The Willy Report: proof of massive fraudulent trading activity at Mt. Gox, and how it has affected the price of Bitcoin
Somewhere in December 2013, a number of traders including myself began noticing suspicious bot behavior on Mt. Gox. Basically, a random number between 10 and 20 bitcoin would be bought every 5-10 minutes, non-stop, for at least a month on end until the end of January. The bot was dubbed “Willy” at some point, which is the name I’ll continue to use here. Since Willy was buying in such a recognizable pattern, I figured it would be easy to find in the Mt. Gox trading logs that were leaked about two months ago (there’s a torrent of the data here). However, the logs only went as far as November 2013; luckily, I was able to detect the buying pattern in the last few days of November. Below is a compiled log of its trades on the last two days of November (from the file “2013-11_mtgox_japan.csv”):
Some notes on how I obtained this data: first, I removed all exact duplicate entries from the log. As noted in an earlier analysis, trades that involved a user ID “THK” – whose likely role was to facilitate cross-currency trades – were erroneously duplicated in the logs. Second, since the log contains an entry for each individual user-to-user trade, I aggregated every pair of trades involving the same user that occurred within 2 seconds from each other, assuming these belonged to the same market buy/sell (2 seconds to account for trading engine lag, which God knows was sometimes enormous on Mt. Gox).
You may note that these are actually multiple user IDs (denoted with “UID”); Willy was not a single account, its trading activity was spread over many accounts. Perhaps this is why others had been unable to find him in the database: there were plenty of people who knew of its existence (in fact the OP of this thread allegedly coined the name “Willy”). I noticed here that all of these accounts had one thing in common; the User_Country and User_State field both had “??” as entry. This was unusual. Normally, these fields contained country/state FIPS codes (for verified users?), nothing (unverified users?), or “!!” (users who failed verification or suspicious users?).
So I went back and gathered all of these “??” users, aggregated their trades, and summed the amount of BTC that each of these accounts bought (they never performed a single sell). They seamlessly connected to each other: when one user became inactive, the next became active usually within a few hours. Their trading activity went back all the way to September 27th. The full record of trades you can see below:
Total BTC bought: 268132.73433409
Total USD spent: $111,770,744.48
So basically, each time, (1) an account was created, (2) the account spent some very exact amount of USD to market-buy coins ($2,500,000 was most common), (3) a new account was created very shortly after. Repeat. In total, a staggering ~$112 million was spent to buy close to 270,000 BTC – the bulk of which was bought in November. So if you were wondering how Bitcoin suddenly appreciated in value by a factor of 10 within the span of one month, well, this may be why. Not Chinese investors, not the Silkroad bust – these events may have contributed, but they may not have been main reason. But more on that later.