The crypto meme "Not your keys, not your crypto" is now etched on my soul.

The crypto meme "Not your keys, not your crypto" is now etched on my soul.

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In the early days of cryptocurrency after watching an episode of the Good Wife at the beginning of 2012 (entitled “Bitcoin for Dummies”), I decided to apply myself to the world of Bitcoin mining. With my initial modest computer setup, I eagerly began my mining journey, not knowing what fortune lay ahead.

Months turned into several years, and my Bitcoin stash began to grow as did my mining setup. I had around 25 open rig miners and each had 2 to 3 state-of-the-art GPUs and I was continually upgrading. By the time 2015 rolled around, I had amassed a small fortune in Bitcoin, and I was quite pleased. I had never anticipated such success with such a meager start. However, with good fortune came a great measure of responsibility, and I began to feel the weight of protecting my digital treasure. I wanted to get out of mining and simply wisely invest what I had then amassed. One day, I confided in my new and very trustworthy friend John Doe (I mean Paul Vernon) about my growing concern over safeguarding my Bitcoin fortune. Big Vern, a tech-savvy individual, kindly suggested a trading account with his up-and-coming company on the new website Believing that I was in good hands, I eagerly handed over the keys to my digital kingdom.

I would like to preface the remaining story with the fact I knew about paper wallets and how they safely store your cryptocurrency from early in 2012. I also knew that without safely storing the private keys of my crypto addresses where only I knew them meant my funds were not safe. Let me just say it is one thing to know something is prudent and it is another thing when you learn it at a deeper level through experience.

Months passed, and all seemed well. I felt relieved that my Bitcoin was secure and that I could count on “Big Vern” to keep it safe. However, one fateful day, I received a heart-stopping error message after attempting a small withdrawal. With a sinking feeling in my gut, I read the words that would change my life for years: "Currently we are experiencing problems with our withdrawal system. If you place a withdrawal for BTC LTC DASH BTCD and a few other coins, you may experience delays."

I received the same error while trying to withdraw funds for hours and then for days. It inevitably sunk in, my Bitcoin fortune vanished into thin air, lost forever into the aether of “could’ve done, should’ve done parallel universes” where in a parallel existence I planted around 500 BTC in a paper wallet and HODLed for my true destiny. I knew all about paper wallets even before investing but I trusted my new confidant, and very unwisely as I did of course learn.

If this helps even one other person in the cryptocurrency community to understand the meme: “Not your keys, Not your crypto”, then this true, little anecdotal account was worth rehashing. You need to know this if you are on any centralized, cryptocurrency exchange.

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