Mt. Gox launches call center for frustrated Bitcoin holders

If your customers have potentially lost millions in Bitcoin, at least let them talk to someone.

Last week, Bitcoin traders on Mt. Gox suffered not only confusion and anger as the trading post went offline and the founder appeared to vanish, but eventually learned that their hard-won Bitcoin had been stolen.

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The digital currency exchange lost 750,000 Bitcoins belonging to customers -- worth $446 million -- and roughly 100,000 of its own stock, which led to Mt. Gox closing its doors. The loss was said to be due to system error, but it later emerged that cyberattacks and exploiting of the system systematically caused the theft.

On 28 February, Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy protection, revealing that the exchange's debt rate is roughly twice the value of its assets -- owning up to debt of approximately $63.8 million.

Following Mt. Gox's filing, the Tokyo-based exchange posted a notice on its website stating that a call center has launched to respond to customer inquiries. Provided in Japanese and English, the update says that the call center is available 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Japanese time zone, Monday through Friday.

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The Mt. Gox bitcoin debacle: Bankruptcy filed, customer bitcoin lost

UPDATE: Mt. Gox has closed the bitcoin exchange and filed for bankruptcy in Japan.

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In related news, The Daily Beast reports that a former employee of Mt. Gox affirmed that the collapse of the Bitcoin exchange was probably not due to criminal fraud, but the "result of poor management, faulty accounting, and system bugs that went unfixed many months."

The anonymous ex-employee told the publication:

"Mt. Gox was a dysfunctional organization. Nobody was doing accounting reconciliation and there was an exploitable fault in the transaction system that allowed people to get paid twice -- or in other words, withdraw more or less the same amount of Bitcoins two times.

Think of it this way -- if Bitcoins were like frozen hamburger patties being served at a diner with a touchscreen menu, someone figured out that by tapping the screen twice you could get two hamburgers for the price of one. One day someone at the diner went to the freezer and realized that they were completely out of hamburgers -- and they'd only served half the customers they thought they had."