For a brief moment, Brian Caradella was a Dogecoin millionaire.
The 41-year-old said he invested tens of thousands of dollars earlier this year in the cryptocurrency. As the digital token – created in 2013 based off a humorous online meme – surged, he watched the value of his investment cross $1 million.
Despite a recent reversal, it is still worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a screenshot he provided of his trading account. “It is an emotional roller coaster,” said Cardarella, who lives near Boston and founded a software consulting firm.
The rise of bitcoin – a type of cryptocurrency that exists on computers all over the Internet and does not rely on any government to oversee it – has often dismissed as a financial fad for techie speculators.
But this year has seen the number of cryptocurrency explode, minting hordes of newly successful investors drawn by the potential of huge profits, a culture soaked in humor and the encouragement of celebrity billionaires including Elon Musk. Dogecoin, named after the Shiba Inu “doge” meme, is up 10,000 percent this year, according to Coindesk, a media outlet that tracks cryptocurrency.
But the wild turns of the crypto market are colliding with intensifying concern from regulators about the risks taken on by ordinary investors and the potential for these largely anonymous digital payment systems to facilitate misconduct.
Last week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission warned investors that bitcoin is a “highly speculative investment,” pointing to “the lack of regulation and potential for fraud or manipulation.”