Where there's muck there's (virtual) brass: Newport man accidentally throws away hard drive needed to access £4m worth of 'Bitcoins'

 

James Howells accidentally threw away a hard drive containing the cryptographic "private key" needed to access the digital currency

They say where there's muck there's brass (even if it is just the virtual kind).

A man from Newport has spoken of his regret after he accidentally threw away a hard drive containing the cryptographic "private key" needed to access nearly £4 million worth of the digital currency Bitcoins.

The hard drive was thrown away by its owner James Howells over the summer along with the Dell XPS N1710 laptop it came from.

After discarding the equipment, Mr Howells realised it included a digital wallet containing 7,500 Bitcoins which he 'mined' in 2009 at almost no cost.

Mr Howells, 28, who lives on Cromwell Road, Newport, had stored the virtual currency on his hard drive when it was worth almost nothing.

In 2009 the virtual currency was pretty much unknown outside of tech circles, however, in recent months the value of the digital coins has increased exponentially.

In a desperate and so far fruitless attempt to retrieve his virtual treasure Mr Howell visited the Docksway landfill site in Newport but was told it would not be sealed off unless there needed to be a criminal investigation carried out.

According to reports Mr Howells was told so much rubbish has since been piled on top the hard drive, which was thrown away in July or August, that it would be almost impossible to find. Mr Howells told the South Wales Argus that the landfill site would be “30 feet in the air when complete”.

Speaking to The Guardian, who first covered the story after spotting a post on Reddit, Mr Howells said: "You know when you put something in the bin, and in your head, say to yourself 'that's a bad idea'? I really did have that."

According to the newspaper, at the time of his discarding the hard drive the virtual currency would have been worth around £500,000 but the value has since risen to beyond £4million.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Male Behaviour Support Assistant vacancy in Penarth

£55 - £65 per day + Travel Scheme and Free Training: Randstad Education Cardif...

BA/PM,EMIR/Dodd-Frank,London,£450-650P/D

£450 - £650 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

SEN Learning Support Assistant vacancy in Penarth

£55 - £65 per day + Travel Scheme and Free Training: Randstad Education Cardif...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz