veryone who is old enough knows where they were on 9/11. Curtis Ting was 13 in 2001 and living in Vancouver, where his father (now a psychiatrist) was studying theology. “The attack on the Twin Towers inspired me to want to do something for national security,” he says. Now he has gone from guarding the nation as an investigator for the FBI to vanquishing cybercrime from the hallowed halls of Bitcoin as managing director, Europe, of Kraken, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges.
Ting was born in Seattle to Taiwanese-American parents. When he went to a college in Washington DC to study strategic intelligence, he found that his professors were former G-men. “They tried to put me off,” he says, but he went ahead and interned at the FBI straight after graduation and then went full time. “The expectation among Asian-Americans is that you become a doctor or a dentist or a lawyer, giving back to your local community. They’re not that prevalent in government. This was my act of youthful rebellion – to join national security.”
He spent 10 years with the Bureau. There are various things I’m not allowed to say about Curtis Ting, lest I trigger a drama. I can’t even use the word… ah, but I’m not allowed to use that word. Suffice to say that Ting rose rapidly through the ranks. He stresses that the FBI is nothing like the Hollywood fantasy. Unlike, say, Kevin Costner or Sean Connery (in The Untouchables) he didn’t generally pull out a machine gun or shotgun and start blasting. “If you want to put bad guys away, you have to do things by the book,” he says. You have to build your case slowly and surely and “evidentiary preservation” is critical. “There’s a lot of paperwork,” he says.
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