The true story behind ‘Bitconned’
(Credit: Netflix)

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The true story behind ‘Bitconned’

Bitconned, the latest Netflix documentary directed by Bryan Storkel, has captured global attention.

It has secured its place as the ninth most-watched film on Netflix worldwide. The documentary has also shot up to the top ten list in as many as 33 countries, from Canada and the UK to Australia.

Bitconned delves into the cryptocurrency craze of the late 2010s, exposing the intricate web of deceit spun by the founders of Centra Tech, a crypto company that soared to prominence before its fraudulent practices were exposed.

Read on to know more about the true story about Bitconned if watching the documentary has raised more questions, which, considering Centra Tech co-founder Ray Trapani tweeted, “This doc only scratches the surface. Hard to cut 100s of hours of film into 1.5 hours,” is to be expected.

What is Bitconned about?

Bitconned takes viewers inside the rise and fall of Centra Tech, a cryptocurrency venture dreamt up by inexperienced South Florida hustlers with a penchant for deception. 

The documentary explores the unregulated landscape of the cryptocurrency market in the late 2010s, detailing how Centra Tech managed to exploit it successfully, raising millions of unregulated fundraising dollars. Through original interviews with key players, victims, and investigators, Bitconned sheds light on the ease with which the illusion of a legitimate enterprise can be created within the crypto world.

Who is Ray Trapani?

Ray Trapani was one of the co-founders of Centra Tech. Alongside Sam Sharma and Robert Farkas, Trapani played a key role in establishing Centra Tech in 2017. The company claimed to be raising funds through an initial coin offering (ICO) for a cryptocurrency called Centra, and it promised investors a revolutionary debit card that would allow users to spend various virtual currencies in real time.

Centra Tech gained attention and popularity, in part due to celebrity endorsements from figures like Floyd Mayweather Jr and DJ Khaled.

“We didn’t know anything about this fucking business,” Trapani commented in the documentary about their scam. “But it didn’t matter at all. We lied, we cheated, we made millions of dollars.” 

What happened to Ray Trapani and Centra Tech?

Investigations by journalists, including Nathaniel Popper from The New York Times, began to scrutinise the company’s claims, and the fraudulent nature of Centra Tech’s operations was exposed. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a complaint against Centra, leading to legal consequences for Trapani and his co-conspirators.

DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather were held accountable for promoting Centra to their millions of followers. The scam was elaborate as Centra had everything from phoney LinkedIn profiles and apps to a fake CEO, who was killed off in a fake car crash.

The SEC filed a complaint, leading to convictions for Trapani, Sam Sharma, and Robert Farkas. Trapani cooperated with authorities, pleading guilty to multiple counts and receiving a sentence of time served.

Where is Ray Trapani now?

Contrary to expectations of imprisonment, the closing scenes of Bitconned reveal that Trapani has managed to avoid jail time by cooperating with federal authorities. Since the collapse of Centra Tech, he has married, become a father, and bought a house. Trapani took to Twitter to deny claims that Netflix paid him for the documentary and refuted claims of establishing a new loan company.

However, Trapani’s post-Centra Tech life involves working on a book and a podcast. Despite calls for a film adaptation, he acknowledges the scepticism of publishers toward former criminals.