‘Pharma Bro’ or Barron? Debate on brains behind Donald Trump crypto coin rages

Trump campaign has been aggressively courting cryptocurrency industry in recent days ahead of November election

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Friday 21 June 2024 00:03 BST
How Donald Trump Went From Selling NFTs To Declaring Himself The 'Crypto President'

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Donald Trump has been aggressively courting the cryptocurrency community as part of his 2024 campaign, including meeting with bitcoin miners, fundraising in Silicon Valley, and opening his campaign to crypto donations last month, a first for a major party candidate.

Now, Trump, who in 2019 called bitcoin a currency “based on thin air,” is embroiled in his first cryptos scandal, amid allegations that his youngest son Barron—or maybe disgraced pharma exec Martin “Pharma Bro” Shkreli—is behind a cryptocurrency “meme coin” called DJT, the same letters as the former president’s initials.

Earlier this week, vague rumors began circulating that the coin, which launched in May, was going to be the former president’s “official token,” sending the value of the crypto coin surging.

As of Thursday afternoon, DJT’s value had soared by triple-digit percentages, reaching a market capitalization of over $150m.

The run on DJT, which shares a three-letter abbreviation with stock in the former president’s actual media company, inspired a feverish search for whether Trump or his campaign was behind the crypto effort.

On Tuesday, Arkham, a market intelligence firm, offered a $150,000 bounty for the person who could prove who was behind DJT.

A day later, the company announced that a crypto analyst using the X screenname ZachXBT had submitted “definitive evidence” that Shkreli, who was released from prison in 2022 for a series of fraud charges related to his time running two hedge funds, was the brains behind the operation.

The analyst shared screenshots of what he said were direct messages with Shkreli, in which the former pharmaceutical investor, known for jacking up the price of cancer drugs, claimed, “I have over 1000 pieces of evidence I created it with Barron,” a reference to Trump’s son.

ZachBXT also claimed the coin was linked to a Discord user named Cameron Roxborough, who claimed to be a classmate and friend of Trump’s son.

A LinkedIn profile under that name shows Roxborough attending the same Florida school from which Barron Trump recently graduated.

After the bounty announcement, Shkreli claimed he created the coin after being approached by Roxborough on behalf of Barron Trump, and that the former president approved of the idea.

The investor said in a live X Spaces discussion that he didn’t have any personal incentives in the coin, and created the product to “see where it would go,” and that “everything” made on the scheme would go to Barron and the Trump family.

“I can prove Trump and/or Trump family involvement,” he later wrote on X.

The Trump family and campaign have not publicly commented on the DJT coin.

The Independent has contacted the Trump campaign and Roxborough for comment.

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