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British Man Mistakenly Threw Away Hard Drive With Key To $280 Million Bitcoin

Would you go to any lengths to recoup $280 million? James Howells, a 35-year-old IT engineer from Wales, is faced with this dilemma. He unintentionally tossed out a hard drive that contained $280 million worth of bitcoin eight years ago.

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Would you go to any lengths to recoup $280 million? James Howells, a 35-year-old IT engineer from Wales, is faced with this dilemma. He unintentionally tossed out a hard drive that contained $280 million worth of bitcoin eight years ago. What led to this? And perhaps more importantly, how is it that so many different types of people are suddenly in this situation? Although bitcoin has recently experienced a surge in popularity, not so long ago, many people didn’t think it would ever achieve significant success. Howells’ case involved a case of mistaken identity since he possessed two identical laptop hard disks. The private key for one person’s bitcoin was on it, but not the other. The one that has the bitcoin key on it was mistakenly thrown out. Now, nearly a decade later, he is still trying to convince the officials in his city to let him search the landfill site he believes the hard drive is at.

Howell thinks that even though the hard drive’s shell is probably rusted and destroyed, its inside components might still be salvageable. There are 7,500 bitcoins on the abandoned hard disk, which are now worth more than $280 million. The only method to get his bitcoin due to the structure of cryptocurrencies is to locate the hard disk he threw away in 2013. In order to dive into the landfill in search of the hard drive, Howells needs permission from his local city council since the landfill is not open to the public and trespassing would be a criminal offense.

OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images

In order to make it more attractive to the city council, he’s offered to donate 25% of his bitcoin to his city to establish a Covid Relief Fund if he is able to find the hard drive. Additionally, supposedly with the support of a hedge fund, he has committed to discovering the excavation effort to find it. The municipal council hasn’t expressed any interest in letting Howell search for the hard disk, though. The council rejected Howells’ request due to funding and environmental concerns. Howell is frustrated because he hasn’t even had an opportunity to explain his strategy and demonstrate to the council that he has the resources necessary to complete this job.

Howells has repeatedly pleaded with the city council. The first time came not long after he initially discovered he had thrown away the incorrect hard disk. The city council has told Howell that there are a number of reasons they have refused his request – the largest being that an excavation would have a huge environmental impact on the area. The council also mentioned the expense as well as the problems with storing and handling the dredged-up waste. The city council believes the total cost could run into the millions – with no guarantee of Howells finding the hard drive or if he did, of it still working.

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