Imagine having a lot of money stored up in a safe somewhere. Before you even realize it, you’ve somehow lost the safe’s key only to find that it went out with the rest of your everyday trash. It wasn’t something that you meant to do… It just kind of, well… happened. For 35-year-old James Howells, this is the reality he’s currently facing after realizing that he threw out some hard drives containing quite a bit of bitcoin with the rest of some unwanted materials.
James Howells Really Wants His BTC Back
While moving out of his home roughly eight years ago, Howells thought like most people do when they’re shifting locations, “How can I make this easier on myself? What useless junk that I don’t need anymore can I just get rid of to lessen the burden of what I’ll have to take with me?” It turns out two of the items he threw out were identical hard drives that went with his laptop along with the cryptographic private keys that he required to access the heavy stashes of bitcoin they were storing.
Naturally, Howells was rather devastated when he realized what had happened and is now asking permission from city officials to search a local landfill site for the hard drives, claiming that they could still be recovered and that the contents held within could be reclaimed.
He mentions in an interview with CNBC that while the outside of the hard drives may be damaged at this point, the interiors are likely to be remain in solid shape. He states:
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.
Overall, it is estimated that there were about 7,500 bitcoin units on these hard drives, which today would be worth a whopping $280 million. Despite the provable fact that the bitcoins were once his, he still needs the greenlight from members of the city council to search the dump where the hard drives are likely to be. As it stands, searching through the landfill area on one’s own is considered a criminal offense, as the spot is cut off to members of the public.
Giving Back to the Community
In return for permission, Howells says he’ll donate one quarter of the hard drives’ contents to a COVID-19 relief fund as a “thank you” for allowing him to get his funds back. Unfortunately, this has not been enough to sway the people in charge, who claim to be concerned about both environmental issues and funding. Thus, all his requests have been turned down so far.
Howells, of course, isn’t too happy about this, claiming that the city council won’t even hear his arguments regarding what the plan is for getting the hard drives back.