Tiffany Fong has had an unusual relationship with Sam Bankman-Fried, even by crypto standards. 

Speaking on the Unchained podcast, content creator Fong detailed how she came to consider the former FTX CEO a friend. During the now-convicted fraudster’s house arrest, the pair shared a series of conversations centered on personal topics including mental health, childhood insecurities, social difficulties and family dynamics.

Fong said she “spent a lot of time talking to Sam over house arrest” and added that she approached early conversations with him “with a very open mind.”

“I know a lot of people already sort of wanted to call him guilty before the trial, but at that point, we hadn’t actually seen any of the evidence,” Fong said, explaining that she was “genuinely open to at least hearing out his side of the story.”

For her part, Fong opened up to Bankman-Fried about her own battles with depression, which she feels in turn led him to share more with her. 

“I would be lying if I said that I didn’t consider him a friend,” she said, “and hopefully, people don’t get too mad at that statement, but I’m sure some people will.”

In one discussion regarding his admitted social ineptitudes, Bankman-Fried confessed to Fong that his only friends “for the past several years” were his work colleagues. Observing what would have been a painful twist for the convicted criminal, Fong said, “I would imagine that his closest friends were the people that testified against him and were the star witnesses.”

Seeing that Bankman-Fried was “definitely lonely,” Fong said she served as a “listening ear” for him to vent his emotions. “He probably needed that during that time period.”

Fong flatly denied any romantic possibilities, adding that Bankman-Fried never commented on her appearance or indicated any attraction toward her. “He’s always been really, really polite,” she said. “But I’ve also talked to him about his past relationships and his taste in women and things like that.” 

“I’m very aware of the rumors,” she said, laughing.

A confrontation with SBF’s mom

SBF’s parents, by contrast, were much clearer about how they felt about Fong. During her visits to the family’s home during SBF’s house arrest, she got the distinct impression her parents didn’t like her, but Fong didn’t take it personally, knowing they must have been suspicious of any outsiders talking to their son.  

At SBF’s trial one day, however, she encountered Barbara Fried leaving the courthouse and turned to Fried and felt she should say something. “You must be going through a really hard time… I’m so sorry,” Fong said she offered.

Read more: SBF Found Guilty on All Counts

“Barbara immediately snapped at me and was like, ‘Who are you?’ And I was like, oh, my name is Tiffany. I’ve actually visited your house before.”

“Oh, I know who you are,” Fried replied, according to Fong. “And then she very loudly began accusing me of writing a very unfortunate article about Sam.” Fong said she’s not sure which article Fried was referring to, and that Fried may have been confusing her with someone else. 

Following the confrontation, a few concerned bystanders approached Fong and asked, “Are you okay? Why was that woman yelling at you so much?

Read more: A 20+ Year Sentence? Why the Evidence Against SBF Was Too Hard to Overcome

“They didn’t actually know that it was Barbara Fried,” Fong said. “So I had to awkwardly be like, that was Sam Bankman-Fried’s mother, and she hates me.”

What’s next?

Now that the trial is over, Fong says she’s not sure what she wants to do next, noting that many of her followers on social media are detractors of SBF and disposed towards anger and violence, and she’s not sure that’s an audience she wants to cultivate. 

The one thing she knows is that she’s really enjoyed the past year and all its unexpected turns. 

Learn more: CeFi vs. DeFi: What Is the Difference?

“It’s been really fun,” Fong said. “So not planning on stopping, but I do need to think through what exactly I want to do or if I want to pivot or anything like that. But yeah, it’s been interesting. It’s been a crazy year.”