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Thread: Man accidentally threw away $127 million in bitcoin and officials won't allow a search

  1. #1

    Man accidentally threw away $127 million in bitcoin and officials won't allow a search

    James Howells, an IT worker living in the United Kingdom, knows exactly where his misplaced 7,500 bitcoins are but the city council where he lives won't let him retrieve them. They say it's against the law.

    According to a report published in The Telegraph, Howells began mining bitcoin on his personal laptop in 2009. In 2013, though, "after I had stopped mining, the laptop I had used was broken into parts and sold on eBay," Howells tells The Telegraph.

    He kept the drive he used to collect the bitcoins, "so if bitcoin did become valuable one day, I would still have the coins I mined."

    But, while cleaning his home in 2013, he mistakenly put it into a waste bin at his local landfill site in Newport, South Wales, where it got buried.

    Now, with bitcoin's value hovering just above $17,000 Wednesday, according to digital-currency website CoinDesk, Howells' 7,500 lost bitcoins are worth more than $127 million. CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index tracks prices from digital currency exchanges Bitfinex, Bitstamp, Coinbase and itBit.

    More than four years' worth of garbage have poured into the dump since his mistake, which would make any recovery effort a significant undertaking. "A modern landfill is a complex engineering project and digging one up brings up all sorts of environmental issues, such as dangerous gasses and potential landfill fires," Howells says. "It's a big, expensive and risky project."

    He wants to try, regardless, but the Newport City Council won't allow it.

    In an interview with tech website Wired, a council spokesperson said their offices have been "contacted in the past about the possibility of retrieving a piece of IT hardware said to contain bitcoins," but digging up, storing and treating the waste could cause a "huge environmental impact on the surrounding area."

    The landfill reportedly contains about 350,000 tons of waste and 50,000 more tons are added every year.

    "It is likely that the hardware would have suffered significant galvanic corrosion due to the presence of landfill leachates and gases," officials pointed out. Even if the drive is recovered, it may not work after being exposed to weighty and possibly toxic waste for so long.

    Plus, the operation, which could require specialty-construction vehicles, might cost millions. And while Howells has the "financial backing in place" to fund such an effort, according to Wired, he needs permission: The landfill is not open to the public and trespassing would be considered a criminal offense.
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  3. #2
    With the amount of money potentially there it seems like a few friendly donations would change the outcome. What would the city council want to allow it, a new park? A new city hall? 2% of any recovered amount given to the city?
    “…let us teach them that all who draw breath are of equal worth, and that those who seek to press heel upon the throat of liberty, will fall to the cry of FREEDOM!!!” – Spartacus, War of the Damned

    BTC: 1AFbCLYU3G1dkbsSJnk3spWeEwpqYVC2Pq

  4. #3
    Theye have refused their Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

    Theye have erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

    Theye kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies

    Theye have combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution,

    For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

    For cutting off our Trade with parts of the world:

    For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

    Theye plundered and destroyed the lives of our people.

    Theye are at this time transporting Armies of Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of a civilized nation.

  5. #4
    It's not true that he knows "exactly" where it is. It's been buried under approximately 200,000 tons of garbage. It must be extremely difficult to accept such a large monetary loss but, sadly, I think the council is right on this one. Even if he did manage to find that laptop drive buried somewhere under 200,000 tons of garbage, after four years, it - and any data on it - is almost certainly destroyed. He doesn't deserve to be belittled for his mistake - misplacement is a human foible - but it is the case that he should have been more careful with the coins - 7,500 coins even at that time would have been worth more than a million dollars.

  6. #5
    this story will come back when Bitcoin is 100k, 200k, 500k, 1m

  7. #6
    The conspiracy theorist in me says they don't want to allow this because after first hearing of it they dug the thing up themselves.... Or maybe the guy never threw it away, he said that to cover his tracks
    “…let us teach them that all who draw breath are of equal worth, and that those who seek to press heel upon the throat of liberty, will fall to the cry of FREEDOM!!!” – Spartacus, War of the Damned

    BTC: 1AFbCLYU3G1dkbsSJnk3spWeEwpqYVC2Pq

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