Debunked: Satoshi Nakamoto, Founder of Bitcoin Arrested

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A fake article circulating claims that Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of Bitcoin, has been arrested and has had his real identity revealed.

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This bogus piece of writing comes from notorious satire site National Report. The fictitious write-up claims that Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Phoenix, Arizona. It is then stated that Satoshi Nakamoto’s real name is Paul Stephen Horner, a 36 year-old man and former National Security Agency (NSA) cryptologist.

Perhaps trying to see how far the limits of believability can be stretched, the article gradually becomes more and more outrageous. Included in the column are several false quotes attributed to a FBI spokesman named as Tom Downey and Bitcoin community president Benji Sakoia.

The feature concludes by offering a phone number where anonymous investigation tips can be submitted. In reality, this phone number belongs to the Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist church known for its controversial picketing.

Washington Post Interview with Paul Horner

In October of 2014, Caitlin Dewey of the Washington Post interviewed Paul Horner, a successful writer for National Report. The interview was in response to a viral hoax written by Horner which convinced nearly 5 million readers that British artist Banksy had been arrested, and that Banksy’s real name was Paul Horner. Apparently, Horner inserts his own name into many of the fake news stories that he has created for National Report. In addition, the picture of Horner attached to the Bitcoin article appears to be the same person pictured as Paul Horner in the Washington Post interview.

The National Report Bitcoin article seems to be an attempt to recreate the success of Horner’s past viral articles using the same formula.

National Report

National Report is a known satire site. At one time in the past, the site displayed a disclaimer which warned people of this, but the disclaimer has since been removed from visibility, and is now likely buried on a page devoted to site legal issues. The only visible disclaimer on the site at this time claims that it is not intended for those under age 18.


The founder of Bitcoin (Satoshi Nakamoto) has not been arrested, and his identity has not been revealed as Paul Horner. In reality, Paul Horner is a writer for satire site National Report where this fake article originated.

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