British man accidentally threw $280 million worth of Bitcoin (BTC)

James Howells
James Howells

James Howells, a British man said he accidentally threw a hard disk filled with his Bitcoin (BTC) 7 years ago. The 35 years old engineer is urging local authorities to allow him to search for it in the dumping ground.

Howells, a Bitcoin owner from Newport, Wales, said he mistakenly threw the hard drive while he was cleaning his home in 2013. The hard disk contains “private keys” to over 7500 Bitcoin tokens — worth $280 million at the time of this writing.

Eight years after dumping his hard disk, Howells decided to give it a last chance and search for the lost BTC fortune. However, the local council refused his request to search the landfill, for environmental reasons. The landfill can’t be accessed by the public, and trespassing is a criminal offense according to U.K. law. 

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Howells believes that the hard disk might still be “intact.” In a 2013 interview with CNBC Howells stated, “There is a good chance the platter inside the drive is still intact. Data recovery experts could then rebuild the drive or read the data directly from the platter.”

Howells to donate 20% of his Bitcoin

In response, Howells offered to donate $70.8 million of the BTC to a “Covid Relief Fund” — if the local council grants him permission to search the landfill for his hard drive. Nevertheless, the Newport City Council rejected his request, and said it’s impossible due to “environmental and funding concerns”. 

Howell said,  “As far as I am aware they have already rejected the offer without even having heard our plan of action or without being given a chance to present our mitigations to their concerns regarding the environment, it’s just a straight-up ‘no’ every time.”

A spokesperson for the council told CNBC, “ We have been contacted several times since 2013 about the possibility of retrieving a piece of IT hardware said to contain bitcoins, the first being “several months” after Howells first realized the drive had gone missing. “

The cost of digging up the landfill, storing and treating the waste could run into millions of pounds – without any guarantee of either finding it or it still being in working order.” He added.

Howells is not the only BTC owner who lost his BTC fortune. Approximately $140 billion worth of Bitcoin is lost or inaccessible to investors due to forgetting private keys and passwords. 

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