In the gloom of an 18th-century drawing room at the private rehab clinic Castle Craig, near Peebles in the Scottish Borders, Roy, a 29-year-old victim of the global cryptocurrency crash, tells me his story. It is a dazzling summer's day, but here the mood is sombre. Roy shifts uncomfortably in his chair as he begins.
It all started in February 2021, with a radio advert for Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency promoted by Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla. Intrigued, Roy started Googling, eventually using his credit card to make an initial investment of €2,500 (£2,200) in a range of cryptocurrencies. The value of Roy's portfolio climbed to €8,000, then €100,000, then €525,000. Roy had entered the market during an adrenalised bull run, meaning an extended period of price growth. A combination of Covid stimulus packages, low interest rates and an unprecedented level of enthusiasm for cryptocurrency among furloughed workers meant the bull was careering out of sight.
Roy started spending all his time watching YouTube videos and speaking to other cryptocurrency enthusiasts in private groups on the messaging app Telegram. He had been treated for cocaine and alcohol addiction twice, but by 2021 he was sober and working as an addiction counsellor, although he was on sick leave as a result of panic attacks brought on by childhood trauma. He soon relapsed. By day, he checked his cryptocurrency wallets every 10 seconds; by night, he set alarms to go off on the hour. He began fantasising about a life free of financial constraints, in which he would never have to work. "I thought I was on top of the world," Roy says. "Nobody could tell me anything. Money would fix every single problem I faced from now on."
From The Guardian (U.K.)
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