Meet 'The Wolf of Crypto Street,' an Ohio teenager who used his entire savings to become a cryptocurrency millionaire

Eddy Zillan Eddy Zillan

  • Eddy Zillan, 18, invested his entire savings into cryptocurrencies when he was 15 years old and says he has made over $1 million in profits.
  • Zillan has spent the past three years studying cryptocurrencies and now offers his services as a cryptocurrency consultant.

When Eddy Zillan started trading in cryptocurrencies three years ago, he was 15 — too young to open an account on the trading platform Coinbase, which requires its users to be at least 18 years old.

But Zillan glossed over the site's terms of agreement and opened an account on Coinbase and another trading platform called Kraken, cautiously purchasing $100 worth of the cryptocurrency ether.

Zillan says he was initially skeptical of putting his money into the fledgling cryptocurrency market, which he'd first heard about in reference to the now defunct drug-trading website Silk Road. When Zillan began investing in 2015, there were few credible resources offering advice on how to invest in cryptocurrencies.

"At the time I invested, there were no YouTubers, there were no investors, there was no one I could learn from," Zillan said in an interview with Business Insider. "There were no books or mentors, and it was really hard to teach myself a formal education in that field."

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When Zillan checked his accounts a few hours after investing his first $100, he found he'd already made $10. Though it may not sound like much, Zillan says he was floored.

"I thought: 'Wow, I just made a 10% return in a day. That's crazy,'" he said.

Eddy Zillan

The next day, Zillan put in more cash. This time, it was $1,000.

A week later, he added $5,000, and the week after that another $6,000.

Before long, Zillan had invested a total of just over $12,000, the entirety of his savings from teaching tennis lessons, along with a tidy nest egg he'd received from gifts and his bar mitzvah a few years earlier.

"I risked everything," he said.

At first, Zillan's parents had mixed feelings about their son's interest in digital currencies. While his mother approved, his father cautioned against what he considered to be an extremely risky venture.

Meanwhile, Zillan's skepticism was evaporating by the day.

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Within the first few months, his returns had begun to skyrocket. As his gains inched higher, Zillan was reading about cryptocurrencies obsessively, sometimes spending hours a day on cryptocurrency forums or chatting with other investors online. Soon, he was dabbling in alternate cryptocurrencies — also known as altcoins — and day trading.

In one short year, Zillan's initial investment had snowballed. He says his entire cryptocurrency portfolio had tallied a staggering $350,000.

Zillan continued educating himself on cryptocurrencies with the few resources available online. Zillan says his knowledge of the market mostly stems from his conversations with other investors and people who created cryptocurrencies.

Like many people who invested in cryptocurrencies early, Zillan acknowledges that his profits are partially due to opportune timing. But Zillan says that making smart investments in cryptocurrencies requires more skill than simply opening an account on Coinbase.

Zillan doesn't underestimate his good timing, but he credits his enormous returns to his business acumen and his understanding of digital currencies.

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Today, Zillan says his portfolio sits comfortably at over $1 million and that he's turning his eye to another venture in the cryptocurrency field: advising.

Zillan, a high-school student who turned 18 in August, has spent the past year broadening his business interest in cryptocurrencies.

His company, Cryptocurrency Financial, offers cryptocurrency-investing advice to businesses and novice investors. This week, he plans to launch the program's consumer-focused app, Coinalert.ly, designed to be a mix of resources for cryptocurrency investors, including trading tips, guides, explainers, and news.

Zillan says the app fills a void in the cryptocurrency market: a lack of resources with investing device, despite the growing influence of cryptocurrencies.

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So far, cryptocurrency communities have relied largely on sites like Reddit to discuss the often volatile market, the strength of a given currency, and what seem to be pump-and-dump schemes.

Zillan, who has charged $250 an hour for private cryptocurrency-investing services in the past, says his goal isn't necessarily to make money from the company, but "to make the crypto community bigger."

"I want to see cryptocurrencies as the future," he said.

Eddy Zillan

Zillan is by no means the first to offer his skills as a cryptocurrency-investment guru. Amid the fervor of the digital gold rush, a slew of self-proclaimed "crypto geniuses" and "crypto experts" have emerged online to capitalize on their investing know-how, espousing promises of effortless wealth.

Zillan says his expertise sets him apart from other cryptocurrency advisers on the market. While others might resort to tricks or manipulation to profit off unsuspecting clients, Zillan says, his only motivation is to educate people.

"I'm not some guy off of Wall Street," he said. "There's no motive or reason for me to try to trick people."

Zillan's rhetoric, however, is slightly at odds with the image he's cultivated online — both his website and his Instagram page capitalize on the "get rich quick" zeitgeist of the cryptocurrency community.

He describes himself as the "Crypto Millionaire" on his website, and he's often pictured in a tropical location or beside a flashy sports car. (Zillan drives three luxury vehicles, which he says were purchased with a mix of profits from cryptocurrencies and early-stage investments, and money from his parents, who are both wealthy business people.)

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In one photo, Zillan smiles broadly beside a painting of himself in which he's depicted as the infamous Wall Street mogul Jordan Belfort in a scene from the movie "The Wolf of Wall Street."

The caption reads: "The wolf of Crypto Street."

When asked why he's comparing himself to one of the most notoriously debauched Wall Street traders in recent memory, Zillan describes the images as "a marketing type of deal" that shouldn't be confused with the efficacy of his company.

"Sure, it's very flashy. Wolf of Wall Street was shitty penny stocks, but what we do is completely different," he said. "I just use that for marketing. What's going to catch your eye? Some words, or a picture of that?"

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