A man who last week invested $20 of his own money into a little-known cryptocurrency has seen his investment soar to $167 trillion in value in the space of a few days.
When Chris Williamson, a student from Manchester, Georgia, put $20 into cryptocurrency Rocket Bunny, he didn't expect to become a trillionaire overnight. Yet, temporarily at least, that appeared to be what happened.
The nursing school student had dabbled in cybercurrencies for around eight months and invested in the currency on June 15. On June 16, its value had soared to more than $1.4 trillion. When Newsweek spoke with Williamson on Monday, it was worth $167 trillion.
Coinbase—the world's leading cryptocurrency trading app—doesn't support Rocket Bunny directly, but the currency can be bought using the Uniswap platform, and then converted back to another currency like Bitcoin or Ethereum, which can be converted on Coinbase for hard currency and withdrawn.
Coinbase confirmed to Newsweek Williamson's trillions were not reflective of the actual amount of cryptocurrency he had. The company said his "trillionaire status" was in fact was due to a "display error," and that its staff in California were working to resolve the issue.
However, Williamson has accused Coinbase has given him "the cold shoulder" and says it has been a painful process seeing his balance soar up to 16 figures—while at the same time being prohibited from withdrawing any of his money.
A spokeswoman from Coinbase told Newsweek that Williamson has been prohibited from withdrawing his funds as it wasn't the actual amount.
"It's very frustrating and gut-wrenching to have to look at something like that every day honestly. When I first saw it all I could think about was all the good I could try to do in this world with just a fraction of it," Williamson told Newsweek.
"It's hard to look at, but I'm just trying my best to keep a sense of humor about it and hold my head up. This has been a challenging situation but the media attention has brought very humble, loving, people with words of encouragement into my life and I'm blessed beyond measure for that."
Williamson says that the staff at Rocket Bunny have been speaking with him daily for the last three days and were "very genuine and helpful," but Coinbase will not respond to his emails or tweets. He said that the Rocket Bunny team had tried contacting Coinbase multiple times and they are not responding to them either.
"Coinbase has completely given me the cold shoulder and will not respond to emails or tweets, they have not updated me on the situation and my account is still fluctuating in price but up to $167 trillion showing in my wallet," he said.
"This isn't a Rocket Bunny issue, it is strictly on Coinbase in my opinion."
However, Coinbase did end up responding to a tweet by Williamson on June 16.
Addressing the Coinbase accounts, Williamson joked: "I'm gonna need someone to explain what the heck is going on and then write me a check. I got a mega yacht shaped like a penguin on standby. #cryptotrillionaire"
Two days later Coinbase Support responded, saying: "Sorry @Christo44044658 - the penguin yacht may have to wait - our team is aware of the display error causing this wishful thinking for some ERC20s. They're working to fix - in the meantime, trading the asset will reflect its current market value.
But Williamson said that they only responded to him after his story received widespread media attention.
Newsweek has contacted Coinbase for comment on Williamson's allegations.
Williamson said he has since put more money into Rocket Bunny to see whether it would resolve the balance issue.
"At the moment I had purchased more just to see if maybe that would fix this issue and was able to send it over to the Coinbase wallet from Uniswap, but the price just jumped to like 187 trillion," he said, adding he had now invested around $500 into the cryptocurrency.
He has tried many times to move that currency and convert it into Ethereum.
"As far as moving the coin out I was able to move ETH but every time I try to move the rocket bunny coin it malfunctions and refuses to let me. Again no help from Coinbase. It's like I've been blacklisted."