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Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Hacker threatens to expose bitcoin creator

A hacker has taken over the email account of bitcoin's secretive creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, threatening to sell Nakamoto's secrets for money.

The attacker, who gave his name as "Jeffrey" in an interview with WIRED (opens in new tab), claims that he has obtained information that could be used to reveal Nakamoto's identity.

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Jeffrey said that he was able to take control of the satoshin@gmx.com email address that Nakamoto had used for some of his correspondences, but did not reveal how he had done so.

In a post (opens in new tab) on Pastebin, Jeffrey stated that he will reveal Satoshi's secrets in exchange for 25 bitcoins, or approximately £7,500, and claimed to be in possession of messages dating back to 2011.

A programmer, or group of programmers, going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto released the open source software behind bitcoin back in 2009. The cryptocurrency has since become a worldwide phenomenon, with some individuals attempting to unmask its creator.

Since Monday, Jeffrey has also taken over several other Nakamoto accounts, making posts to various bitcoin-related websites and claiming that information on the currency's creator is already being sold online.

"Apparently, you didn't configure Tor properly and your IP leaked when you used your email account sometime in 2010. You are not safe. You need to get out of where you are as soon as possible before these people harm you," he wrote in a P2P Foundation message.

If Jeffrey's claims are true, the email messages could contain substantial information regarding the identity of bitcoin's creator.

The head administrator of BitcoinTalk (opens in new tab), Michael Marquardt, however, thinks that there may be a more predictable explanation for Jeffrey's claims.

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"I'm pretty sure," he said, "that this is just some troll in it for the laughs."

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.