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Unforgivable mistake? This man has a fortune of $ 269 million but cannot enjoy it

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Jiya Saini
Jiya Saini is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. She has been working with us since January 2018. After studying at Jamia Millia University, she is fascinated by smart lifestyle and smart living. She covers technology, games, sports and smart living, as well as good experience in press relations. She is also a freelance trainer for macOS and iOS, and In the past, she has worked with various online news magazines in India and Singapore. Email: jiya (at) revyuh (dot) com

Stefan Thomas is a computer scientist originally from Germany who lost the password for his IronKey hard drive containing 7,002 bitcoins worth more than $269 million, according to the January 14 price. And now he’s only got two attempts left to find out. In fact, he’s not the only one who’s run into a similar problem.

Thomas, who lives in the American city of San Francisco, lost the piece of paper where he wrote the password years ago. IronKey is programmed in such a way that it offers its users 10 attempts to guess the key before the contents of the disk are seized and encrypted forever. 

Since then the computer scientist has tried eight of his most used passwords without success and now only has two attempts to enter the correct one.

“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,” the man recalled his unsuccessful efforts to access the disk.

Thomas has kept his IronKey in a secure facility in case cryptographers find new ways to crack complex passwords. Keeping it away helps him try not to think about the problem.

“I got to a point where I said to myself, ‘Let it be in the past, just for your own mental health,” he lamented.

The price of bitcoin has been extremely volatile in the last eight months. The world’s leading cryptocurrency allowed many investors to accumulate a great fortune in a short time after its value reached a new all-time high, exceeding $ 41,000 per unit in early January 2021.

Thomas’ dilemma is an obvious reminder to investors that despite all the benefits investing in bitcoin may present certain risks. If traditional bank accounts and online wallets like the PayPal easily reset passwords, with the largest cryptocurrency it’s not that easy.

Currently of the existing 18.5 million bitcoins, about 20% appear to be in lossy or stranded wallets, according to the data company Chainalysis. In total, its value could amount to about $140 billion.

The Wallet Recovery Services company, which helps find lost passwords, receives 70 requests a day from people who want to recover their wealth. Their number increased three times more than the applications submitted a month ago.

Bitcoin investors who cannot access their portfolios speak of endless days and nights of frustration. Many have invested in the cryptocurrency since the earliest days of its existence when no one was confident that these virtual currencies would be worth a fortune.

“Through the years I would say I have spent hundreds of hours trying to get back into these wallets. I don’t want to be reminded every day that what I have now is a fraction of what I could have that I lost,” lamented Brad Yasar, a Los Angeles businessman.

Yasar has several computers containing thousands of bitcoins that he mined since the first days of its birth. Now when these assets are worth hundreds of millions of dollars you cannot access them because you lost your passwords many years ago. The only thing left for you now is to hide your hard drives in vacuum bags, out of sight.

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