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Ezbtc vancouverB.C. cryptocurrency exchange faces 6 lawsuits, 'dozens' of unpaid users | CTV News
While it is unclear how many claimants there are, or how much is being claimed in total, ezBtc faces at least six lawsuits in British Columbia alone.
Among them are two from former business associates claiming millions. Sound familiar? It was a similar story with the ill-fated QuadrigaCX , also from Vancouver. Such incidents create colourful copy. The cryptocurrency realm is populated by intriguing characters worthy of Hollywood. My inquiries into ezBtc turned up yet another one, David Smillie. But shadowy as it seems, the world of cryptocurrency is painfully real for people who lose money.
And critics pounce on such moments as proof a lawless realm needs policing. Exchanges handle billions in assets and allow effortless yet irreversible transactions, but operate with little regulatory oversight and are surprisingly easy to set up. As Bitcoin becomes mainstream, any accusation against a platform could greatly stain cryptocurrency in the eyes of the public.
In some of the lawsuits, the court ruled against ezBtc because the company failed to respond on time or show up at trial. By all appearances, it was a high-flying career. Smillie moved between high-profile media outlets and his work took him around the world. London treated him well. He even met a girl. Yet Smillie did not stay. He eventually went back home.
A novel idea ran through his head. He was going to start a cryptocurrency exchange. In the summer of , Smillie registered a numbered corporation, B. Initially based in Vancouver, its address is now a brick-red office block in downtown Nanaimo, B. It is easy to begin. Pre-packaged exchange code is widely and cheaply available. Or you can just hire someone on the freelancing website Fiverr to build the platform. The next steps are a little harder.
An exchange needs good banking relations because it moves around a lot of money, as Smillie told me in an email last year. They met via the website LocalBitcoins, which connects cryptocurrency buyers and sellers directly, Godwin said in an interview.
He added that it was before Smillie launched ezBtc. Smillie wanted more Bitcoin on credit and proposed an interest rate of 2. That was low in the cryptocurrency world, he added. Godwin is old-school internet.
He still uses Hotmail for email. In , Godwin sold snowboard. Godwin had also participated in what was then a blockchain crown jewel, The DAO , a sort of investor-directed venture capital fund that collapsed in after a colossal hack.
The dastardly deeds, brazen thefts and the highs and lows of the techno Wild West — Godwin has seen them all. And he is wary. Godwin said he made sure to put everything on paper when he eventually lent ezBtc Bitcoins. In March , Godwin sued for more than bitcoins, taking into account what he said was interest. By now the amount allegedly owed would be more than 4, Bitcoins.
Smillie responded that his company had fully repaid any loans with either cash or Bitcoin and disputed the total borrowed. In the meantime, ezBtc rose quickly in the domestic cryptocurrency scene. It became one of four platforms whose data were used to calculate the Canadian Bitcoin Index, a widely used guide for local cryptocurrency prices.
At the time, success was not hard. Everyone wanted to buy cryptocurrency, and an exchange would take a commission on every trade. Life was good. Already leery of cryptocurrency companies, banks became unnerved by the spike in incoming cash as exchanges sold more and more Bitcoins.
And users of some exchanges started experiencing delays in withdrawing money. Users disagreed. Online forums like Reddit were filled with their grievances about problems cashing in their Bitcoins.
They are largely anonymous and difficult to verify, but The Tyee has reviewed four lawsuits from users and spoken to three others who say they made withdrawals last year, but did not receive the money. Evan McCallum and Tomasz Swiecki, who both sued ezBtc, said the company sent them cheques that bounced. McCallum said the company subsequently went uncontactable. Godwin said that when people tried to press the issue, Smillie would lash out with legal threats.
According to court records and interviews, three claimants ended up reaching agreements with Smillie that restrict what they say publicly. Two said Smillie had threatened to sue them if they talked about their concerns.
But as approached its end, Smillie was again at the receiving end of a lawsuit. His own employee sued him.
It is unclear if Joseph Goldlust is the same person as ezBtc employee Yossi Goldlust, mentioned in at least three user lawsuits as a person handling payments. Yossi is commonly short for Yosef, the Hebrew form of Joseph. Smillie is often both the public face and the point of contact for customer service at ezBtc.
As the accusations of withdrawal delays mounted, his personal life was increasingly thrown into the fore. You will need to verify your identity in order to make fiat currency deposits and withdrawals. You can do this by sending in the requested identification and verifying your source of funds. It will also display an optional QR code that you can scan to quickly and easily fund your account.
Your bitcoin and Canadian dollar balances can be found at the top of the page in your navigation bar. Keep in mind the minimum and maximum order size when entering this amount. Once the ordered has been completed, the coins will be stored directly in your balances, where you can then request a withdrawal if you choose. Optional, only if you want us to follow up with you.
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Pros Low fees and competitive commissions Multiple payment options Bitcoin concierge service Open exchange option High limits for some funding methods Bitcoin ATM network. Cons Some services restricted to Vancouver area Transfer times impacted by security measures. Andrew Munro. Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade. Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks — they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity.
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Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed. Cons Not all services are available outside of Vancouver or Toronto Some of the security measures impact transfer times. How do I fund Canadian dollars to my ezBtc account?