A programmer in San Francisco only has two attempts to get his wallet with more than 7,000 Bitcoin. He's not the only one worried about a fortune this way.
“Sometimes I would lie in bed at night and just think about it,” Stefan Thomas tells the New York Times. “Then I keep going back to the PC to try a new strategy. And when it didn't work, I was desperate again.”
The German programmer, who now lives in San Francisco, has forgotten the password for his IronKey – a small hard drive that contains the access data for his wallets, his digital purses. 7,002 Bitcoin are said to be stored on it, which Thomas claims to have mined himself, especially in the early 2010s, when Bitcoin was still in its infancy. A fortune that is worth almost $ 220 million these days (approx. € 181 million).
The problem with this is that the IronKey only gives the user ten attempts to enter the password correctly. Otherwise it irrevocably encrypts the data stored on it. Thomas has already tried eight of the password variations he uses most frequently, but without success. He can no longer find the slip of paper on which he wrote the original password.
Thomas is likely to be one of many: According to a report by Chainalysis, which specializes in cryptocurrencies, almost a fifth of the 18.5 million Bitcoin in circulation is orphaned on “lost” wallets. More than 100 billion euros would be “stranded” in the network. Wallet Recovery Services, a US company that specializes in the recovery of lost access data, reports almost 70 requests for forgotten wallet passwords every day.
The lost millions of Stefan Thomas should be another argument for Bitcoin critics for the fact that Bitcoin should not be recognized as a real, digital currency. Currently, the cryptocurrency originally conceived as “money of the future” is mostly treated by economists as a pure, digital form of investment.