Crypto clients beg for money following lender crash
An Irish man in danger of losing his farm. An American with thoughts of suicide. A widow of 84 years lost life savings: People caught in the merger of crypto lender Celsius plead for their money back.
Hundreds of letters have been sent to the judge supervising the company’s multi-billion dollar bankruptcy, full of anger, shame, despair, and, often, regret.
“I knew there were risks,” said one client who did not sign the letter. “It seemed a valuable risk.”
Celsius and its CEO Alex Mashinsky had charged the platform as a safe place for people to drop their cryptocurrencies in exchange for high interest, while the enterprise lent and invested such deposits.
But as the value of highly volatile cryptocurrencies has declined — bitcoin alone has lost more than 60 percent since November– the company experienced increasing difficulties until it froze withdrawals in mid-June.
The company owed $4.7 billion to its users, according to court filings earlier this month, and the end of the game is not clear.
The letters – posted on an online public registry – come from all over the world and relate to the tragic results of users’ money being frozen.
From this single mother who works hard in Texas, struggling with unpaid bills, to the teacher in India with all her hard-earned cash deposited in degrees Celsius. “I think I can talk to most of us when I say I feel betrayed, shameful, depressed, angry,” wrote a client who signed their letter E.L.
Though the letters vary in their level of sophistication about the world of cryptography — from self-styled novices to all-in-one evangelists …and the monetary implications vary from a few hundred dollars to seven figures, almost everyone agrees on one thing.
“I’ve been a loyal customer of Celsius since 2019 and I feel completely lied to Alex Mashinsky,” one client wrote that AFP does not identify himself to protect his privacy. “Alex would talk about how Celsius is safer than banks.”
Many of the letters point to the AMA (Ask Mashinsky Anything) of the online CEO cats as the key to their trust in him and the platform which presented itself as steady for up to a few days before freezing user funds.
Repeated assurances prior to fall – Celsius has one of the best risk management teams in the world. Our security team and infrastructure are unparalleled,” the firm wrote on June 7th.
“We’ve already gone through cryptography slowdowns (this is our fourth!). Celsius is ready,” the firm says.
The message also stated that the company had the reserves to pay its obligations and that withdrawals were being treated as normal.
A client, who said he had $32,000 in cryptography locked at Celsius, noted the impact.
“Until the end, the retail investor received the insurance,” the client wrote to the judge.
But this changed rapidly, and on June 12, Celsius announced the freeze: ‘We are taking this step today to put Celsius in a better position to honor, over time, its withdrawal commitments.”
Certain customers received the news in a message from the company.
“By the time I finished my message,” I had collapsed on the floor with my head in my hands and fought the tears,” wrote a man who had approximately $50,000 in assets with Celsius.
Clients who said they were the hardest hit, including a man who said he placed $525,000 of a government loan on Celsius, revealed that they were considering suicide.
Others reported intense stress, sleep deprivation, and a profound sense of shame for investing their retirement savings or their children’s education money into a platform that was far riskier than they knew.
“As an unregulated private company, Celsius is under no disclosure obligation,” the Washington Post said.
Celsius did not respond to a request for input regarding client letters.
For people like an 84-year-old woman who saved only about $30,000 in cryptography on Celsius for a month, their hope lies in going bankrupt.
“It’s not uncommon for people to get out of something like that with zero,” said Don Coker, an expert witness on banking and finance.
“Obviously, I feel sorry for anyone who loses an investment like this, but it’s just something where they have to be risk-conscious,” he said.