Mysterious Killings in Crypto

Death standing in front of floating crypto coins with a drawing of a skull.

What happens when you add billions of dollars in unrealized capital gains, a highly unregulated global industry, a disastrous bear market, and a highly imaginative online community? 

Well, one might say you get loads of mysterious deaths. And that seems to be precisely what is happening in crypto.

The Calm Before the Deaths

Crypto used to be a trillion-dollar industry. In late 2021, almost everyone in crypto was making money. Bitcoin was reaching unbelievable all-time highs, and venture capitalists were throwing money at it. 

Web 3.0 project pitches were a dime a dozen, and enthusiasts built everything from move-to-earn projects to sleep-to-earn protocols. Crypto was a wonderland of growth and wealth. 

But everything changed when the bear market attacked. 

Projects that were doing millions in revenue suddenly started doing thousands. VCs stopped picking up the calls of founders. Protocols that depended on high market trust started combusting. And everything else went down the drain. 

Before long, the market capitalization of crypto fell off a cliff. From a market cap of $2 trillion, crypto went down to $800 billion. Crypto had grown cold as quickly as it had grown hot. And a lot of people were left holding the bag. 

Then the deaths started. The first death was Nikolai Mushegian. According to the police, he’d been swept away by sea currents. But earlier that day, Mushegian had alleged that powerful forces wanted him dead. 

The second death was Tiantian Kullander. He was Amber Group’s CEO, and he passed away in his sleep. At the time of his death, Kullander was just thirty years old.  

And then there was the third death. This time it was Vyacheslav Taran. Taran, who’d invested heavily in blockchain projects, suddenly found himself kicking the bucket midair. Cause of death? Helicopter crash. 

Conspiracy theorists immediately started weaving their stories about these deaths. Some argued that they were suicides due to significant crypto losses, while others argued that they were a sign of institutions fighting back against crypto. 

How accurate are these conspiracies? Did some external forces cause these deaths, or was nature just playing an awful prank? No one knows. But we can unravel them and see if there’s anything worth looking for. 

Nikolai Mushegian

In the early hours of October 28, Nikolai Mushegian’s followers saw a disturbing tweet. His tweet said that intelligence agencies were after him and wanted him dead.

At the time, Mushegian was a DeFi developer passionate about ending centralized banking. He was an early developer for Maker DAO, the biggest DeFi protocol in crypto. Maker DAO is also a big player in creating stablecoins, essentially crypto replacements for fiat currency. 

Mushegian was also somewhat wealthy as he lived in a $6 million beach house in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

A few hours after making that tweet, a surfer discovered Mushegian’s body in the waves. He was fully clothed and had his wallet with him. When news of his death broke, the internet was awash with conspiracy theories. And it’s easy to understand why. 

For a long time, Mushegian had railed against the centralized banking machine. Just a few weeks before his death, he’d called bankers freaks and argued that they only functioned via “debt and blackmail.” In the weeks leading up to his death, Mushegian also made a tweet saying that his future was very much in stone. He said he would either be “suicided by the CIA,” “CIA brain damage slave asset,” or the “worst nightmare” of the people who messed with him.

The reactions to Mushegian’s death were twofold. Members of the online crypto community immediately argued that something was wrong with his death. The CEO of Spankchain, Ameen Soleimani, immediately tweeted that he was pretty sure that Mushegian had been murdered. Soleimani reasoned that Mushegian could have died or drowned on any day of the year, but to do it on the day he tweeted about his death was too suspicious. 

Online sentiment was with Soleimani, as Mushegian’s original tweet about getting framed went viral. Before long, it had 30 thousand likes as people began theorizing about Mushegian’s death.

According to the San Juan Police, there was no evidence of foul play in Mushegian’s death. Outlets like the New York Post also quoted several of Mushegian’s close associates saying that he was a very paranoid person. As such, his warnings and tweets may have been fueled by extreme paranoia. 

We may never know the true cause of Mushegian’s death, but what we do know is that the conditions around it are certainly mysterious. 

Tiantian Kullander

On November 23, 2022, the crypto world got a huge shock when it was reported that Tiantian Kullander had passed away in his sleep. Kullander was just 30 years old and was one of the most accomplished young names in the crypto ecosystem. 

Kullander was the head of Amber Group, a financial services company that operated in the digital asset community. His death came at a time when the company was on the verge of raising about $100 million. 

Before launching Amber, Kullander had worked with finance giants like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. He’d launched Amber Group with help from his former colleagues at both companies. Aside from being the founder of Amber Group, Kullander also sat on the board of Fnatic, an eSports company, and was a founding member of Rook Labs. 

Kullander was a very private man, so very little is known about his life. He also didn’t have a very expressive social media presence, so his death was a shock to many. It was such a shock that people started wondering whether there was foul play involved.

Amber Group did little to dispel the rumors. Their press release merely confirmed that Kullander had died and that his family was distraught at memes of his death. The release said little else and went on to praise him as a well-recognized pioneer for crypto. 

Kullander’s unexpected death at the young age of 30 spurred conspiracies amongst anti-vaccination activists. These activists claim that the Covid-19 vaccines lead to more unexplained deaths, and this death was just another weapon in their arsenal. 

However, it’s important to remember that there’s no reason to suggest that a vaccine caused this death. We don’t even know whether Kullander was vaccinated or not. Critically, no one even knows whether he was suffering from an undisclosed illness before dying. All that is known is what Amber group chose to release, which was very little.

Vyacheslav Taran

Russian elites have always had a bad case of self-defenestration. 2022 has been a terrible year for these elites as many developed fatal cases of “pushed-out-of-the-window-titis.” But Vyacheslav Taran wasn’t one of these elites. He wasn’t pushed out of a window. Instead, he had a helicopter crash. 

While the Russian embassy said that Taran’s death was an unfortunate accident, Ukrainian authorities have said that is far from the truth. 

Taran wasn’t just a Russian elite. He was a crypto billionaire who was based in Monaco. He was well-known in Monaco’s financial circles and a renowned philanthropist. He was also the founder of the Forex club and president of the Libertex group, a trading and investment platform. 

But according to UNIAN, a Ukrainian news agency, this was all a front. They claim he wasn’t just an effable crypto billionaire who donated money to charities. He was also a money laundering mule for the Russian oligarchy and did this through crypto. 

While there have been many claims about foul play in Taran’s death, there’s yet to be any conclusive proof put forward by anyone. The circumstances surrounding the crash itself are ordinary. 

Taran boarded the Monacair H130 helicopter from Lausanne, Switzerland, and was on his way back to Monaco. He was supposed to be joined by another VIP on the trip, but they canceled at the last minute. The crash happened in Villefranche-sur-Me, a town in France. Everyone in the helicopter died, including the experienced pilot flying it. 

Perhaps the only mysterious thing surrounding the deaths was the crash was that it was in good weather. The deputy public prosecutor who visited the scene also refused to rule out foul play. 

Meanwhile, Taran’s wife Olga wrote a heartfelt letter to journalists to stop spreading lies that suggest her husband was linked to the shady business of Russian oligarchs.

On the Flipside

  • While these deaths have truly sounded mysterious, they could have very simple explanations. Importantly, there’s no critical evidence that proves that foul play was involved in any of these deaths. 

Why You Should Care

If there’s a scourge of mysterious deaths in crypto, it’s important to investigate them and discover the truth. 

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Victor Fabusola

Victor Fabusola is a Blockchain & Crypto Content Writer. He excels in crafting long-form educational guides, opinion pieces, and reviews in niches such as DeFi, NFTs, and Web 3.0. Outside of his work at DailyCoin, he loves conscious hip-hop and classical music and engaging in intellectually stimulating conversations with his friends.