- Stefan Thomas has forgotten the password to his Bitcoin account and has already attempted eight times to log in, failing each time.
- If he doesn’t get it right, he will lose his money in the account…all $260 million of it.
- The last time he used the password was a decade ago.
Stefan Thomas has a very big problem. He has forgotten the password to his Bitcoin account and has already attempted eight times to log in, failing each time. Now he only has two more chances to type the correct password and if he doesn’t get it right, he will lose his money in the account…all $260 million of it.
The German-born programmer, who is the former CTO at blockchain company Ripple Labs and lives currently in San Francisco, needs the password in order to unlock a small hard drive called the IronKey. It only allows 10 guesses before it seizes up and encrypts an account’s contents forever.
Now Stefan is only two passwords away from losing that fortune.
Of course, it’s only natural to wonder how Stefan could possibly forget a password for something so important. Well, a decade ago, he received 7,002 bitcoins as a reward for creating a video that explains how cryptocurrency works.
During that time, each Bitcoin was worth only $2-$6 each. He just kept them in his “digital wallet” and didn’t pay it much mind. Now each bitcoin is worth $38,000, which ballooned Stefan’s earnings to $260m. But since it has been such a long time, he has already forgot the password to his account.
“I would just lay in bed and think about it. Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again,” Stefan told The New York Times.
Because of his ordeal, the idea of cryptocurrencies has turned him off.
“This whole idea of being your own bank – let me put it this way, do you make your own shoes? The reason we have banks is that we don’t want to deal with all those things that banks do.”
For now, Stefan has put the IronKey in a “secure facility” and hopes that cryptographers will be able to help him gain access to his wallet.
People around the world were horrified upon learning of Stefan’s misfortune.
There are even some who offered to help him access his wallet. One person tweeted:
Some reacted humorously to the situation.
Stefan is not the only one who has this problem. There are numerous individuals who lost or forgot their passwords to their digital wallets over the years. Around 20% of the existing 18.5m bitcoins appears to be lost or stranded in inaccessible wallets, according to Cryptocurrency data firm Chainalysis.
But things are not that bad for him. The NYT added that Stefan has “managed to hold onto enough bitcoin – and remember the passwords – to give him more riches than he knows what to do with.”
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