash, 200k in Class A stock, and a seat on the corporate board.
The stock is the only thing they may have an issue with, as our stock has grown 20X in the last few months as our revenues have continue to increase.
We were just made a 70mm cash offer (around 1X annualized sales) that I refused. We can get this thing much bigger
Naturally, I will make all the marketing and development resource investments. Leverage BTC.com and our own brand.
Let me know your thoughts. I have done many deals, and have a reputation of being overly generous. I have plenty of companies we have merged with that you can talk to if you wish.
Borchgrevink responds by telling Garza he won't take anything less than USD $1.5 million on the basis he believes he sets the agenda for Bitcoin each day and leverages a soon to occur meeting with Jon Matonis in Budapest as an example of this ability. For now, the idea of selling equity in CCN to Garza is shelved in favour of Borchgrevink taking a "crack at CoinDesk."
In November 2014, Garza once again brings up the possibility of acquiring equity in CCN, telling Borchgrevink it's the "last chance." Borchgrevink responds by telling Garza:
Would like that, but as said, I need an offer that I will actually consider.
I got now 2 full time editors, so the workload of CCN for any new owner is almost nothing. Anything near 1.5 is something I would consider.
Or we can do a partnership where we work on some topics or specific fields together, without sharing/selling equity.
btw: still growing on Alexa:http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/cryptocoinsnews.com#trafficstats
Contained within the email leak are details of payments made by Garza to Borchgrevink for what are presumed to be for the large amount of GAW Miners advertisements plastered across CCN last year. Borchgrevink accepted some of those payments in USD instead of BTC. Replying to Rami Abramov of GAW Miners as to where a wire can be sent, Borchgrevink replied:
IBAN: NO** **** ***
Bank: DNB https://www.dnb.no
Name of the Account: Jonas Borchgrevink
Address: ********* ** **** Oslo, Norway
Let me know if you need anything else.
Unsure if other payments to Borchgrevink have been issued, Garza questions staff member Gary Dionne as to whether a sizeable wire to Borchgrevink has been sent:
We did wire $13,312.00 to Jonas Borchgrevink in Oslo, Norway for 1 month of advertising in Cryptocoinnews.com. Request came from Rami as part of his $150k December budget.
Is this the wire you're referring to?
Correspondence between Scott Fargo and Garza paints the picture of a one sided relationship where Fargo was in constant contact with Garza but Garza only appears to have responded when he needed something done. Fargo shared his fears and tears with Garza, concerned that his own safety as well as Garza's was under threat by authors at CoinFire as well as Qntra. Fargo encouraged Garza to beware while in attendance at the Bitcoin Miami conference held earlier this year. Fargo writes:
there are several like Cazzall and the coinfire guy who actually make me worried about yours and my safty in Miami
cazalla I think I spelled it right
Fargo also accepted bitcoin from Garza with one such payment totalling 1 BTC being sent by Garza to Fargo as a gift to mark his 5th wedding anniversary. Fargo, oblivious to an obvious conflict of interest graciously accepts the payment. Garza writes:
whats your wallet address?
Hi Josh Here is my address. If you have a statement you want to add I will out it in.
I hope you're having a great weekend,
Garza would often contact Fargo to inform him of GAW Miner related news with the emails repeatedly showing that Garza requested previews and changes with Fargo always happy to oblige. For example, Garza forwarded Fargo the infamous pictures of him inside a warehouse. Fargo responds:
I can use these for the interview.
That is a huge building too. You will need your own nuclear power plant for it. LOL
Thanks Josh I'm on this.
Naturally, let me know before anything goes out
Another example of Garza prompting Fargo to write a story on Hashlets:
Can you ran a piece tonight?
Pricing is $1.60 pr GH
What time do you want it to go live?
This is going to hit the market running and is much wanted by your customers.
Do you also want to include a statement about it for the article?
I am looking forward to these as well. I will save up to buy some so I can write about them too.
But other requests for gifts by Fargo often went ignored:
How do I get a Scott@btc.com address too??
Great stuff I smiled when I say that.
I am looking forward to being part of it if you were serious. I will do what I can.
As did a request for advice:
Josh do you know where to stay in Miami? I dont want to be apart from everyone there. Mate is staying somewhere else. I am nervous to be honest about going there.
When Andrew Vegetabile of the Litecoin Foundation challenged Garza to a public debate at the Miami Bitcoin Conference, it would appear it was Fargo who drafted the response to Vegetabile on behalf of Garza. Fargo writes to Garza:
Here is the writeup I did if it is even needed. Check it over and let me know what you think. It is a draft and goes no further unless it is needed and you give the ok.
Garza approves of the draft and thanks Fargo. Fargo replies:
I listen to what you say and your passion for this industry shows and I always want to have that show.
Thank you again,
Clearly depressed at the feedback his articles have been generating, Fargo writes to Garza:
man the trolls are nasty instead of real dialogue I get called a crippled druggie by cazalla and other coinfire mouthpieces it has been a shit storm.
Fargo is now a contributor to Inside Bitcoins as well as Bitcoinist, a site Garza attempted to purchase.
Contacted for comment, Fargo provided Qntra answers to the following questions.
1) You took payment from Garza totalling 1 BTC as a wedding anniversary present. This transaction can be seen at https://blockchain.info/tx/80106dcb21b28539a1e08a73e233bd263a94869c44fa7307ae547d3ae46fd6f1
Question – In accepting this gift, is that not a conflict of interest? If not, can you provide me your reasoning as to why you believe otherwise?
At the time I was not thinking of it as a conflict. I thought he was being friendly. I considered him a friend. I obviously do not any longer. It was literally two weeks after I had just had my second surgery in 6 weeks. It was a mistake by the time I realized it it was too late.
2) On what basis did you have fears for your safety and Josh's at the BTC Miami conference. Your email cites me as a threat by name yet I have never met either of you let alone visited America nor did I have any intention of attending that or any other conference.
I had been told you were a threat by people in the forums. I had no idea where you live or about you attending. The same had been said of Mike which I found later to be untrue. Rumors on all sides were swirling. Knowing what I know now I know you guys were not threats.
3) In hindsight, would you agree you were an unwitting and naive accomplice and used by Garza to promote his scams?
I feel blind and stupid for falling for this. So many of us were sucked into what seemed to be a good thing. I got too close thinking he was a friend and working for the community. He had a good relationship with the owner of CCN who was my mentor. I wrote about the info I had at the time. If I had access to all the info I would not have reported as I did.
I do apologize to the community as this was not intentional. I was duped along with so many others. Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies are my passion and all I want is to help people be part of it.
Mate Tokay of Bitcoinist
In October of 2014, Garza began to move towards acquiring the Bitcoin news site Bitcoinist but despite lengthy discussions, the deal was never finalised. In discussions about the cost of the acquisition, Mate Tokay explains to Garza he wants 120k USD upfront with an additional 80k USD paid over six months and 250k in GAW Miners stock. To these terms Garza agrees and has David McLain draft a letter of intent to acquire Bitcoinist. Included in the LOI is a section by which Tokay would become an employee of GAW Miners.
While Tokay is reviewing the LOI, Garza seizes the opportunity to have Bitcoinist promote his business. Garza writes to Tokay:
How goes it? Let me know if you have any questions on the LOI. I would love to get this done, excited about working with you.
We are announcing our new coin Fri, I am assuming you guys would want to run a story
Also, can you run a story on this today? https://hashtalk.org/topic/14772/cool-news-from-authy-more-traffic-then-cex-and-coinbase/2
Thanks for the message:) All good here. I tried to call you yesterday but only reached your voice mail. The LOI looks pretty standard so far.
I am also excited about working with you and this is actually why i wanted to give you a call to talk about a few details regarding the management. When are you available for a call?
Yes, we would like to run a story. Please e-mail me your PR manager so we can reach out to him/her for both of those stories.
p.s.: congrats on the traffic!
Tokay returns Garza a signed copy of the LOI and an Asset Purchase Agreement is drafted. Tokay asks David McLain as to when he can expect the $1000 deposit as per the LOI. He writes:
Our lawyers are looking at the agreement now. You should receive our comments by next Monday the latest. Mr. Gyorgy Feher and Ms. Judit Sos from PRK Partners will contact you.
As for the LOI, when can we expect to receive the $1.000 deposit?
Here are the wire informations:
Bank transfer informations:
Bank Name and address:
Thanks a lot.
Garza ensures the $1000 wire is paid promptly and Gary Dionne confirms with Garza that it was sent on the 14th of November 2015. On the 21st of that same month, Tokay's attorneys suggest a list of additions to the purchase agreement which include an employment agreement with an obligation that GAW Miners assist Tokay in obtaining a green card, provide put options which would allow Bitcoinist to put or sell up to 75% of the equity GAW Miners is giving them, a request that the signing of the agreement and closing would occur simultaneously and finally, acknowledge that Bitcoinist has no agreement in place with the individuals who have previously provided content in relation to the assets to continue to providing similar or any content in the future.
Come the 27th, Tokay has yet to hear back from Garza. In an email, Tokay discloses to Garza that he stopped negotiating with CEX1 and he wishes to speed the deal up. Tokay writes:
We have not heard from David for a while…
When can we expect your / his comments on the contract?
After your LOI we have let CEX know that we have another option and stopped the negotiating process as we would like take your deal, but they just wrote us again that they don’t want to loose this deal !
You wanted a fast closing, and so do we.
How can we speed up this process?
Tokay follows his email up with a text message:
This is Mate from Bitcoinist! I tried to reach you…Could you call me back please?
Is everything ok?
Moving forward to December 2014, the discussion turns back to the employment agreement between Tokay and GAW Miners to which Garza asks Tokay what he would like to see. David McLain informs Amber Messer on the 9th of December 2014 that they are still awaiting the desired employment terms from Tokay. McLain writes to Messer:
Yes, they responded to our response and sent back information regarding the assets associated with the deal. Here are the next steps:
1. I sent Jonah the info on the assets to confirm/perform due diligence. 2. They are supposed to be sending us proposed employment terms for Mate Tokay. 3. They would like the Agreement to be signed and deal closed simultaneously (which means we need to have completed our due diligence on the assets and be prepared to pay them before we sign)
On the 19th of December 2014, Tokay provides Garza with the required parameters of his employment including a two year contract, $20,000 a month salary, 4 weeks vacation, bonus and stock options, relocation expenses, an apartment paid for for 6 months, green card visa assistance and legal fees as well as a company car. Garza informs Tokay that because GAW Miners is a startup, salary is capped at 90k.
With no response to his employment requirements, Tokay contacts Garza on the 29th of December 2014 asking if Garza is ready to close the deal. Garza responds:
Sorry Mate, I have been completely flat out with this launch.
I was thinking, why don't you send me the one that guy would be ok with doing for within the numbers i gave you
Contacted for comment, Mate Tokay provided Qntra with the following statement.
We mutually agreed to stop the negotiation process when the situation got nasty with their company.
Steve Beauregard of GoCoin
On the 22nd of December 2014, Stan Higgins of CoinDesk published an article titled "GoCoin Gains Strategic Investment from GAW Miners for Software Development Push" (archive) but leaked emails call into question whether that investment was ever made and if so, how and who made it. Believing GoCoin to be the ideal platform with which to leverage Paycoin, Garza rushed to invest in GoCoin but was unaware that only an accredited person could make such an investment despite the minimal amount he wished to invest ($75,000). Worse, Garza soon learned he did not meet the definition of an accredited investor and began to use stalling tactics while he attempted to figure out how to finalise the investment.
Regarding the delay, Beauregard writes Garza:
Josh / Amber,
How are you coming with the accredited investor verification letter from your attorney, CPA or broker/dealer?
We need to wrap up the investment if you still plan to participate in the round.
Brendan Garvey of GoCoin also chimed in regarding the delay:
Hello Josh & Amber,
We realize that with your upcoming releases that there are a lot of irons in the fire. That being said, please confirm that you are still looking to participate in this round and are seeking accredited investor verification status at this time.
Thank you and kind regards
In typical Garza style, he responds to Garvey by telling him that the wife of his CPA recently died and that it would be awkward to push him further in order to provide Garza's accredited investor verification status, instead opting to wait patiently for the CPA to provide it in his own time. Two days later, Garza contacts Stuart Fraser of Cantor Fitzgerald in the hope he can bail him out of this mess. Garza writes:
Hey, need your help with something.
I/we are making an investment with this company. It's small (75k), but they are a strategic partner for paycoin.
The issue is I did not know I needed to be an accredited investor for something this small. I have tried arguing with my cpa, my issue is my income is not high enough from last year.
Rather, then make us look like clowns to the industry, I wanted to see if the investment can come through you. I will give you the cash, so there is no downside and they will owe you the money. I just need to make it so there is no egg on our face.
Stuart Fraser responds:
Josh, Who is on the hook to pay them $2mm? Me? I don't get this form? Don't you have Lawyers to deal with this? I don't even know who to send this to at Cantor? Acct or Legal. How do I explain this to the Cantor guys? I have to explain it to them and I don't get it. Outside of the fact you can't. Isn't this between the Companies and not individuals? let me know, plus, I don't know how to fill this shit out! stu
Fraser then contacts David McLain as to the particulars of the investment to which McLain requests further information from Garza. Garza writes to McLain:
We are loaning them 75k. It will be in the form of a note. They will be paying it back to us.
I am having trouble with some personal paperwork on my end. So in the interest of time, I sent it to stu to have him make it. I will send him the 75k, but it will be coming from him. He just needs to sign and send to him, I will send him the cash, and he can send to them (or I may be able to send to them directly) I really need to get it sent tomorrow
David McLain then asks Garza why he didn't have the company loan the money to GoCoin to which Garza responds by claiming he thought the company was ineligible to make the investment. McLain then suggests making the investment in GoCoin via the Garza owned entity BTC.com otherwise known as Business Technology for Cryptocurrency Ventures, LLC. With the documents ready to go, Garza forwards them to Amber Messer but she also has some concerns. Messer writes:
I am looking at the paperwork that needs to be signed, it is not as easy as a "signature here."
I understand that this is not the most efficient way to do this, I apologize, but I would be more comfortable if you looked over the papers before I do anything.
Amid difficulties in finalising the investment, Garza pressures Beauregard to speed up the integration of Paycoin into the GoCoin platform. Garza is so keen on the idea of a Paycoin/GoCoin venture that he has his PR team begin drafting a press release (archive) with the assistance of GoCoin's Amanda Coolong for Garza's highly anticipated announcement. Unfortunately for Garza, the GoCoin team begin to have doubts about making an announcement in haste and wish to slow things down. Coolong writes:
Hello everyone. Adding GoCoin's CEO Steve and CTO Kevin to this thread as well.
Based on my conversations with Christina, it's my understanding that you want to maximize anticipation for your January 2 public launch of PayCoin. If this is correct, I believe the following strategy will achieve all of our aims:
– Next week: GoCoin emails its extensive merchant list with a preview of PayCoin, and offers them an incentive of some kind (free coin, early access, etc.). We control the message, it's delivered directly into the hands of who you're trying to target, and it gets them excited.
– Also next week – GoCoin begins the integration process
– January 2: you launch PayCoin to the public and we share the news with our merchants
– Mid-January: we build on the momentum of your launch release by announcing GoCoin's support for PayCoin, citing it's early success and unique approach to creating stability. This also gives you further market validation. At this stage the integration should be complete and our merchants can start accepting PayCoin immediately.
Ultimately, my concern is the proverbial cart before the horse – it doesn't make sense to announce GoCoin's support for a coin that isn't publicly available yet. It runs the risk of confusing our merchants. If the goal is to build excitement leading up to your public launch, an email marketing campaign is a better approach.
I welcome your thoughts.
Clearly disappointed, Garza believes there must be some confusion on the part of GoCoin as his only goal is to let people know they intend to work together. Coolong responds to his concerns:
I'll ask you the same thing I ask Steve all the time – what is your goal for making the announcement? What do you want people to do once they've read it?
The problem with announcing GoCoin's intention to support PayCoin is that a merchant can't actually do anything with that news. It would be way more powerful to announce that we're actually supporting a new coin, particularly one that just launched with much fanfare and support in the press.
Not pleased with a delay in the announcement, Garza restates the importance of making the announcement ASAP. Beauregard provides Garza with his thoughts on the matter:
Here is the issue with announcing next week. We had a false start with Peercoin a few months back where at an event in London it was leaked that we were adding Peercoin…when we got right down to the end of the integration…we had a security issue and all of the best Peercoin devs had moved on to NXT…we never ended up launching Peercoin (egg on our face on that one)
My understand from the tech team is we don't yet have a working client with which to even begin the integration work…and we won't know what problems we have to fix for some time to come.
Listen…I love to move fast in business too…but we don;t want any more egg on the face…I'd prefer to follow Amanda's advice (that is what I pay her for).
Feel free to call me if you want to discuss one-on-one!
Like a child attempting to bargain with its parents, Garza again reiterates his position but Beauregard makes clear his. Beauregard responds:
There are strong opinions in other direction that it's a bad idea for both of us….
I hadn't considered the Peercoin and recently the StartCoin noise we have made…We run the risk of not being taken seriously.
I think announcing the investment is the best move right now as it shows alignment and we can put out a quote along the lines of….
"We'll be watching with great interest the launch of Paycoin and upon in reaching to levels of liquidity and community support we would welcome as another payment option for GoCoin's merchants worldwide"
That should accomplish both of our goals?
A sullen Garza tells Beauregard that he feels like things are changing and Beauregard attempts to comfort Garza by telling him he is simply listening to his team and that on this one, they are making a lot of sense. Days later and clearly out of the loop, Christina Sarracino from Wise Public Relations advises Amber Messer that the GoCoin/Paycoin announcement (archive) has been completed. CC'd in the email, Coolang responds:
Regarding timing, GoCoin is not issuing the announcement until we have fully implemented and tested PayCoin, which means we're realistically looking at mid-January as a follow-up to PayCoin's general availability release. There are a number of reasons for this outlined earlier in the email thread.
We're excited to be working together and this press release will serve to further highlight the success and momentum of PayCoin. We simply need to issue it in a timeframe that will make sense for both your potential customers and our merchants alike.
There will not doubt be additional changes to the attached draft as we get closer to the issue date, but it's wise to have a working copy with which to collaborate.
Once again upset, Garza responds:
Hey, is it really going to take you guys a month to integrate with Paycoin? Its going to be public this week…..
The hold up is not on our side … I'm told that we have not received a client with which to even begin integration. The preliminary call last week with Joe produced no action items on the GoCoin side.
I don't want to represent that we are "integrating" when we have not even seen the client we would integrate with.
Does that make sense?
The emails do not reveal if Garza's $75,000 investment in GoCoin was ever finalised.
Steve Beauregard has been contacted for comment but has yet to respond to questions put to him by Qntra as to whether the investment was in actual fact made and by whom.
Steve Beauregard provided Qntra with these comments:
While It would be improper to disclose the legal name of the entity that made the investment, I know we ultimately received all of the required documentation that was then reviewed by our attorneys prior to taking the investment.
Brian Klein of Baker Marquart and the Bitcoin Floundation
Unhappy with some of the content Qntra published regarding his scamming, Garza emails Klein, Eric Capuano and Jonah Dorman believing he could hit Qntra directly. Unable to figure out who operates Qntra and from where despite the Qntra contract clearly displayed on the website, Dorman tells Garza that it's difficult to file suit against Qntra. Klein pipes up and claims Qntra authors are bullshit artists. Klein writes:
We should discuss what we might be able to do. There may be ways we can go after these bullshit artists no matter where they reside.
Supporting documentation/evidence including emails, photos, spreadsheets and contracts cited in the publication of this article can be downloaded here.
Tokay does not state what that deal is but it is likely CEX.IO were also interested in purchasing Bitcoinist. ↩