My crypto addiction almost took everything from me
One crypto-obsessed man’s fall from grace.
Into the Cryptoverse is a weekly Breach series that documents the stories of everyday people as they navigate the cryptoverse.
The pharmacist in this story found out about crypto and its possibilities. Then he gave it a try. The only problem was that he obsessed over it a little too much, and he didn’t realise it until a market dip jolted him back to reality. By that time, it was almost too late.
Read to find out what happened to him.
How did all of this begin?
In 2019, a friend introduced me to a coin called XIO. A little background: I like high-risk investments. Some people might even say I love gambling with money. My thinking is that you need money to earn more money. So when I heard about this hot coin, I thought I might as well give it a go.
Was this your first attempt at investing in crypto?
No, it wasn’t. I invested for the first time in 2016. I had just gotten my pharmacy degree and was open to trying new things. A friend’s brother told me about crypto and invited me to join a trading group. The only blocker was that I didn’t understand how crypto trading worked, so I only bought Bitcoin and sold it to people with a small markup. However, I wasn’t making a lot from it. I packed it all in and went back to focus on pharmacy.
Back to 2019. What were your motivations for coming back to crypto?
I needed money. I was tired of my 9–5 as a medical sales rep where I spent most of my days on the road.
Also, I had started earning money and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to invest some of it in something. I put ₦50k ($~83) in the XIO token, and soon after, it started mooning — this is when the value of a coin or token consistently goes up.
I bought the token on Uniswap — a decentralised exchange — and somewhere down the line, Uniswap gave me 400 units of its native token, UNI.. Altogether, my XIO and UNI were worth ₦500k ($~833). That was a jump from the ₦50k (~$83) I invested.
And your brain lit up.
Exactly. I was like, “what kind of free money is this?” Immediately, my mind thought about how I could make this a consistent source of income. Luckily, the XIO developers announced plans to do an airdrop, and because of that, more people started buying the token, which drove up the price. I made about ₦1.5m ($2500) off this project alone.
You mentioned your job, how did your crypto earnings stack against your salary?
I was earning ₦100k/month (~$166) from my job. I was definitely making more money from crypto and even started making more when I started day trading.
this was before I started day trading.
When did you start day trading?
2020. I spent all my days watching Youtube videos and joining Telegram groups. I had two options — spot trading or futures trading. I went with spot trading because it was less risky. Besides, futures trading relies heavily on technical analysis, which I wasn’t good at. On the other hand, I was decent at fundamental analysis, and it was enough to trade in the spot market.
Explain spot trading to me like I’m a five-year-old.
You pretty much optimise for buying a coin or token when the price is down,hold for a while and sell when there’s a price increase. Then you move on to the next trade.
That said, it comes with a lot of patience because of how volatile the market is. The first three things I learned when I started day trading were when to enter a trade, when to exit, and when to exit even if you’re at a loss.
How was it going?
Very well. However, my work was suffering. At some point, I stopped going to work. It was easy to lie about where I was because I was always in the field. While my boss thought I was at work, I’d be at home with my phone and laptop looking at charts and trading. I finally quit my job in April 2020.
I had to make a decision because my job now seemed like a distraction. It was the best time of my life, though. I had more money at my disposal than ever and could afford most of the things I wanted.
In retrospect, it wasn’t all pretty. My screen time shot to about 18 hours a day, and this started to affect a couple of things.
My relationship with my girlfriend. I hardly ever had time for her anymore or respected her presence whenever she was at mine. I was always on my phone. I was always like I had short windows to act on trades but my girlfriend would be here forever.
I was barely sleeping too. Although that wasn’t much of a problem because I was earning from trading. I was at the top of my game.
What were the signals that indicated how well you were doing?
I started a closed crypto group people paid to access. It was easy to convince people to pay because they could see that I was making money. I also had investors.
Some people gave me money to invest. The plan was to give them 10% of their capital every month. This was a very good deal for me because, on most months, I made more than I paid in ROIs. My confidence in the crypto market was at an all-time high.
By May 2021, I had about $7k in my crypto wallet, which was a combination of my profits and investors’ money. My plan was to hit $10k and return everyone’s money. So I was reinvesting my profits into the market to get me there faster. Then things took another turn.
On a night in May, a series of notifications woke me up. They were price updates, and I saw that Bitcoin was tanking. I wasn’t worried about it then — it wouldn’t be the first time. I expected the price to stabilise before morning. But it didn’t. Before the month was over, it was down to $30k. For context, it was around $53k in April.
Damn. Were you holding only Bitcoin?
No. But Bitcoin controls the market and its price movements affect other projects. Now, my portfolio was down from around $7k to $4k. I was confident that the market would recover soon, so I took out my savings — about ₦300k — and put it in crypto. Sadly, the market didn’t recover and that was the beginning of my problems.
My investors wanted their money, and I had nothing to give them. Man, I had no job, no money, and my relationship with my girlfriend was shaky. I was alone.
I can’t imagine what that period felt like.
One moment chalks it down for me: I used to take my clothes to the cleaners. My laundry guy would pick it up and deliver it, and I’d send the money to him. When the dip happened, I couldn’t pay him anymore. One day, he came to drop off a batch of clothes I had with him and he went “I dropped your clothes the last time and you haven’t sent the money. Has your money finished?”
It was banter but it cut deeply because my money had actually finished.
I literally had to retreat from the world. I wasn’t comfortable leaving my house when I owed people money. So, I was always trying to figure out how to sort the mess. I even developed an alcohol dependence during the heat of it.
I’m sorry about that. Did you figure out how to pay back the money you owed?
I just had to be straight with my investors and asked them to give me three months to pay them back. Thankfully, they agreed to it. All this happened between June and September.
How much did you pay them back?
I paid close to $4k. The bulk of it came from what remained of my crypto investments — I liquidated everything. But that wasn’t even enough. I had to borrow money from other people and my family also chipped in. But the worst was over, even though I lost everything. The next step was figuring out my fresh start.
What did that look like for you?
I took up a job in November, but it didn’t feel much like a fresh start. Leaving the country for my Master’s degree, however, felt like one. Luckily, I had started the process a few months earlier. My sister helped me out a lot here. In January 2022, I moved to a new country.
Man. That’s quite a ride.
Yes. I acknowledge my series of mistakes here too: I was too dependent on crypto. I believed it was the next big thing and was going to change the future of finance, which isn’t wrong. But I also got addicted and programmed my entire life around it. I didn’t think about what could go wrong and put all my eggs in one basket.
Are you still in any crypto projects?
Not really. I don’t even have up to $20 in my wallet right now. There are times I feel like going in again, though, and I fell to the urge in January. I had about $300 I wasn’t going to use until much later, so I figured I could make something from it. I put all of it in a coin hoping it would go up. But it started dipping. I had to liquidate it when almost half of it had been wiped off. I haven’t been back since.
Do you see a future where you return?
Absolutely. I’m taking a step back because I still have some PTSD, and I don’t even have money. I’m studying and working right now, and I’m saving the bulk of my earnings for my tuition. Apart from that, there are bills to pay. There’s almost nothing left after all this.
I’m hoping I’d be back to participating in crypto by the end of the year.
What will be different this time?
I’ll stick with buying and holding. Everything was fine until I started day trading — it’s easier to give in to its thrill. I’ve seen how badly it can affect everything you hold dear, so I’m moving away from it.
Rooting for you. One more thing; what’s your relationship with your girlfriend like now?
Oh, we’re good. We’re married. I guess I didn’t lose everything after all.