Craig Steven Wright

Australian software enthusiast Craig Steven Wright, also known as CSW, born in October of 1970, is notable for making an unsubstantiated claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto in May of 2016.


It is known that Craig Wright is definitely a software enthusiast. He volunteered as an unpaid computer science lecturer at Charles Sturt University and paid to complete various technical certification tests: a GIAC certification in Compliance and Audits, a GSE Malware certification, and a GSECompliance certification.

Craig has claimed to have a doctorate in computer science, although when contacted Charles Sturt University made a statement to the contrary. CSU further went on to contradict his characterization of his employment there, clarifying that the position he had previously referred to was an unpaid volunteer role.

Craig has often referred to himself as a doctor in software contexts, but his only doctorate claim that is not questioned is that of a theological doctorate with a thesis relating to creationism.

Over the years Craig Wright has been mentioned in relationship to various marginal activities. Craig helped create a casino in 1999. In 2004 he was convicted of contempt of court and sentenced to 28 days in jail. Craig maintained his innocence, but the charges were held up on two separate appeals.

Bitcoin Claims

In recent years Craig has been mentioned in relation to a questionable deal in which his company claimed $54 million in tax rebates from the Australian government that were earmarked to reward tech industry investment in Australia. The circumstances around that substantial rebate have been called into question, by the Australian authorities and others. There remains a distinct lack of information as to whether the rebates were warranted.

Craig Wright claimed that his claimed government monies were to be used in relation to a Bitcoin related supercomputer project his company Cloudcroft was creating, in partnership with the well known computing firm SGI. His company circulated a signed letter on SGI letterhead declaring the partnership. But when asked to confirm the partnership directly, the SGI Chief Operating Officer denied any involvement with the project. He went further, stating that SGI had never even had any contact with Cloudcroft. No proof of the Cloudcroft supercomputer's existence was ever published.

In December of 2015, Craig Wright's house was raided by the Sydney police in a tax investigation relating to tax rebates. Part of the claims of this tax rebate related to Bitcoin: it was claimed by Craig that he had a large amount of Bitcoin in the makeup of his investments, but no proof of these assertions was ever made available.

Craig was in fact listed as a MTGox customer on leaked customer reports published in 2014, but only purchasing Bitcoin and after a large media blitz where buying Bitcoin was becoming increasingly well-known. By the leak's numbers Craig spent about five thousand dollars to acquire fifty coins, losing fifteen to the MTGox collapse. This raised a question, why would someone holding over a million bitcoins worth hundreds of millions of dollars spend thousands of dollars over a long stretch of time to buy fifty more?

In December of 2015, around the same time as the heated tax investigation into the veracity of Craig's Bitcoin investment and holding claims, unsourced rumors started to suggest that Craig is Satoshi. If he were Satoshi, it would have given great credence to his tax related claims of large Bitcoin related holdings and investment. Some of these rumors find their way into public stories published by news outlets, but no credible evidence is found, and some evidence that is produced seems to have been fabricated to mislead people into misinterpretation.

Satoshi Claims

It was revealed by Andrew O'Hagan in the London Review of Books that Craig had been working with some business associates on the assumption of his secret Satoshi identity. Craig privately claimed, but never showed proof, to many people that he was Satoshi, and had arranged a high stakes business relationship to create a large series of Bitcoin related patents in a very large multimillion dollar deal. As an advance on the anticipated profits, Craig was offered large sums of money, which he spent lavishly on ostentatious cars and clothing, to the chagrin of his business partners.

After 2015, the story died down due to the disproven evidence and dead-end leads. Craig and his partners, with a professional PR company, began to contact news outlets about publishing new evidence to his Satoshi identity, promising them a valuable story on very specific terms. Craig demanded that all involved sign non disclosure agreements and then go to meet him in a rented conference room to validate his claim. He demanded that only a computer produced by his assistant is used to cryptographically sign his proof, a computer that the verifiers are not allowed to keep for an inspection. Craig further demanded that he be allowed to add a modifier of his initials to a signing statement. The signing tool used was the Electrum Bitcoin wallet, but Electrum developers reported no UK IP downloaded the verifying software signature file that would confirm the software's legitimacy.

The entire setup of these in person proof sessions was created in a suspect way, leading experts to believe that an in-person proof could easily have been stage managed and faked. The reason stated for the careful controls was to avoid early release of the proof, however this could have been done in a remote way using a method of cryptography where Gavin could have been able to receive a personal proof of a signature that he would still be unable to use to publicly prove to the world was real. It's possible that Gavin was unaware of this cryptographic method, but then the lack of knowledge would imply that Craig and everyone involved in the proving sessions were not very qualified in cryptography related subjects. Gavin has previously stated that he is not a cryptography expert.

As part of his proof, Craig also reintroduced some of the fabricated evidence that surfaced during the December rumors. To counter the critics who pointed out the uselessness of the evidence, he produced and quoted verbatim a supposedly third party report substantiating the evidence and personally and separately attacking the people, mainly Greg Maxwell, who called into question the veracity of the evidence. The report in question was sourced from a paid technical evidence consulting agency located in the same city as Craig. This agency, with no known connection or published history with Bitcoin, addressed the unrelated Bitcoin Core project quite specifically and negatively, with views consistent with Craig's previously stated views. The writing style of the report, Craig's ability to repeat it verbatim, and the geological proximity and nature of the firm publishing the report suggested his close involvement with its creation. Although he printed and passed around the report to reporters, Craig did not disclose any relationship with the formation of the report.

In May of 2016 Craig Wright lifted the embargo on the story and declared himself to be Satoshi, with a lengthy blog post about how he could cryptographically sign a statement to prove he is Satoshi. At the top of his post he added a statement to sign stating that he is Satoshi, encoded in an unreadable machine format, as would be fed into the signing process he then went on to describe. At the end of the post describing how to derive a cryptographic signature from a statement, he quoted a cryptographic signature which could be run through the described signature verification to show that it is Satoshi's signature. However the signature at the end of the post did not sign the statement at the beginning of the post. Instead it was a well known and completely unrelated old signature from Satoshi. This fact left unstated by Craig was soon discovered by fact-checkers who referenced the signature against Satoshi's previously known signatures.

Given the missing evidence and suspicious circumstances and history, his claim was widely called a scam, although Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen maintained their positions, despite the evidence of malfeasance. Gavin did express surprise at the lack of public evidence, implying that he was previously led to believe that the evidence would be public and inspectable beyond the confines of the fixed private demonstration. Even so, when pressed Gavin demurred from backing off his claim. Gavin also does not mention any separate evidence that he said earlier he would demand, such as private correspondence that only he and Satoshi would have been privy to.

One point of skepticism mentioned by evaluators of Craig Wright's published works is that there are no commonalities found between his writing style and that of Satoshi Nakamoto's published works. Even trivial style choices like choosing double spaces after every period, a signature of Satoshi's, was absent from Craig Wright's writings. Suspiciously, after this point was widely mentioned, Craig Wright started going out of his way to add multiple spaces after his periods in his HTML blog posts. HTML by default does not visually display redundant white-space, but Craig added special default override code to force its display.

After the ensuing the adverse reactions to his claim, Craig Wright contacted the press and put out statements to the effect that he would produce compelling public evidence, as previously was tacitly promised. He claimed to have evidence that would put to rest any remaining doubt with an extraordinary new proof. He asks Gavin and BBC reporters to send funds to Satoshi's known addresses, so that he can send it back. However as the time ticks down on his promise, he backs out, with a nonsensical and wandering statement about being worried to provide actual proof.

Gavin and the BBC's money was never returned to them.