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Decade After Ex-Wife Threw Away Hard Drive With Bitcoin Cache; Engineer Continues to Look For it

James has garnered support for his treasure hunt from a team of investors.
PUBLISHED APR 22, 2024
Cover Image Source: Bitcoin Drive | Unsplash | Photo by Michael Förtsch
Cover Image Source: Bitcoin Drive | Unsplash | Photo by Michael Förtsch

Bitcoin was first launched in 2009 by an elusive inventor going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto, but cryptocurrencies were soon forgotten only to resurface when the value of Bitcoin surged by 54%. It was this boom that turned cryptocurrency investors into overnight millionaires, and the forgotten digital assets in crypto-wallets became hot property. But while many celebrated the rise of crypto, computer engineer James Howells was devastated when he discovered that his ex-partner had mistakenly discarded his cache of 8,000 bitcoins in an office trash bin back in 2013. Stored on a hard drive, James believes the device ultimately found its way to a landfill site in Newport, South Wales. Determined to recover his lost fortune, he has announced a staggering reward of $1.2 million for anyone who locates the missing hard drive.



Despite his fervent desire to reclaim his digital wealth, the man encountered numerous obstacles in his quest. Seeking permission to search the Newport Household Waste Recycling Centre, where the hard drive is presumed to be buried, James approached the council but returned empty-handed.

"There's 24-hour security. Everyone who works here knows what's supposed to be buried in the landfills under the hills. But the other problem is, where would they start looking," the landfill worker shared. "The owner has visited the site many times but if it's here, it's under one of those two hills in the distance. He's adamant but no one can know for sure if it's here. Some of the stuff that arrives is sent off to incinerators," he added.

"Even if the council gave permission it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. It would be impossible. Unless the computer stuff has some sort of homing device on it, there's just no way. The fella should just forget about it and move on," the worker added.

Pexels | Photo by Pixabay
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Pixabay

James' once-disregarded hard drive, nestled within a single black bin bag, now holds the potential to unlock a staggering $567 million fortune.

"We have been contacted multiple times since 2013 about the possibility of retrieving a piece of IT hardware said to contain bitcoins, which may or may not be in our landfill site," Newport Council said. "The council has told Mr Howells multiple times that excavation is not possible under our environmental permit."

Residing in a modest home in Newport, James remains undeterred by bureaucratic roadblocks. Faced with the council's adamant stance, he now prepares to pursue legal recourse.

Image Source: Unsplash|Photo by Dmytro Demidko
Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Dmytro Demidko

James' relentless pursuit of his lost fortune has led him to extraordinary lengths, which includes enlisting the expertise of NASA data specialists from Ontrack in 2021. Renowned for their feat in salvaging data from the battered hard drive of the Columbia space shuttle, which plummeted to Earth in 2003, Ontrack's involvement in the case has left many council members bemused by the peculiar turn of events.

"We have been very clear and consistent in our responses that we cannot assist Mr Howells in this matter. Our position has not changed. We will be offering no further comments on this issue as it takes up valuable officer time which could be spent on delivering services for the residents of Newport," the Newport Council said in a statement.

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