The crypto earth was sent reeling in May well when the Terra stablecoin and sister coin Luna collapsed to near zero, wiping out $50 billion in benefit and spreading contagion by means of the business. Investors ended up remaining indignant and on the lookout to blame something—or someone—but the forces at the rear of the crash have been difficult to discern.
In an marketplace missing meaningful regulation and corporate transparency, these mysteries often go unsolved. In the circumstance of Terra, however, an anonymous sleuth who phone calls himself FatManTerra took to Twitter and served expose what transpired—including dodgy habits by the token’s founder, Do Kwon, who’s at present the subject matter of an Interpol warrant and a global manhunt.
FatManTerra is the just hottest in a series of nameless Twitter watchdogs—others include ZachXBT, BitFinexed, and Cobie (who has since uncovered his id)—who are encouraging to expose unsavory actions and bring accountability to the field. Fortune spoke to FatManTerra about when this started off, who he is, and how he does it.
Who is FatManTerra?
Fortune attained out to the nameless sleuth by using Twitter immediate information, inviting him to describe his investigation into Terra. After a couple messages back again and forth, he agreed to converse by Zoom furnished his digicam could continue being off.
In the job interview, FatManTerra explained himself as an “average middle-course guy” between 20 and 35 decades previous who lives in the U.K. and who’s labored in the crypto business as a job manager for some time. He reported his recent employer is informed of the account and has even allowed him to get the job done less several hours so he can commit more time to it.
He discussed he had invested seriously in the Terra ecosystem, and misplaced 30% to 40% of his lifetime personal savings in the collapse. Due to the fact the generation of the account, the only payment he’s acquired is a foods shipping and delivery voucher worthy of 60 lbs, which he promptly blew on a pineapple pizza and some sushi.
“Someone required to ship me income, which I really don’t typically take, but they insisted so I informed them they could mail me a Deliveroo gift card…because I appreciate foods,” FatManTerra defined.
This adore of meals is largely what motivated his Twitter handle.
“It was intended to be a throwaway account, so I made it have a foolish name that my friends can giggle at. ‘FatMan’ simply because I’m a excess fat guy, ideal?” he explained to Fortune. “Some persons come across it astonishing that I’m actually 150 kilograms,” or about 330 pounds.
FatManTerra first made use of the pseudonym on the Terra discussion board, Agora, to suggest a way of bettering the Terra blockchain. The proposal started to achieve traction so he made a Twitter account with the identical name.
For a period of time, he’d basically tweet his thoughts on Terra, largely criticizing Kwon. Small-degree whistleblowers commenced to solution him with stories as he obtained a little Twitter pursuing, but he stored these strategies to himself—until an staff from trading business Leap Crypto approached FatManTerra with an explosive allegation.
This man or woman claimed that Bounce bailed out Terra in May perhaps 2021 in get to prop up Terra’s slowly and gradually failing company model, which relied on fiscal engineering gimmicks relatively than precise reserves to back its stablecoin. FatManTerra tweeted the allegations and commented that this was “likely to be the biggest crypto fraud of all time.”
The thread blew up, and FatManTerra’s follower depend jumped from 14,000 to 56,000 in a 7 days. It also served as a beacon to the world of crypto that he could be trusted to expose Terra’s dirty tricks.
Other recommendations poured in, letting FatManTerra to expose other deceptions fundamental Terra, which include fraudulent Chai marketplace volume and Kwon quietly cashing out $3.9 billion really worth of the stablecoin in advance of it collapsed fully.
‘One dude in his room’
As a consequence of the account blowing up, FatManTerra started out acquiring up to five immediate messages a day from men and women claiming to be whistleblowers. These folks wished to remain nameless and quite possibly observed a part of them selves in this faceless Twitter account.
“My principle [of why people reached out] is that they know I’m just one particular male who isn’t backed by any pressure, nor am I related with any information web pages,” FatManTerra advised Fortune. “I really do not have any editor to chat to, I’m not funded by some trade, I’m actually just 1 dude in his place.”
This deficiency of a formal journalistic structure has enabled FatManTerra, but may well be also a cause for concern. Most journalists and publications have a superior standard for verification when whistleblowers technique them due to the fact of the danger of authorized motion and reputational harm. This is considerably less of an issue for nameless Twitter accounts.
“In the early days, I just rolled with it. If a person messaged me, I’d look at their LinkedIn to make guaranteed he’s legit. The tales had been incredibly comprehensive, precise, and matched up with what I already knew,” FatManTerra claimed. “But as time went on, I experienced to produce a vetting approach. Now I need to see that you’re a doxxed, verified worker. And, if you inform me one thing ridiculous, I have to individually think it to be legitimate and have it cross-referenced by two or 3 distinctive resources.”
As the weeks handed and he listened to from more whistleblowers, FatManTerra started out to feel that working the Twitter account was a moral obligation—it was no for a longer period about just his individual losses.
“In crypto, we preach about transparency, but quite a few of these firms are truly very opaque. It is crucial that people today from these corporations occur forward to expose any wrongdoings,” he explained. “A whole lot of ex-employees are fearful for their lives when it arrives to going public with their facts. They are very worried because they see Do Kwon as a authentic psychopath.”
At the peak of FatManTerra’s Twitter reputation, he suggests paranoia started off to established in and he did not depart his household for a few to 4 months, fearing he could be focused for reprisal. He has because made the decision these kinds of fears were being overblown, but he continue to does not want to operate the account forever.
“Once Do Kwon is introduced to justice and there is some form of fulfilling resolution to all of this, I’m unquestionably likely to be posting significantly significantly less and focus on actual-lifetime stuff,” FatManTerra explained. “I need to have to return to the serious entire world.”
“Once Do Kwon is introduced to justice and there is some form of satisfying resolution to all of this, I’m unquestionably heading to be publishing considerably considerably less and target on true-existence stuff,” FatManTerra mentioned. “I require to return to the genuine entire world.”
Several lawsuits are in the performs towards Kwon—there’s even an arrest warrant for him in South Korea—and FatManTerra is participating in a function in some of these lawsuits in the U.S. and in Singapore.
“I’m striving to assistance out the proof facet as a lot as doable,” FatManTerra advised Fortune. “I will be a plaintiff on a few of the lawsuits, which will involve my true name—but I’ll be mixing in with the crowd, really considerably.”
Kwon, in a mid-September Twitter thread, denied that he was “‘on the run’ or everything equivalent,” including that “any authorities company that has shown fascination to connect, we are in whole cooperation and we don’t have something to hide.”