As reported by The New York Times (via BBC), Thomas was given 7,002 Bitcoins more than 10 years ago for making a video how cryptocurrency works. At the time, his collection of Bitcoin were worth only a few dollars each, and he decided to store them in an IronKey digital wallet on a hard drive. He wrote the password to that drive on a piece of paper that he ended up losing, and now his Bitcoin are worth $240 million and he can’t remember what password he wrote down all those years ago.
Thomas has already tried eight possible passwords, and he only has two left before the password will “encrypt itself, making the wallet impossible to access.”
There are those, like ex-Facebook security head Alex Stamos who have offered to help Thomas unlock the hard drive, but he is asking for a 10% cut.
“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,” Stamos said on Twitter. “I’ll make it happen for 10%. Call me.”
Later, Stamos mentioned that he was joking when he said he would unlock it, but that it is “something that should be investigated.”
Thomas is not alone in being locked out from his Bitcoin fortune, as there is currently $140 billion worth of Bitcoin that is either lost or left in wallets that cannot be accessed, according to cyrptocurrency-data company Chainanalysis.
The New York Times article even mentions a particular case where an entrepreneur lost about 800 Bitcoins when a colleague of his reformatted a laptop that happened to contain the private keys to his wallet.
This whole situation has left Thomas wary of cryptocurrency in general.
“The whole idea of being your own bank – let me put it this way, do you make your own shoes? The reason we have banks is that we don’t want to deal with all those things that banks do,” Thomas said.
Image Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.
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