UK man on a mission to find long-lost hard drive with bitcoin worth $280 million

The resident of Newport, Wales has once again started his search for the drive and urged local city officials to let him dig through landfill sites.
The cryptocurrency has been booming since March last year and had on Monday from a record level of $40,000.(AFP)
The cryptocurrency has been booming since March last year and had on Monday from a record level of $40,000.(AFP)
Published on Jan 18, 2021 04:02 PM IST
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Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Deepali Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

James Howells, a 35-year-old software engineer, accidentally threw away his hard drive containing bitcoins at least eight years ago, which is worth more than $280 million now. The resident of Newport, Wales has once again started his search for the drive and urged local city officials to let him dig through landfill sites.

What had happened?

The man claims that he had two identical-looking hard drives and threw away the one which had the 'private key' required to access and spend the 7500 units of cryptocurrency stored on his computer while cleaning his office in 2013.

A private key is a form of encryption, a digital signature that provides an algorithmic proof that the transaction was done by the owner. Bitcoin has a decentralised system operated by a network of computers. Every transaction is done through a wallet with a 'private key to encrypt and decrypt information.

Why is it trending today?

Howells has again raised his demand to dig the landfill to locate his drive. Even in 2021, he is confident that he will find his gold at the end of the trash, however, local civil authorities have again rebuffed his demand citing the cost involved sans any guarantee.

"The cost of digging up the landfill, storing and treating the waste could run into millions of pounds — without any guarantee of either finding it or it still being in working order," the Newport City Council's spokesperson was quoted as saying by CNBC.

In order to locate his long lost drive, Howells has also promised 25 per cent of the bitcoins to his city's 'Covid Relief Fund', with an added promise to fund the excavation with an unknown hedge fund. If found, the promised donation would amount to $70.8 million.

Also Read | Bitcoin retreats from $40,000 level strategists view as key

"As far as I am aware they have already rejected the offer,” Howells had told CNBC in an interview. “Without even having heard our plan of action or without being given a chance to present our mitigations to their concerns regarding the environment, it’s just a straight-up ‘no’ every time," he added.

The cryptocurrency has been booming since March last year and had on Monday from a record level of $40,000. The analysts believe dollar weakness, probability of faster inflation in recovering the global economy could be the factors driving quadrupling pace of the largest cryptocurrency, Bloomberg said.

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