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15th Sep 2023

Man had two guesses to remember forgotten password or lose £200million worth of Bitcoin

Charlie Herbert

Man had two guesses to remember forgotten password or lose £200million worth of Bitcoin

‘I would just lay in bed and think about it’

A man had just two attempts to try and remember his password in order to access $240m worth of Bitcoin.

Stefan Thomas, a German-born programmer living in San Francisco, had 7,002 bitcoins that were given to him in 2011.

The cryptocurrency had been given to him as a form of payment for a video Thomas made about bitcoin for a client.

At the time, each Bitcoin was worth just $2 each. Of course, in recent years, the value of the cryptocurrency absolutely rocketed (and has also dropped)

His 7,002 bitcoins ended up being worth roughly  $34,500 each, so a mind-boggling $241,569,000 in total.

Thomas had a major issue though. The coins were on a password-protected IronKey hard drive, which he had forgotten the password for. Crucially, an IronKey device only gives someone 10 chances to put the right password in, after which point it encrypts the contents, meaning the bitcoins would be lost forever.

After eight failed attempts, Thomas stopped trying. To make matters worse, he’d even written the password down on a piece of paper, which he had also lost.

Speaking to the New York Times in 2021 about his devastating memory blank, he said: “I would just lay in bed and think about it.

“Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again.”

He told KGO-TV that there were a “couple weeks where I was just desperate” adding that he even began to question his “own self-worth,” asking himself: “What kind of person loses something that important?”

Thomas has since come to terms with the fact he will probably never get his hands on the fortune, saying that “time heals all wounds.”

“It was actually a really big milestone in my life where, like, I sort of realized how I was going to define my self-worth going forward,” he said. “It wasn’t going to be about how much money I have in my bank account.”

After his story made headlines in 2021, he was inundated with messages from people offering advice and help.

He revealed that some had suggested he “tried the word ‘password'” whilst others have recommended mediums and psychics he could talk to, or even “nootropic memory enhancing drugs.”

Unfortunately, Thomas hadn’t put an easy password on the hard drive, instead opting for a very secure and complex string of letters, numbers and symbols.

He has said there is “no chance of remembering something that complicated from 10 years ago.”

Thomas isn’t the only one to have experienced Bitcoin heartbreak as the price has boomed in recent years.

Here in the UK, a Welsh man accidentally binned a memory stick containing 7,500 bitcoin in 2013, which ended up being worth roughly £150m.

He has since offered 10 percent of his fortune to the council if they help him find the memory stick by digging up a local landfill site.

Related links:

Woman swindled out of $300K worth of Bitcoin by Hinge date in latest romance scam

Online passwords should be completely scrapped to stop hackers, says cyber expert