Inside life of Bitcoin trader suspected of faking own death as widow says she tried to kill herself after dream imploded


WHEN multi-millionaire crypto whizkid Gerry Cotten suddenly died on a dream honeymoon to India he left one hell of a mess behind – with some questioning whether he was really dead at all.

At the time he was the 30-year-old founder and CEO of Canada’s leading cryptocurrency exchange Quadriga, living life in the fast lane.

Crypto exchange CEO Gerry Cotten was living life in the fast lane until his sudden death in India

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Crypto exchange CEO Gerry Cotten was living life in the fast lane until his sudden death in IndiaCredit: Provided by Jennifer Robertson
Cotten's widow says she did not know that he was running a giant Ponzi scheme

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Cotten’s widow says she did not know that he was running a giant Ponzi schemeCredit: Provided by Jennifer Robertson
The couple had a fairytale wedding in Scotland but two months later Cotten was dead

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The couple had a fairytale wedding in Scotland but two months later Cotten was deadCredit: Candace Berry Photography

Running the business from his MacBook Pro as he traveled the world, Cotten had stacked enough wealth to afford a $500,000 CAD yacht he named the Gulliver, a single-engine Cessna airplane, luxury cars, and a rental property empire for his besotted wife to run.  

What became apparent after his death in December 2018, however, was that Quadriga was a giant Ponzi scheme which came crashing down once Cotten was dead and gone.

With him went all the passwords to access Quadriga’s approximately quarter billion US dollars in funds, leaving 76,000 angry investors high and dry and with some having lost their entire life savings.

Some suspect to this day that the baby-faced entrepreneur had began to run out of road for his lies and it was all too convenient that he had suddenly passed away of complications from Crohn’s disease in a far off land.

No autopsy was ever requested and calls for his body to be exhumed to prove that he died have so far been resisted by his widow, Jennifer Robertson, who says she sees no need to give in to what she describes as baseless conspiracy theories that Cotten faked his own death.

Speaking to The Sun following publication of her memoir Bitcoin Widow: Love, Betrayal and the Missing Millions, the 30-year-old told how she was left to face the music alone.

From her point of view, what seemed like a fairytale turned into a nightmare the day Cotten passed away, leaving her so lost she tried to take her own life with an overdose of tranquilizers washed down with a bottle of wine. 

Even though she ran a business which dealt with payment processing for Quadriga, she insists she never knew what he was up to until the house of cards came crashing down.

She said: “I was holding his hand while they were trying to resuscitate him. 

“I saw his body after and it was the worst moment of my life.

“I had met the man of my dreams, who loved me for who I was. 

“He made me feel like I was a great person but now I don’t know if those were his real feelings or if it was just part of his manipulating conman thing. 

“That’s what kills me. Every day for the rest of my life I have to realize that the one time that I really experienced this amazing unconditional love, was it all just fake? I still don’t know.”

TOP OF THE CRYPTO PILE

When the couple first met through dating app Tinder in November 2014, Robertson was on the rebound from an unhappy marriage and Cotten was less than a year into his Quadriga venture. 

The closing price for Bitcoin – the original and still most popular crypotcurrency – the year they started dating was $320.19.

But several strokes of luck catapulted Cotten’s company to the very top of the crypto pile as the price of Bitcoin began to explode. 

Just six weeks after Quadriga launched, the then largest global Bitcoin exchange – Tokyo-based Mt Gox – suspended operations amid claims hackers had stolen $473million from customer accounts. 

Then a year later, Canada’s largest exchange announced it too was closing due to a hack, and that same week the country’s second-biggest exchange was also wound up. 

Crowned as the biggest player in the pioneering Canadian crypto market, Cotten even launched a bid to be listed on the country’s stock exchange although in the end the listing never happened.

Then in 2017 the price of Bitcoin shot up to nearly $20,000, with Quadriga processing nearly $2billion in trades and taking a cut from every transaction.  

Robertson says that Bitcoin’s historic 2017 bull run meant she had no reason to doubt where all the money was coming from.  

She said: “Gerry’s wealth grew with the price of Bitcoin, which kept going up and up and up and up. 

“He had told me that his company followed all the rules and it was the only cryptocurrency exchange registered with anti-money laundering regulator Fintrac.”

PONZI SCHEMES

Despite his claims of transparency, what later emerged was that Cotten in fact had a background in high-yield investment programs, or HYIPs, also known as Ponzi or pyramid schemes.

Following the collapse of Quadriga, regulators described what he had been doing as “an old-fashioned fraud wrapped in modern technology.”

Cotten had opened fake accounts with Quadriga using aliases and credited himself with fictitious money and crypto assets which he traded with unsuspecting clients.  

An investigation by the Ottawa Securities Commission found that meanwhile, between May 2016 and January 2018, Cotten transferred $24million of client funds to himself and Jennifer.

Flush with money, Cotten bought a Tesla, a Lexus, the Cessna plane, the yacht, and gave Robertson money to start a rental property business which grew to include 16 homes. 

She says the pair of them were “obsessed” with travel and made it a point to travel to as many exotic locations as they possibly could. 

They went everywhere from Macchu Pichu to Morocco to the Maldives, with Cotten at one point bragging to a Quadriga contractor: “In total I’m up to 56 countries, 37 with Jen.”

In October 2018 the happy couple flew over to Scotland for a wedding ceremony in front of only their closest relatives at a spectacular five star hotel in the Highlands. 

DEATH ON HONEYMOON

Then at the end of November, they traveled to India for their honeymoon and to see the opening of an orphanage they had sponsored.   

But while in Jaipur, Cotten – who often suffered flare ups due to Crohn’s disease – fell ill, then went into septic shock and died a day later on December 9.

Robertson says she kept quiet about the death until over a month later and immediately moved to protect assets Cotten had left her in a trust on advice from her lawyer.

But suspicions fell on her after it emerged that Cotten had only drawn up a detailed will that left everything to her just weeks before he died.  

Robertson claims that the decision to draw up the will came from her but was prompted by a brother of hers suffering a heart attack and almost dying. 

Questions were also raised about Cotten’s name being misspelled on his death certificate, which Robertson explains as an understandable mistake given they were in a foreign country. 

She says that during the chaos that followed she suffered death threats and cyber bullying and was forced to relocate. 

But in the end, she says it was the realization that Gerry had been a con artist all along which tipped her over the edge. 

Robertson said: “When my lawyer called me and said that Gerry had been running a Ponzi scheme and was a fraud, when I found out what he had done, a week past and I couldn’t handle it any more. 

“I attempted to take my own life with an overdose of Ativan and a bottle of wine. 

“I was sure I would not wake up again and still have no idea how I survived.”

Now pregnant with a baby girl expected to be born in March and with a new partner, Robertson added: “I do want the investors to know that I feel terrible that they have lost money.

“I have to carry the shame of what Gerry did for the rest of my life.”

The couple traveled the world from Morocco to Macchu Pichu and the Maldives

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The couple traveled the world from Morocco to Macchu Pichu and the MaldivesCredit: Provided by Jennifer Robertson
Jennifer says she's not sure if her with Cotten was a scam too

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Jennifer says she’s not sure if her with Cotten was a scam tooCredit: Provided by Jennifer Robertson

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