My name is Carlos Wallauer, I also go by my nickname, Kadu, but most people know me as Sherlock (@crazy_crypto) on Twitter. I'm from Brazil and here's my story (it might be a little long, but I swear it's interesting, or not, you decide):
I first entered the crypto world in March 2014. What brought me here? Well, I encountered a Doge mining (clicker) game on my Facebook (which was quite addictive) and at the bottom of the website you could credit the author if you had real dogecoins that apparently were worth some money! So I thought, that's COOL, how do I get these!?... which ended with me buying some on Mercado Livre, a platform similar to eBay in Brazil. I got a dogecoin address on an exchange and the seller sent those coins to me.
I had no idea what I was getting into.
I quickly discovered there were other cryptocurrencies. I researched a little, saw the crazy volatility of these coins on sites like coinmarketcap, read some bitcointalk topics for a week and spotted some hype for the first time on the MZC (Mazacoin) thread; they had just announced the coin was going to be the sovereign currency of a native American tribe, and I thought "this coin is going to go up in value". And it did, a LOT, over 1000% if I remember well! In a day!
1000% in a fucking day!
At this point I knew I HAD to buy some Bitcoin to start trading these alts since apparently I could spot some good ones and possibly make a shitload of money.
I bought 0.25 btc. 1 BTC was worth around $600 USD I think. That was almost my entire bank balance at the time. Yeah I was poor as fuck and it was irresponsible to invest so much of what I had, but I kinda could afford losing it. I had a stable family that could back me up if needed so back then it's what I did, it seemed like an opportunity I couldn't miss. Keep in mind, I saw many people doing similarly, investing almost all of their savings and going broke. Despair is not a nice thing to watch, so don't invest more than you can afford to lose.
First two days were slow. I had some small wins and losses, pretty much sideways. Actually putting my money in the game was scarier than just watching. But then it happened. I doubled my money at the end of the first week. It was unreal. I could do it. I was doing it. I wanted to research everything and find those gems. I created my twitter, started following people that seemed to know what they were talking about. Analyzed their trades for a while before entering, then started copying these guys when they seemed to do well most of the time. Started posting my own trades digging more and more into bitcointalk threads, getting some followers and getting to know more people around the community.
Perhaps the first scam I got sucked into. I was doing well, I think I had 2 BTC or something after a month or two. Ah, I almost forgot, after my first week I had already taken some profit out to fiat. I decided this was a smart thing to do so I could never lose what I had initially invested in. Ok, so, Zetacoin. I was still new and naive. They came with big promises. They were going to change the world, take cryptocurrencies to Africa, Kenya, empower the unbanked, stuff like that. I met some people that believed in them and seemed to know for sure they were legit so I started believing in them myself. Word was they had a big deal with a company there, but due to an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) they couldn't say anything yet. An announcement was promised to come soon™.
If something seems too good to be true...
Zetacoin had its hype, some traders made money on it, even I did at one point, but things were about to get nasty. Past deadline, their announcement never came. But another was about to come. Me and some others started doing some digging. I even got Konen's (@cmshindi, the dev behind it) IP address. Hence why I got the name "Sherlock", a user suggested it because I was doing some detective work. :P Turns out it was from Kenya, and if he was there this would be a strong indicator that their game was real, but this IP was blacklisted in a few places, and after some more research from me and others it became more clear it could just be a VPN, a fake IP. The GEOtag used on his tweet was also pointed out as possibly fake. But the scam wasn't a certainty yet, rumor was they had a deal with the Safaricom company and I was still holding a LOT of zetacoin when this happened:
Dear reader, things got ugly quickly. In the next few minutes/hours I think I was down 1+ BTC and sold in panic. Even worse, the market recovered a little bit after I sold (briefly, but enough to make me hate my sell and myself). Might not mean much to you, but that was a lot to me, and I had never lost that much money in my life before, or at least not that fast. All I could think of was "FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!" and that voice lasted for a few days in my head. I couldn't even sleep.
But that opened up my mind!
You see, today I consider that a small price I paid to learn a few valuable lessons (zetacoin wasn't the only scam I saw, but it was the hardest for me):
- Don't believe everything around here.
- There are many scammers out to get your money any way they can.
- Markets can be manipulated (and often are).
- Don't go too big in a position.
- Try to diversify a little bit.
- NOTHING is a certainty.
- Have a plan when trading for your entries and exits, don't just panic buy or sell.
I got lucky. I learned pretty fast how to avoid some scams and how to not go broke with them. If you don't have a plan, you already lost, it's a matter of time. Unless you create one. MANY coins died since 2014. That's why I don't like the "JUST HODL strategy" that some people preach around here. Even when something looks really good it can become a complete failure or scam. Even if it's not a scam, it could still go down a lot in price. And it's not because it went up to insane highs before that it's going to do the same again. This is not a safe place, there are huge risks on every corner. Holding most of these alts long term shouldn't be treated as a SURE THING for the future even if it worked for some til now.
3 years later: VRC, BLK and many others are still recovering from the ALT bull market we had in 2014 (BTC itself was in a downtrend til 2015), some never will. This is a fact. Some devs are long gone even (hello Paycoin and Josh Garza). Plus, we had a big bear market for both alts and btc in 2015 ~ 2016. If you don't want to watch your money take a big hit, I'd recommend you pay attention. Other facts:
- It's not a profit until you're out of the casino.
- You can't go broke if you play it safe and take some profit out at times.
Ok, I'll try to not waste much more of your time.
Some more advice: if you see some red flags, like stuff not smelling well on a coin/project or an exchange, get out. Before anyone else. Reassess later. Even hearing the word "hack" made me withdraw all my money from Mintpal (old exchange, gone). A bad support and ongoing problems with the website made me withdraw my money from Cryptsy (gone too). By doing that, I dodged these bullets. Many people did not. Hence why I have concerns with Poloniex these days and why I'm only keeping a small amount of money there. Hence why I don't use Yobit anymore (non-existent support and anonymous team). If Yobit decided to close doors today and you had some money in there, it's bye bye. You would never see it again.
In fact, if you have a lot of btc you should keep most of it on your own wallet. When your btc is in an exchange, it's not really yours, you do not control it, you just basically give your btc as collateral so they allow you to trade other stuff at their will, and that stuff you buy with it is also not yours until you withdraw it. You should only keep enough on exchanges for what you're actively trading.
So, how did it end?
Well, it didn't, I'm still trading. But here's the rundown:
I was able to make 40+ BTC out of 0.25 btc in 2014, within 7 months. It was a very nice %. Maybe not so much money back then for some of you, but considering I'm from Brazil and the USD is worth 3 times more than my currency (BRL), that was quite cool to me. It was a very great year, but some bad things happened later. First, I had the illusion that the bull market would last longer, that the amount I was making all the time was sustainable. Eventually, I got myself spending more than I could make, expensive phone, tv, clothes, food, parties, even tried to open a design company with a business partner. I won't go into a lot of detail here but my partner screwed me even more. He owned me some money I had put into the company and he did not pay me. To top it off, I got fucking robbed in my own house at the end of the year. Thieves stole my new tv, my new phone, my guitars, some money and other stuff from me and my parents. THANKFULLY nothing happened to us besides the money, but yeah, my life turned into a financial mess.
So, I ran out of Bitcoin.
I stopped trading early 2015. Got a nice job in October that year and started building my life up again. Considering the bear market, I didn't come back to trade til January this year. I started small again, but I'm proud to say that after these months I'm already WAY over my results from 2014, 200x+ USD-wise (over 20000%!). I'm not a millionaire yet, but I believe I can reach that point in a near future and my life has changed considerably already. I also didn't do it alone, I thank the community, many people helped me get where I am today due to their insights. Make meaningful connections, they will get you through it. It's next to impossible for you alone to stay informed about all these coins all the time.
Last but not least, here's some more of what I learned from these experiences, they might sound basic, but sometimes we can easily forget them:
- Try to save money while you're making it, don't go full retard thinking you're set for life
- Do take profit at times, it's healthy, but never sell ALL your Bitcoin.
- Or at least, remember to buy it back later if you're flipping it around.
Of course you can HODL some altcoins you believe for the long run after some good research, but if you decide to do it, make sure it's an amount of money you can afford to lose just in case things go wrong. We are currently making history, it's somewhat unprecedented, but so far we had seasonal markets, so it could get ugly before it gets better. Also, there's a chance this technology won't even be around in a few years. I think it will, I think we'll see 10k USD per Bitcoin in a few years, but it's NEVER A CERTAINTY. So I can't stress this enough: if you want to be around in the future, play it safe. It only takes 1 poor choice for things to go bad.
That would be all. I could go on about many things that happened but this should be enough for now. I probably already took too much of your time. I don't know everything. I'm always learning, always trying to improve my game, but I sincerely hope my story added some value to you as a crypto trader/investor.