20 min read

COPA vs Craig Wright: The Identity Trial

Highlights from the multitude of lies exposed during the questioning of Craig Wright.
COPA vs Craig Wright: The Identity Trial

Our favorite fake Satoshi is back in court, but this time is different: he's up against his most well-funded adversary to date! Many are referring to this as "the identity trial" because COPA's goal is to effectively neuter Craig's legal efforts by proving he's a fraud who should not be afforded time in the court system... at least, as a plaintiff.

What's the case about? Per COPA:

“Our case is that Wright’s claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto is a brazen lie, an elaborate false narrative supported by forgery on an industrial scale.”

Why Bother?

I, like many others, was happy to ignore Craig for the first few years after he burst on the scene. All his attempts to prove himself as Satoshi were quickly debunked and it seems that only the most moronic of gullible fools would believe his lies. But after several years, as Craig hopped from BTC to BCH to BSV, his cult grew more brazen and his attacks became more damaging as he started taking his detractors to court and racking up absurd legal bills. By 2019 I felt compelled to compile a list of evidence debunking numerous claims Craig had made and showing that his narrative directly conflicted with a variety of facts regarding Satoshi.

How Many Wrongs Make a Wright?
Craig Wright insists that he’s Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin - but the evidence doesn’t line up.

When Craig starting filing patents and copyright claims, it became clear what his tactics were. I wrote a bit about that as well.

Craig Wright’s Copyright Claim
Craig Wright registered a copyright claim of the Bitcoin whitepaper. Does this claim hold any weight?

With the financial backing of Calvin Ayre, Craig intends to bully Bitcoiners with the legal system in order to try to force them to do his bidding. Ultimately, it appears his end goal is to get some sort of legal judgement that will give him a sufficient excuse to execute BSV's confiscation functionality (ELI5 thread can be found here) so that he can reassign "Satoshi's coins" to himself on the BSV network. And, I presume, if he's successful with that then he'll attempt to work his way backwards through BCH and BTC. Of course, those attempts will fail because neither network is going to bow to any court's demands.

Craig has been quite open about his brutish goals, boasting many times over the years to his cult. We have the receipts. Here's but a small sample:

Through absurdly overwhelming litigation tactics, he has sought to financially drain and emotionally distress his opponents. This includes the Bitcoin developer community, many of whom contribute to the ecosystem without expectation of financial reward.

Wright has threatened me as well, but he's too cowardly (and probably running low on funds from Calvin) to go through with it. (Hi Craig, you miserable corncob!)

Source: https://archive.is/ZS9OT and https://archive.is/ITQzr
Source: https://archive.is/B2qmz

Interestingly enough, Craig admitted to his plans on the stand. He fully intends to keep harassing Bitcoiners. This is why I believe he deserves to be legally crushed with extreme prejudice.

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1757771011083141177

Per Paul Grewal, Coinbase (COPA member) Chief Legal Officer:

If Wright prevails in his claim, it could bring fundamental parts of the Bitcoin community to a standstill. None of us who care about the promise of crypto and the urgent need to update the global financial system can stand for that. Wright must be stopped permanently from making such claims, threatening developers and companies with fraudulent intellectual property litigation and consuming valuable time and resources necessary to build the innovative products a modern financial system requires.

Source Materials

Thanks to BitMEX Research, Norbert, and Tufty for posting a blow-by-blow from the courtroom and to Arthur Van Pelt, hodlonaut, WhatTheFinance9, and WizSec for some great highlights. If you really want all the boring back and forth, check out Norbert's threads here:

I don't recommend reading through the raw drivel; we have suffered through it so that you don't have to.

Trial Synopsis

Craig spent a week on the stand attempting to explain the multitude of inconsistencies submitted into evidence by COPA and the Bitcoin Developers. The transcripts are pretty boring because it mostly goes like this:

COPA: "So in exhibit X we see that you provided this document that the forensic experts have shown to be manipulated and/or backdated."

Craig: "No. AKSHUALLY..."

But there's a very important point to note with regard to this trial's proceedings.

This isn't the same as civil cases in the United States in which the evidence can be challenged in court and successfully overturned. The evidence for both sides has already been presented and accepted. The trial is when the judge gets to hear Craig's excuses for WHY there are so many forgeries and false statements in the evidence. Although Craig spent a lot of time coming up with excuses for why the case's expert witnesses (including his own forensic expert!) were unqualified, it's unlikely to help his case and is tantamount to insulting the court itself.

A charitable explanation for why Craig was allowed to perjure himself for a week in the witness box is that he was being given enough rope with which to hang himself.

Into The Weeds We Go

All in all we're talking ~40 hours of testimony by Craig, so I'll stick to the most egregious and hilarious highlights. Pretty much everything you'll read was pulled from X because the Court did not allow the livestream to be recorded or transcribed. There may be some minor inaccuracies due to transcription errors, but the major points seem to be well agreed upon. Whenever appropriate I'll embed the post directly, but in some cases I'll upload a screenshot and link the tweet to prevent truncation or data loss.

Let's begin by pouring one out for the man behind the curtain: Calvin Ayre. He has been financing Craig's shenanigans for ~8 years now, and by some estimates has blown a couple hundred million dollars doing so. While Craig has conned many folks over the years, Calvin appears to be the biggest mark by far. As you might imagine, he's getting rather frustrated.

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1755695132286795964

Calvin has made a MASSIVE mistake from which he's never gonna financially recover. The mind boggling fact is that if he had merely chosen to invest those funds into BTC rather than into Craig and BSV, he'd have made tens of billions of dollars in profit.


Craig called pretty much everything into question during his time on the stand, which included his own attorneys, employees, and even the software he used. At one point he claimed that Citrix systems would randomly mix portions of documents together in order to explain how some of his documents had been shown to have been manipulated.

Craig claims to have invented a custom C++ time tracking library that just so happens to be exactly like the standard chrono library that was invented years later. Because the logical, simpler explanation was that he backdated evidence that included code from the future!

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1755965244671750421

Craig's made-up calendar is wrong again and he claims to be able to do things before they exist. He was also somehow running orders of magnitude more hashrate on the early network than can be observed from looking at the difficulty target.

Source: https://twitter.com/tuftythecat/status/1757082385810620861

Craig made several nonsensical claims about PGP keys. He also appeared not to know about PGP subkeys, which is a standard way of using one master key for several different purposes.

Craig has a habit of accusing others of doing exactly what he's doing. Here he accuses his detractors of spewing technobabble!

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1757433950505419087

Self Owns

While I'd characterize the vast majority of Craig's claims as lies, there were some magical moments of honesty during his time on the stand.

For example, Craig casually admits to regularly backdating documents. You know, as one tends to do.

At one point Craig disavowed his own signature by claiming that he has other people sign for him. Wow - with Wright trying to wriggle out of responsibility, that sounds like an admission of supporting fraudulent signatures to me! He probably should have just gone with "I don't recall."

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1757419618526785614

In another instance, Craig disavows one of his signatures and says that a lot of his signatures are fake which just seems to create more questions than answers in my opinion. Also, he didn't identify the signature that was put into evidence as being fake, despite telling his attorneys it was fake? Under the bus you go, Shoosmiths!

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1757716904599339221

At one point Craig appears to admit to plagiarism. Then he has plenty of excuses, of course, for why the citations tend to go missing from his publications.

As far as we can tell from blockchain records, Satoshi only ever made around 10 transactions. Yet Craig claims to have made hundreds as Satoshi. And yet... he had trouble remembering any of them.

Remember that time on stage when Craig had a Freudian slip while discussing the Bitcoin whitepaper? He said "I remember reading it... probably when I wrote it..."

Well, Craig had another slip up in court when he referred to Satoshi in the third person.

Craig admits to not telling the whole truth while under oath in Florida. Imagine saying "I was being incredibly difficult because I didn't want to answer the judge" while you're sitting in a witness box right next to your latest judge!

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1757056447794270226

Wright, possibly to reinforce his defense or clarify his position, referenced discussions and decisions made with his legal team, thus waiving his privilege to not disclose such strategies. His own counsel was aghast.

"My Lord, at this stage I am afraid that my client does not know what he is doing."
- Lord Grabiner (representing Craig Wright)

Unbelievable Claims

Craig loves to make unfalsifiable claims and has no end to the misdirection he can offer. But only a fool will believe overly complicated explanations when Occam's Razor shall suffice.

Craig claims he wrote 3 papers during the time he was spending all day on the witness stand. Claims to be in the middle of 5 doctorate programs. Remember that we've seen strong evidence that he has plagiarized dissertations.

Source: https://twitter.com/BitMEXResearch/status/1757767666465415410

On another occasion, Craig says it wasn't three papers it was three patents that he wrote AND filed during lunch breaks.

Source: https://twitter.com/BitMEXResearch/status/1757904031236653174

The patents claim is particularly interesting because on day 10 of the trial, one of Craig's patent lawyers was on the stand and several tidbits came to light. Despite Craig often claiming to have authored hundreds of patents:

  • It looks like many patents are counted multiple times due to being filed in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Only 6 patents list Craig as the sole inventor.
  • Many patents only added his name months or years after initial filing!
Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1758471698779643971

We're all very impressed by Craig's pathological lying.

Craig claims to not know what Calvin Ayre is doing. Claims he doesn't read Twitter, or even run his own Twitter account.

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1757749389794111927

Self Contradictions

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive!

Craig literally published a book about IT Security compliance. A book in which he literally wrote about the dangers of internal attacks. And yet, as we've seen, he has claimed to suffer from internal attacks on numerous occasions. It's a shame he doesn't take his own advice!

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1755965975214625121

Craig has trouble keeping his story straight about why he destroyed his keys.

Craig has spent the past 8 years screaming that he's going to prove he's Satoshi one way or another, but when it's convenient he claims he doesn't want to be known as Satoshi. Remember in 2016 when he said he was only going to have 1 media appearance and then never be on camera again?

Craig makes claims about a third person behind Bitcoin who can't be revealed due to "national security reasons" but can't actually provide any details. When pressed further, he says that he typed the claim but not the email containing the claim? More self-contradicting waffling and refusal to take responsibility for his lies.

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1757054808781926792

On the stand, Craig said he never promised to spend Satoshi's coins he says the email in evidence was fake and sent by someone else.

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1757724560382701949

Except, oh wait, we have an account from Andrew O'Hagan that on May 3, 2016, Wright promised to spend some of Satoshi’s coins. Of course, now Craig claims that "The Satoshi Affair" is a work of fiction. But you'll note that the sidebar on the London Review of Books' page for this work describes it as reporting rather than fiction.

Andrew O’Hagan’s piece in this issue is the fourth in a series of reported pieces for the LRB.

Third Party Refutations

Craig threw several folks under the bus while on the stand... they didn't appreciate it. Here's Steve Shadders, former CTO of nChain:

Source: https://twitter.com/shadders333/status/1755901718070718822

Here's Christen Ager-Hanssen, former CEO of nChain:

Source: https://twitter.com/agerhanssen/status/1755701254741786734

Ira Kleiman, the plaintiff in the Florida case in which he alleges Craig Wright defrauded his dead brother's estate, denies Craig's claim that he turned down a multi-billion dollar settlement offer:

Dustin Trammell, an early Bitcoin miner, denies Craig's claim of receiving pre-release Bitcoin client source code.

Source: https://twitter.com/druidian/status/1758291835909271771

Proof of Ignorance (Incomplete Lies)

Craig can't remember any of his PhD advisors.

Craig can't explain how the critical consensus functions for validating blocks and transactions work.

Craig doesn't know how to properly pronounce "LaTeX" (lay-tech, not lay-tex)

Craig keeps changing his story as he learns more facts over the years.

Craig doesn't actually understand the Patoshi Pattern. I guess he doesn't read my blog!

Craig claims Taproot facilitates anonymous transactions and illegal exchanges. I wish he was right, but unfortunately this is completely absurd.

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1757748565076533416

Calling Craig a computer scientist is an insult to computer scientists like myself. We know that he falsely claimed to have a PhD in Computer Science for years.

We've known for years that Craig can't code his way out of a paper bag. Remember in 2018 when he "proved" he could code by posting a screenshot of a C++ "Hello World" tutorial?

One of the most entertaining failures Craig made during the trial was his inability to explain what an unsigned integer is.

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1757780663158051286

For context: Satoshi used unsigned integers in 500+ places throughout the Bitcoin codebase, thus to ask "Satoshi" what it is and not get a coherent answer would be like asking Lance Armstrong what a bicycle is or Michael Jordan what a basketball is and not getting a straight answer.

Craig doesn't know how to read code diffs, which is a basic skill developers learn in year 1. He literally said "I don't know how to use use git." His excuse is that he only uses subversion, but if you can read a subversion diff then you can read a git diff.

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1757781963132289096

Craig doesn't know that a double pipe ( || ) means "or" in C++.

Craig doesn't understand the very opcodes he supposedly wrote. Nor does he understand which ones are in BSV!

Source: https://twitter.com/wizsecurity/status/1758349174972567932

The Blame Game

Craig is simultaneously the most highly accredited security expert in the world and also holds the distinction of being the most frequently betrayed and hacked security expert in the world. We are all very impressed!

Source: https://twitter.com/opencryptoorg/status/1755674565160616396

My understanding is that one of Craig's tactics is to accuse anyone and everyone of pretty much anything he can think of while on the witness stand. Because apparently, when someone is on the witness stand they have a sort of immunity against prosecution for defamation. I'm disappointed that I didn't have the honor of making the cut for being defamed!

Craig accuses Greg Maxwell of hacking him, accuses Adam Back of financial crimes and withholding evidence.

Craig accuses Martti Malmi and Cobra of being behind Silk Road... not sure what that has to do with this case!

Craig blames Jack Dorsey for personally shutting down his Twitter account.

Source: https://twitter.com/bitnorbert/status/1757018407705223646

Craig blames the BBC for losing the footage of his signing ceremony, as if that would mean anything (it would be worthless and unverifiable.)

I think my favorite blame of all was "this Craig is another Craig."

The Pièce de Résistance

Imagine missing a day in your fraud case because you have to deal with being charged with contempt in another case.

The level of denial and gaslighting we've observed in this case is astounding to say the least. According to Craig:

  • His social media accounts don't actually belong to him
  • He doesn't make his own blog posts
  • Many people other than Craig have access to his email
  • He has been hacked numerous times
  • His signatures are often forged, sometimes with his permission

Whenever someone tries to actually corner Craig and pin down the truth, he turns into a ghost and nothing he has ever said can be attributed to him. It's extremely convenient... and predictable, at this point.

What's Going to Happen?

I've got to credit Craig with one thing: he has expertly maneuvered through the legal system and really opened my eyes to what one can get away with as a well-funded civil litigant.

Best case: Justice Mellor (who has an engineering degree, by the way) sees that Craig is a pathological liar who perjures himself without remorse and finds in favor of COPA. Craig gets labelled as a vexatious litigant and effectively barred from filing any further lawsuits in the UK. Hopefully other jurisdictions would also then take the ruling into account. Stretch goal: Craig gets referred to the Crown Prosecution Service by Justice Mellor for his flagrant fraud against the court and ends up with criminal charges. If Craig is charged with perversion of the course of justice then he may face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Worst case: Craig somehow slithers away with little to no punishment and is free to continue his legal attacks against any who dispute his lies via defamation claims and against anyone who wants to build on Bitcoin via false intellectual property claims.

I said it before and I'll say it again. Craig has spent nearly a decade spinning this web of lies; he's in too deep. We should expect that he won't stop until he's literally unable to continue.