The Bitcoin-trading website Mt.Gox was taken offline late Monday, putting at risk millions of dollars put there by investors who gambled on the digital currency. The exchange alsodeleted all of its tweets, and Mt.Gox CEO Mark Karpeles resigned from the Bitcoin Foundation's board of directors on Sunday.
The news frightened Bitcoin investors elsewhere, knocking the price down about 3% to $490 -- its lowest level since November.
For now, there's no telling what's behind the shutdown. Mt.Gox did not respond to requests for comment.
However, an unverified document called "Crisis Strategy Draft" that is being circulated online claims Mt.Gox has lost 744,408 of its users' bitcoins, worth nearly $367 million. It also claims Mt.Gox is planning to rebrand itself as Gox.
Good luck with that "rebranding" after possibly losing hundreds of millions to digital theft. The safe, stateless currency of the future, right? Oh I know, it was all the NSA's fault, right?
By the time trading at Mt.Gox was halted entirely late Monday, the price of a Bitcoin there had dropped significantly, to $130. Meanwhile it was trading for more than four times that on other exchanges.
Late on Monday, several other Bitcoin exchanges sought to reassure investors and took a harder line with Mt. Gox.
"This tragic violation of the trust of users of Mt.Gox was the result of one company's abhorrent actions and does not reflect the resilience or value of Bitcoin and the digital currency industry," the groups said in a statement.
Everything is fine in the tulip bulb factory. Please continue to buy more tulip bulbs, and ignore the massive losses of millions!
At the corner of technology and economics is one of the oldest schemes in the book, folks.