NY Post Highlights Early Bitcoin Adopter Charlie Shrem and His Smoking-Hot Crypto Story to Be

  • Charlie Shrem was hired by the Winklevoss brothers to make Bitcoin purchases.
  • He was arrested in 2014 for multiple charges by the FBI, IRS, and other US-based authorities.

Charlie Shrem is a name that will live in infamy as the man who duped the Winklevoss brothers, Cameron and Tyler. Most people know the brothers for their famous feud with the creator of Facebook, but Shrem knows them as the two individuals who looked to him for guidance in the Bitcoin world.

After all, Shrem was the founder of one of the first firms to ever purchase Bitcoin for clients called BitInstant. Now, his experience has opened the door for Ben Mezrich to write a book called “Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption.”

Mezrich describes the story of Shrem in his book, which is due to be released on Tuesday. He said that Cameron and Tyler met Shrem in his Midtown office, where he was smoking marijuana from a bong upon meeting them. He pitched an idea to the brothers – that they could become premier investors in Bitcoin, and they agreed. On the day that this trio met, BitInstant was selling 30% of all Bitcoin at $7.43 each.

The brothers dedicated $800,000 to the investment with BitInstant, and they received a 22% stake in the company in return. According to the book, their moves make them one of the top buyers of Bitcoin, driving up the price and becoming billionaires in 2017.

There was no reason to think that Shrem was not exactly what he said he was. He was a CEO that was featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, and eventually became a part-owner of EVR, a Midtown club. Mezrich said that Shrem was met with people who actually listened to him, giving him “a high” like the ones he experienced in his office.

With this success, Shrem moved out of his parents’ basement, choosing to reside in a room above his part-owned club, and dated a woman who was “way out of his league” named Courtney Warner.

Allegedly, the party boy spent the first date throwing back shots left and right, ultimately throwing up on her. When she did not bolt, Shrem knew he found a keeper.

Unfortunately, the partying impacted the professional life he ran. He started showing up to meetings while smelling of last night’s (or maybe that morning’s) alcohol, and even become “almost unintelligible” at a meeting with a venture capitalist. That meeting was the last straw for the twins, who stated that his position as CEO may need to be rethought. Not only was Shrem the CEO, but he was also a chief compliance officer, which lead the company down a bad road as well.

With no education or background in the laws surrounding US money transmission, Shrem became to break the rules on daily Bitcoin purchases for customers. Most famously, he allowed BTCKing to pass the $1,000 daily limit by three times over.

By January 2014, Shrem came home from an overseas trip for several meetings, and was stopped by agents from the IRS, DEA, NYPD, and FBI. He was charged with “conspiracy to commit money laundering, failure to file a suspicious-activity report, and operating an unlicensed money transmitter,” as stated by the New York Post.

The reason for the charges had to do with the exceptions made for BTCKing, who ended up using their profits for illegal drug purchases, putting Shrem at risk for 25 years behind bars. By the following year, Shrem scored a plea deal and only spent two years in prison. Upon leasing, he married his longtime girlfriend and moved into a boat that was kept in Florida.

In November 2018, the plot thickened. The Winklevoss brothers came after Shrem, saying that they paid for 5,000 Bitcoin that Shrem shorted them. Upon denying this, the brothers were forced to pay $45,000 to Shrem for the legal fees he sustained. However, the case was settled confidentially last month.

Now, Shrem appears to still be in the crypto game, considered his launch of Crypto.IQ, a crypto information website. Even before his sentencing, Shrem told the courts, “Bitcoin is what I love and all I have. It’s my whole life. It’s what I’m on this Earth to do … it ­allowed everyone to be equal.”

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