This factoid circulated throughout the internet last month, and it left many people kicking themselves for having not invested in the crypto-currency when it was still a nascent phenomenon. But the truth is, Bitcoin was still considered a passing fad in 2010, and you needed a considerable amount of faith and know-how to invest in it.
Cassidy, a 41-year-old legal professional living on the West Coast with his wife and daughter, was one of those fortunate dreamers. Since being introduced to Bitcoin in 2012, he has obtained more than 2,000 units of the currency, which together are worth more than $5 million.
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As the pseudonym implies, Cassidy is a deeply private man who asked to remain anonymous to protect his investment. "Forgive my caution," he says. "You may not realize, but [Bitcoin holders] are regularly targeted by identity thieves. I've had many people try to obtain my phone number in an attempt to socially engineer my phone company into transferring my number to an account of their holding."
But he did confirm his Bitcoin holdings to me. Prior to our interview, Cassidy recorded a video of himself pulling up our email exchange, and then opening his Blockchain account to reveal the number of coins he owns and their USD equivalent.
In a phone interview, Cassidy explained to MELhow he obtained his riches:
I first learned of Bitcoin in late 2012 while discussing psychedelic drugs in an internet relay chat room. I was trying to procure some chemical compounds, and a person in the chatroom mentioned there was this online bazaar where I could buy practically anything. It could only be accessed through the Tor network, and people paid in this digital currency called Bitcoin. That bazaar, by the way, was the now-infamous Silk Road.
I was looking for what I call "research compounds," psychedelic drugs that exist in a kind of legal gray area. Specifically, I wanted 25C and 25B — synthetic "designer drugs" that mimic the effects of LSD and other hallucinogens — for self-improvement purposes. There's tons of research about the amazing mental health benefits of psychedelics, although you don't hear much about it — it's still a taboo topic in our society.
The compounds weren't illegal at the time per se, so I was hoping to find a seller who would accept Visa, PayPal or some other vanilla form of payment. Bitcoin, however, piqued my curiosity.