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 Prison Years 10 through 15 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

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Earning $1 Million in Prison

Although I didn’t have access to computers, by reading I could learn about the Internet. In 1998, from inside of a prison, I raised $2,000 in capital to begin my career as an investor. I wanted to participate in the new economy, and through my sister, I opened a brokerage account with an online trading company. By using the $2,000 I raised in prison, and margin loans that the brokerage house extended, I began investing in the leading Internet stocks of the day.

Over the next two years, I directed more than $20 million worth of stock trades. Early investments in America Online, Yahoo!, Double Click, Real Networks, and other highly volatile stocks led to my building equity of more than $1 million at the peak of my portfolio’s value, in early 1999. When the Internet bubble burst, the concentrated, heavily leveraged positions I held in volatile stocks resulted in the loss of several hundred thousand dollars in equity.

Still, the money that remained in my account at the start of 2002 changed my life.

  1. Had it not been for my early commitment to education, I would not have been in a position to raise capital.
  2. Had I not invested time to learn about business or the Internet, I would not have known how to invest.
  3. Had I not seized opportunities to invest in Internet stocks, I would not have built experience as an investor. That experience brought the thrill of earning my first $1 million in equity, and the agony of watching hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equity disappear as the stock market crushed valuations of the equities I owned.

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