A German-born computer programmer who lives in California has only two guesses left to figure out his password to access $240 million in bitcoin.
Stefan Thomas of San Francisco, CA, needs his password to unlock a small hard drive which contains the private keys to a digital wallet that holds 7,002 Bitcoin. Thomas received the bitcoins as payment more than a decade ago for making a video explaining how cryptocurrency works. At that time, the price of bitcoin was only a few dollars each.
Since early December 2020, Bitcoin has soared in value reaching a record $42,000 before dropping to about $34,000 this month
Thomas is now facing one of the toughest tasks of his life trying to remember his password having lost the paper where he wrote down the password years ago.
He has since quietly tried eight of his most commonly used passwords without success
“I would just lay in bed and think about it,” Thomas said. “Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again.”
He told the New York Times: “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.”
Bitcoin, the digital currency created in January 2009 following housing market crash, has made a lot of its holders very rich in a short time due to its sudden rise in value since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
To access the bitcoin wallet address, one needs a password. After 10 failed attempts, the password will encrypt itself, making the wallet impossible to access. No one can assist you with unlocking or finding your password after the 10 failed attempts.
Since the emergence of cryptocurrency, many people have been locked out of their Bitcoin fortunes as a result of lost or forgotten keys, forcing them to watch helplessly as the price rise and fall sharply, unable to quickly cash in on their digital wealth.
According to the data firm Chainalysis, about 20 percent of the existing 18.5 million Bitcoin appear to be in lost or otherwise stranded wallets.
Wallet Recovery Services, a business that helps find lost digital keys, said it receives about 70 requests a day from people looking for help to figure out their passwords.
Bitcoin owners who are locked out speak of endless days and nights of frustration trying to access their fortunes. Many of them acquired the coins since the cryptocurrency’s early days a decade ago when no one had confidence the price would surge.
“Through the years I would say I have spent hundreds of hours trying to get back into these wallets,” said Brad Yasar, a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur who has a few desktop computers that contain thousands of Bitcoin he created, or mined, during the early days of the technology.
In February last year, a man lost $60 million in bitcoin after his landlord cleaned the house and mistakenly sent everything to the dump. At that time, bitcoin was only $9,673 per coin. This would now be valued at more than $200 million. Read the story here.