The cryptocurrency Bitcoin has already turned 13 years old. And what intense years! From the mystery of its creator to the incredible growth of its value (sometimes, when Elon Musk takes to tweeting his name), it has come with very curious stories of bitcoin losses that over the years have become millionaire losses.
For go back to its originIt must be said that although the bitcoin white paper was published by Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym used by the creator or creators of bitcoin, on October 28, 2008, many say that its minting date was January 3, 2009.
To celebrate this birthday, we are going to remember those stories that most seem taken from a science fiction story of past decades envisioning what the future would be like and in which the drastic change in the value of bitcoin led to not very good surprises. Don’t forget that around 20% of existing bitcoins are estimated to be in lost or abandoned wallets (and the coin has seen record numbers in 2021).
1. A hard drive in a huge garbage can
Welshman James Howells has spent years trying to find an old hard drive that has stored bitcoins worth $ 315 million (as of December 2021, which we already know that bitcoin changes in value all the time), according to him. The hard drive ended up in the trash at the time, so the place Howells you want to look is a huge landfill, but the local council does not give him permission because they say that removing the garbage could cause a huge environmental impact
When hardly anyone was mining this cryptocurrency, this man says he mined 7,500 bitcoins in just one week and then forgot about it. He mined at night, intermittently, for a couple of months. But mining required a lot of processing power, what caused the laptop to overheat.
The coins were worthless at the time, and there was no reason to think that they ever would. “It was just mining for fun,” he explained. It was the year 2009. The hard drive ended up in the trash. And the landfill looks set to continue, because there are no plans that the authorities will give Howell a permit to rake in his millions.
2. A millionaire password written down on a piece of paper
Stefan Thomas, a German programmer who resides in San Francisco, but despite his profession wrote down the password of an IronKey memory on a piece of paper. In that memory there are many other valuable passwords such as the one for your digital wallet with more than 7,000 bitcoins.
Beyond having lost the password, the main problem I had in January of last year, when this story was released, is that He only had two chances to enter the password before the high-security memory is encrypted.
3. A burned disk and a skilled hacker
In this case we have a happy ending. A Twitter user, calling himself “ex-hacker turned businessman, announced on the social network that he was “close” to recovering his own digital wallet, which he had written off after his hard drive caught fire more than a decade ago.
And, based on what he reported, he did. On Twitter, the user @jonesushchrist revealed that his attempt to recover the wallet.dat file had turned out to be successful, and that had now made him a “millionaire”, although he did not reveal the exact amount of money he had behind this.
To all this, it must be said that several users pointed out a possible link between this news and an alert about a big bitcoin transaction that had taken place in the last hours: 1500 BTC (equivalent to just over 41 million euros), which had passed from an ‘unknown wallet’ to the Bitstamp exchange.
4. A metal box and trouble with the law
Between 2011 and 2012, Clifton Collins bought $ 6,000 worth of Bitcoin, using money he had made from growing and selling marijuana. At that time, the price of Bitcoin was hovering between four and six dollars. Maybe he thought that it was an investment, but also a way to “launder” money that he had gotten in an illegal way.
Collins was faced with the perennial dilemma of how to store this $ 6,000 in Bitcoin. He decided to print an A4 sheet of paper with the private keys (known as a “cold wallet”), and kept this paper in an aluminum box that served as a case for the fishing rod. The metal box you were in your rental home. To all this, the police arrested him after finding him circulating with a lot of marijuana in his car and he ended up sentenced to several years in prison.
Your rental landlord had your belongings removed and were taken to a landfill. As you can imagine, among these belongings was the metal box with the codes inside. Apparently, the waste from this landfill is sent to Germany and China to be cremated.
Regardless, Collins could not have redeemed his fortune in Bitcoin even if he had the private keys, since Ireland’s ‘Criminal Assets Bureau’ Had Already Seized Their Bitcoin Assets, claiming that his purchase had been financed by an illegal activity.
5. The Swedish police and their millionaire debt with criminals
This story caused a sensation last summer among Genbeta readers and it is no wonder: Swedish authorities seized 36 bitcoins in April 2019 to some drug dealers as part of a conviction for selling drugs online, imposed by a prosecutor. These 36 bitcoins were worth $ 150,000 at the time, and by August 2021 the value had multiplied by 10 to $ 1.5 million.
This led the police to owe that earned money to the aforementioned traffickers. This is because the authorities did not change the cryptocurrencies to a fiat currency at the time, as is common to do. But they waited two years to make this change and, in doing so, they found themselves with an extra $ 1.35 million.
This means that, if the fine is $ 150,000 (the conviction was for the value of those 36 bitcoins at the time and not for the bitcoins as such), the authorities cannot keep the rest of the money and in August it was ruled that they should return it to the drug dealers who star in the story.
6. A failed screenshot
Matías Zavia, a 28-year-old Argentine living in Malaga, said in 2017 that he had invested in bitcoin four years earlier, when its value had fallen after the first big peak that exceeded 1,000 dollars in November 2013. “In January 2014 I spent 50 euros in 0.1 bitcoins “. He was testing Multibit, a purse.
If I hadn’t lost the password for the 0.1 BTC I bought from @jdiezlopez, today I would have won 3000 euros
— Matías S. Zavia (@matiass) January 7, 2021
When creating a wallet in Multibit, the system generates a huge list of random words to use as a password. The user must take care of saving those words, which do not have any kind of logic (for example, “gradual Roman anemia medlar double flimsy bat hornet nougat invoke …”). Matias took a screenshot and left it on the desktop. He lost it, and with it, his bitcoins.
Even last year, Zavia remembered on her Twitter account how much I kept losing to win with every raise of cryptocurrencies.
7. The scammer who refused to give your password
Now a year ago a story was known that affected the German authorities. The German police seized 1,700 bitcoins stored in a digital wallet that belonged to a scammer who has spent two years in prison for his crimes. But the scammer did not want to give them the access password, so the money in that purse, valued in January 2021 at 55 million euros, was inaccessible.
The scammer was sentenced to two years in prison after it was proven that he had installed cryptocurrency mining software on different people’s computers without permission. And you couldn’t be forced to give the password for a very simple reason: as a Bavarian city prosecutor explained, “I may not know the password”. That is to say, whether he knows it or not, he could claim not to remember it.
8. An old laptop without a hard drive
A Reddit user posted in 2020 that he had rediscovered his laptop containing 533 Bitcoins. He said that he had given this laptop to his brother, who died in August 2019 and found his computer when he was rummaging through some boxes and his brother’s belongings. He had forgotten this transfer of a very old computer in which the screen did not even work when the PC changed hands.
Of course, when he looked, he saw there was a “small” problem: the hard drive on which these 533 Bitcoins should be stored was missing and the deceased “was not organized”, according to his brother and he loved it “take things apart and see how they worked“.