Software Engineer Loses Life Savings in Quadriga Imbroglio

The 30-year-old software engineer just wanted to save a few bucks on transfer fees after deciding to move to Vancouver.

Software Engineer Loses Life Savings in Quadriga Imbroglio
Tong Zou. (Courtesy: Tong Zou)

(Bloomberg) -- Tong Zou wasn’t a stereotypical crypto bro bent on accumulating flashy trophies such as Lamborghinis when he deposited his life savings into Quadriga CX’s digital exchange.

The 30-year-old software engineer, who’d been working in California for seven years, just wanted to save a few bucks on transfer fees after deciding to move to Vancouver. It proved to be a C$560,000 ($422,000) mistake.

Software Engineer Loses Life Savings in Quadriga Imbroglio

"It’s all my savings, so I’m just living on what little I have left and trying to start over," Zou said in a phone interview Friday from Vancouver, where he has been living out of an AirBnB for the past month. “It pretty much took everything away from me."

Zou is one of Quadriga’s 115,000 clients who are out of luck after the sudden death of the firm’s founder left C$190 million in cryptocurrencies protected by his passwords unretrievable. The exchange has halted operations and was granted protection from creditors on Feb. 5 in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

Zou considers himself "one of the largest affected individual users" -- according to an affidavit he filed this week as part of the court proceedings. He bought Bitcoin in the U.S. and transferred it over to Quadriga CX and immediately sold it for Canadian dollars, which was supposed to be deposited into his Canadian bank account. That was in October. He’s still waiting.

“I wasn’t using it for trading -- I just wanted to move my money over to my Canadian bank account," Zou said in the interview. “What I didn’t know was that my withdrawal would be pending or incomplete and it never got deposited in my bank account. I’ve been waiting four months so far."

“A lot of other people are in the same situation as me," he said.

That money was going to help him settle back in Canada, after being away for years. Zou, who grew up in Orillia, Ontario, had moved to the U.S. after graduating from the University of Toronto in 2011. He spent the next seven years working as a software engineer around San Francisco at companies including BitTorrent Inc., Walmart Inc. and Spigit Inc.

“I was going to use that money for a deposit on an apartment, but now I can’t do that anymore," Zou said. “And now I’m currently searching for a job, so it’s kind of a bad time for me."

Zou has been coordinating with other affected users online through the Telegram messaging app, and turned to Bennett Jones LLP and McInnes Cooper to represent him and others in Quadriga’s creditor protection proceedings in Halifax.

"I just got caught up in this at the wrong time, I guess."

To contact the reporter on this story: Doug Alexander in Toronto at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at, ;David Scanlan at, ;Jeremy Herron at, Dave Liedtka, Jacqueline Thorpe

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