Two Wrong Guesses And This Programmer Loses USD 241M in Bitcoin

Marco Green
January 13, 2021

Thomas said he was frustrated with cryptocurrency over the experience of potentially losing his bitcoin fortune.

One bitcoin is now worth $34,000.

He was given 7,002 Bitcoins back in 2011 when he was living in Switzerland, having been gifted them by an early Bitcoin advocate after he made an informative animated video about the cryptocurrency.

Thomas reportedly put the tokens into a wallet and stashed the lot, including access to his private keys, on a small hard drive device called an IronKey.

Thomas lost his seed phrase that is necessary for unlocking his crypto riches the same year.

Mr Stamos, who is now professor at the Stanford Internet Observatory, tweeted Mr Thomas: "Um, for $220m in locked-up Bitcoin, you don't make 10 password guesses but take it to professionals to buy 20 IronKeys and spend six months finding a side channel or uncapping".

Mr Thomas said he has already tried eight passwords he uses without success.

His plight, reported in the New York Times, has gone viral.

Mr Thomas' unlucky tale has thrown light on one of the pitfalls that come with dealing in cryptocurrencies, which, unlike traditional banks, do not have a function to retrieve lost or forgotten passwords.

Currently, about $140bn worth of Bitcoin is lost or left in wallets that can not be accessed, according to cryptocurrency-data company Chainanalysis.

Many locked out owners have been forced to watch on, unable to cash in on their digital wealth, as the value of Bitcoin rapidly increased during the pandemic. In fact, businesses such as Wallet Recovery Services which specialise in tracking down missing keys have been receiving over 70 requests a day - three times the amount from a month ago.

"I'll make it happen for 10%".

For now, Thomas has put the IronKey in a secure facility (nope, he's not telling you where that is, funnily enough), just in case anyone comes up with a new way to crack the complex password.

He added: "I got to a point where I said to myself, "Let it be in the past, just for your own mental health"".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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