How 2 College Dropouts Made a Mint in Bitcoin

charlotteobserver.comJacob Melin and his business partner Enrique Rodriquez don’t have college degrees or any credentials as investment advisers.

Still, the men in their early 20s are gathering a flock, shepherding others in Louisville into the super-new world of bitcoin and other digital currencies.

They may seem young, but they are veterans with three years in the emerging phenomenon. And their ace in the hole: They’ve already scored a combined jackpot of nearly $1 million.

“It’s a rough investment world out there,” Melin said, sitting at a gleaming granite-topped conference table in leased offices of Crypto Consulting Group.

Their goal is to build a business and a community showing others the basic navigation tools.

Bitcoin, the best known of the new currencies, is just 10 years old. But it gained global exposure last year when a single “coin” surged 2,500 percent in value to more than $19,000 last December.

Millions of eager investors chasing riches have opened accounts in virtual wallets and begun riding the markets. Bitcoin was first conceived as a way to buy goods and services without dollars, shekels, Euros and credit cards.

Over time, it and lesser-known brethren — Ether, Ripple, Litecoin, Dash and Zcash — have been held or traded like a unit of gold or a stock with the ups and downs in the market.

Scammers inevitably have jumped in. One Louisville investor filed a federal lawsuit against Bitconnect, a British company and U.S. salesman who guaranteed staggering returns trading in crypto. Lawyers estimate that losses among investors nationwide total totaled $5 million.

Some companies, including Google and Facebook, also have banned advertising in cryptocurrencies, fearing their platforms can be exploited for scams and counterfeiters.

Melin and Rodriquez said that they warn clients that the amazing run-up last year may not be repeated, but it’s lit a fire in some curious investors — like the guy recently who turned up with $40,000 after taking a second mortgage on his home.

He made out OK, but there’s no guaranteeing others will do as well, the men said……

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