The value of cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, has skyrocketed this year. And, while some believe that the increase might not be legit or sustainable, it means many people, for now, might be unexpectedly sitting on fortunes. James Howells, an IT worker from Wales, is now a major player in the Bitcoin world, but in mid-2013 he accidentally dumped 7,500 Bitcoin. Back then Bitcoin was worth around £96, and now it is worth £8,435 – meaning that Howells lost over £63 million worth.
He plans to dig up the landfill and retrieve the hard drive that contains his private Bitcoin keys. Howells sold his laptop for parts, but kept the hard drive, until it was mistakenly thrown out. Sceptics might say that it is highly unlikely that Howells has any chance whatsoever to retrieve the hard drive. He has to go through an actual landfill – see above – and even if he knows the exact landfill, the chances of finding the hard drive under four years worth of trash are... slim. Even if he does find the hard drive, chances of it being intact and usable are, well... slimmer.
Howells is hopeful and hasn't looked for the hard drive yet, as the council won't give him permission, "despite having financial backing in place and engaging the local council a number of times". Although he is aware of the difficulties of the project "digging up a landfill is not as easy as just digging a hole in the ground," he says.
“A modern landfill is a complex engineering project and digging one up brings up all sorts of environmental issues such as dangerous gases and potential landfill fires, it’s a big, expensive and risky project” he adds, remaining hopeful, that it’s “also very doable.”
Howells is active in the Bitcoin space, despite his massive loss, and remains hopeful that he'll uncover his hard drive – no matter how long it takes.