UK man throws away hard drive containing over $7.5 million in Bitcoins

The real world value of Bitcoins has soared in the past few months as more and more businesses have started accepting the computer generated currency. Even the government of Germany is now accepting Bitcoins. However, one man who mined over 7,500 Bitcoins back in 2009 is now faced with the prospect of never being able to get that now valuable currency back.

The Guardian reports that James Howells of Wales claims to have thrown away an old hard drive that was originally installed in a Dell laptop four years ago. He used the laptop to mine the Bitcoins, which was relatively easy to do at the time as it didn't take that much computing power to create the currency. Today, thanks to how Bitcoins were set up, it takes much more time and computing resources to mine new Bitcoins.

In 2010, the laptop broke down and Howells claims he torn down the PC for parts. However, he kept the hard drive in a drawer until sometime this summer, when he finally threw it away. That turned out to be a huge mistake and one which he finally realized last week. The drive contains the Bitcoins and the cryptographic key needed to access them, and Howells has no backups available on any of his other drives or USB sticks at home.

Howells says he even went to the landfill site near Newport, Wales to look for the drive, which is likely buried under tons of other trash. The value of each Bitcoin is currently over $1,000 which means that the landfill contains an item that at the moment is worth over $7.5 million. A spokesperson for the Newport town council said that anyone who comes to the landfill looking specifically for that hard drive will be turned away, but added, " ... obviously, if it was easily retrieved, we'd return it."

Source: The Guardian
Bitcoin image via Shutterstock

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ok i may be uneducated regarding bitcoins, but can someone please explain to me what they are?
are they some sort of virtual currency for buying stuff off the internet?
are they somehow gathering on peoples' hard disks without their knowledge and some person using them?
are they some sort of a virus?
are they used to blackmail people?

That's the problem. They're backed by nothing and only have value because someone else thinks if they buy some someone else will pay them more later. It's kind of like TSLA or other bubble stock shares. It seems to be the trendy way to scam money out of people that get caught up in hype.

Mr. Hand said,
That's the problem. They're backed by nothing and only have value because someone else thinks if they buy some someone else will pay them more later. It's kind of like TSLA or other bubble stock shares. It seems to be the trendy way to scam money out of people that get caught up in hype.

Oh, kind of like how real money are backed up by nothing, only having value because there are money in circulation and because people use them?

That is exactly what currencies are for. Representing value.

Saex_Conroy said,
ok i may be uneducated regarding bitcoins, but can someone please explain to me what they are?
are they some sort of virtual currency for buying stuff off the internet?
are they somehow gathering on peoples' hard disks without their knowledge and some person using them?
are they some sort of a virus?
are they used to blackmail people?

I found some more information here: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=bitcoins

what a fascinating concept. you can "mine" your own with your system (faster if you have the right hardware setup). and there are "faucets" all over the internet dispensing teeny weeny bits of it for free. for the past 10 days, i've seen it's price went up from 500+ to 800-1000 range. simply fascinating.

LUTZIFER said,
What the hell are bitcoins?

It was a ritoricle question, lol.
I don't actually give a **** knowing, enough to actually look it up.

What kind of idiot throws away a hard drive without formatting it or wiping it first... As it's obvious that he knows something about computers as he stripped the original laptop down for parts.

Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. I remember laughing at a friend who bought 6 of them earlier this year at approx $100/BTC and then watching the value go all over the place. If only I'd know...

Hard drives must be deposited at an authorised electronics disposal centre in compliance with the WEEE directive. He's liable for a fine.

Breach said,
Hard drives must be deposited at an authorised electronics disposal centre in compliance with the WEEE directive. He's liable for a fine.

Gotta love the person who came up with that name. WEEEEE! Directive!

So thanks to bitcrop everybody's (except me) is now a frikkin millionaire? You know that money won't bring you happiness, right? Right... ahhaha.

auziez said,
What are bitcoins? lol

What does it mean by "mine" the bitcoins... odd.

Anyways, looks like road trip to the landfill with buddies LOL 7.5 mills id be willing to drop a few days in there lookin.

auziez said,
What are bitcoins? lol

What does it mean by "mine" the bitcoins... odd.


A friend of mine supposedly found an answer to that question.

Last night we were celebrating Christmas, and he said "there's this thing called Google. It can help you get information on anything!".

But then obviously I turned that weird claim down and said "get outta here. What year do you think we are in. 2013?".

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=bitcoins

Don`t believe a word of it! For a start i`m pretty sure if you had a hard drive with that amount of currency on you would a. Know about it and b. Have a back up and not throw it out, crumbs it`s not like Bitcoin has suddenly just become newsworthy, plus the guy works in IT...
Infact i threw one away just last year, please send donations to honestlyyournotamug.tv

It's possible to be honest, up until even a few months ago bitcoin mining was almost worthless so he may have tossed it thinking it to be trash, later realizing the value of BTC had soared.

Yeh but come on, apparently the 'coins' were worth £500,000 when he aledgely threw the disc away. Unless the guy has shed loads of cash surely he knew he had a disc with a load of them and the key on so wouldn`t just willy nilly sling one in the bin.
The guys in IT so i`m thinking he would of at least known the situation. It may well be completely true, if it is this guy must win some award

It is easily done, and perfectly possible.

It amazes me how many people on here jump to the conclusion without having any evidence claim he is lying.