Many people on the web are commiserating with the pain of a man who forgot his password for getting to his 7,002 bitcoins, worth around $220 million, and has only two tries left before he is banned from trying.
In an interview with The New York Times, California-based German programmer Stefan Thomas said that he was given the bitcoin as a present, which has fluctuated in value over the past few years before surging recently, for creating an animation about bitcoin back in 2011.
He says he lost the pass to his IronKey, an encrypted hard drive that contains the keys to his digital wallet, that same year.
Ever since, Thomas says he has attempted to access his account with 8 of his normally used passwords but failed.
Now, he has just two attempts left before his $220 million are “lost forever”.
Meanwhile, the company has said they are unable to help as they do not keep people’s passwords, but rather give those who buy bitcoin a private key to their wallet – which no one else has access to apart from the individual.
“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,” Thomas recalled.
Man who was "drawn to Bitcoin partly because it was outside of the control of a country or company" forgets his Bitcoin wallet password, loses access to $220 million, and now concedes maybe banks serve a useful purpose after all.https://t.co/5D9TB9yiWi
— Lisa Kramer (@LisaKramer) January 12, 2021
Thomas has now put his IronKey in a secure place hoping that he will at some point in the future be helped to access his digital wallet.
He said he also did it to protect his mental wellbeing.
“I got to a point where I said to myself: ‘Let it be in the past, just for your own mental health,’” he told the New York Times.
People on Twitter have expressed their thoughts over Thomas’s dire situation.
“Yo this is incredible,” New York Times political reporter Astead Wesley tweeted.
Other users talked about the secondhand anxiety the story has given them. One person said:
“My God. That’s stressing me out and I don’t even have a stake in this.”
“It’s too early to be confronted with secondhand anxiety this extreme.”
Some people have tried to be helpful, with one Twitter user writing:
“Um, for $220m in locked-up bitcoin, you don’t make 10 password guesses but take it to professionals to buy 20 IronKeys and spend six months finding a side-channel or uncapping.
I’ll make it happen for 10 per cent. Call me.”
And Thomas is not alone in his plight, as there are many other people who have lost their bitcoins passwords in the past.
The New York times notes that
“20 per cent – currently worth around $140bn” of the existing 18.5m bitcoin “appear to be in lost or otherwise stranded wallets”.
Thankfully, while Thomas is not able to get to his $220 million, he was able to “hold onto enough bitcoin – and remember the passwords – to give him more riches than he knows what to do with.”
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