Lost or forgotten passwords to bitcoin and cryptocurrency accounts typically lead to money that cannot be accessed, and according to German prosecutors, this appears to have hindered a recent case of criminal fraud involving bitcoin mining.
Lost Passwords Remain a Serious Issue
At the time of writing, law enforcement agents in Germany are holding a man – who currently remains anonymous – that has stored as many as 1,700 bitcoin units in a specific account. The big clincher is that the man engaged in bitcoin mining through other people’s computers without their permission. He installed software on their devices that allowed him to extract new coins and make some serious money – money that no one seems capable of accessing.
Prosecutors have done all they can to get him to give up his password for the account holding the stolen BTC. He has since been sentenced to two years in prison for his activities, and he’s still refusing to cooperate. Prosecutors believe he may have forgotten his password and is simply too proud to say so.
Sebastian Murer – one of the leading prosecutors in the case – explained in a recent interview:
We asked [for his password] but he didn’t say. Perhaps he doesn’t know.
That may be, or perhaps being someone who engages in illicit activity, he’s keeping a straight face and is well trained in the art of keeping his mouth shut. It’s strange how much speculation is occurring in the case regarding a lost or forgotten password. If this had been any other person – an average trader or miner, perhaps – that may have been the scenario, but this is an alleged criminal that attorneys are dealing with. Someone who would know a thing or two about staying quiet…
Thus, it’s quite possible that the culprit hasn’t forgotten his password. Rather, he’s simply refusing to tell. Maybe it’s occurred to him that without the password, they cannot access the funds and in two years, after he’s completed his prison sentence, he’ll simply move the money out of the account and disappear with more than $67 million, which is what the stash is worth at press time.
So Much Lost Money
Nevertheless, It’s estimated, per a new report, that as much as $140 billion worth of the world’s bitcoin cannot be accessed because the original owners forgot their passwords. Recent cases of lost passwords have consistently made their way into the annals of bitcoin and crypto-related news, the most recent involving another German man named Stefan Thomas who could not gain access to the $200 million+ BTC stored in his Iron Key wallet.
This wallet allowed up to ten tries to access its contents. Granted all ten attempts failed, the material held within would be encrypted forever, thereby preventing any further attempts. Thus far, Thomas had tried eight out of the ten times.