Dogecoin was not supposed to be taken seriously.
The cryptocurrency based on the do ge meme was originally started for just for a laugh. It attracted lighthearted individuals who were more interested in cracking jokes than in getting rich quick, who preferred to donate coins for causes both silly and serious than to hoard troves of digital treasure.
But its greatest strength was also its greatest weakness. The dizzying rise in popularity made Dogecoin a target. Its strong sense of community made it vulnerable. For a predator, Dogecoin was simply irresistible.
Now, a little more than a year after the alternative cryptocurrency exploded onto the market, a man accused of stealing as much as $4 million worth of digital currency after taking over the online exchange platform MintPal has likely been arrested in the UK, according to multiple reports. But like so much in the bizarre saga of Dogecoin, the truth is difficult to pin down.
Dogecoin was born out of a joke by Jackson Palmer, a product manager at Adobe. Poking fun at the abundance of altcoins (cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin) erupting in the wake of Bitcoin’s popularity, Palmer cheekily tweeted back in November 2013 that he was investing in a fictitious new currency called Dogecoin. “Pretty sure it’s the next big thing,” he joked.
Then, on a lark (and with some help from Billy Markus, a software developer at IBM), Palmer turned the idea into a real currency, branded with the gentle face of the shiba inu and lots and lots of Comic Sans. With the help of Reddit, the “joke currency” exploded. After just a few months, the market was worth $60 million, according to the Sydn ey Morning Herald. But over the course of the next year, thousands of dollars worth of dogecoin (and millions of dollars in other cryptocurrencies) would be lost, with users blaming a man who went by the name of Alex Green.