In brief

  • After replying to one of Trump's tweets an engineer received $69 million.
  • But he never provided any ventilators.
  • His Twitter history shows he was a fan of bizarre crypto project Initiative Q.

A man who tweeted to President Trump that he could deliver ventilators to hospitals received $69 million just days later. But he never had any ventilators to begin with. And you wouldn’t believe it, but he’s into cryptocurrency.

As Buzzfeed reported, President Trump tweeted, on March 27, that General Motors should open its factories to start making ventilators, saying, “START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!”

Engineer Yaron Oren-Pines responded to the tweet, claiming he could supply ICU ventilators—asking for someone to call him urgently. Three days later, New York state sent him $69.1 million. It was the New York Department of Health’s largest single payment towards coronavirus relief efforts.

After no ventilators were produced, New York state officials terminated the contract and are currently trying to get the money back.

The crypto conundrum

Perhaps the New York Department of Health should have checked Oren-Pines’ Twitter feed first.

“Obviously, his only other tweets were about crypto…” tweeted Eric Turner, research analyst at Messari.

In particular, Oren-Pines was tweeting about an obscure crypto idea that had all the hallmarks of a pyramid scheme, called Initiative Q. The entire project was based around the idea of using referral links to get other people into the project—and the earlier you got in, the greater the share of the tokens to be created.

At the time, Oren-Pines was a big supporter. He tweeted eight times about the project between February 2019 and January 2019, encouraging people to sign up through his referral link. He has since locked his Twitter profile so his tweets can’t be seen.

In the end, Initiative Q never materialized—much like those ventilators.

It’s the latest in a series of bizarre online occurrences where the person involved just happens to be a crypto fan. When Elon Musk tweeted a paper about a coronavirus cure, the lawyer who had faked his credentials to promote the paper had, of course, invented a blockchain platform. And just the other day, the evangelical pastor spreading the conspiracy theory that 5G caused the coronavirus, was, of course, a fan of cryptocurrency.

Is crypto to blame?