Man offers local authorities £50m to help in his hopeless quest for lost bitcoin fortune

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After the recent bitcoin password fiasco (opens in new tab), it looks like yet another poor soul is having a hopeless time getting their rightfully owned bitcoin back before the market price dips down again. 

According to The Guardian (opens in new tab), computer engineer James Howells just offered Newport council $68m (£50m) to help him scour a landfill site, in the hopes of recovering his mistakenly discarded laptop hard drive and 7,500 bitcoins along with it.

The find, should the HDD even be in working condition, would be worth over $286m (£209m). So, you might not be surprised to learn this isn't the first time Howell has appealed to the council for help finding it. But this is the first time he's offered a 25% share for its safe return.

Howells explained he even has hedge fund backing to pay something upfront, but Newport council has flat out refused to go digging around for the hard drive, even under the promise of such a large donation.

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He told the Guardian “If I could access the landfill records I could identify the week that I threw the hard drive away" and the "serial number of the bin that it was in," which would lead him to a grid reference where the HDD would be located.

Sounds simple, right? Just like a search and retrieve task in a videogame.

Not so. Being now buried under 7 years of putrescent waste, an excavation would cause massive environmental damage, allowing millions of tons of methane and CO2 to escape into the atmosphere. 

Understandably, Newport council are not prepared to break so many licencing regulations on the possibility that the hard drive is found and in working condition. Considering it would cost the council a darn site more than Howells has offered, they've made it abundantly clear that he's on his own.

Forget about it, man. It's probably corroded by now.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for two years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.