Welsh Man Offers Local Council $72 Million to Dig Up Bitcoin Hard Drive

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In Brief
  • A Newport resident seeks council approval to dig up a lost hard drive.

  • The hard drive apparently contains 7,500 bitcoin valued at roughly $280 million.

  • A 25% reward is being offered to the council to approve digging.

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A Newport resident has again reached out to the local council for assistance and approval in digging up a lost hard drive containing over 7,500 bitcoin.

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The Missing Bitcoin Millions

James Howells is searching for buried treasure, bitcoin style. The Welshman is negotiating with his local council in an attempt to recover an old hard drive that was disposed of in 2013. 

Howell had previously approached the local authorities to help him dig up the lost hard drive, said to contain around 7,500 bitcoin. Howell accidentally threw out the hard drive during a spring clean and only realized his error some months later. 

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The hard drive is reportedly located somewhere at the city’s landfill site. The elusive hardware currently holds approximately $280 million worth of bitcoin. 

The 35-year-old IT engineer is relentlessly pushing to have the hard drive found. And has even received backing from a hedge fund that is willing to fund the operation.

Council Hesitations

While the undertaking might seem like a no-brainer to most, the Newport council believes that the operation could do more harm than good. 

The council has previously declined Howells digging request. Strike two, it seems, as the council explains:

“Even if we were able to agree to his request, there is the question of who would meet the cost if the hard drive was not found or was damaged to such an extent that the data could not be recovered.”

The costs of digging up a landfill could quite easily run into the millions. And without the certainty of the whereabouts of the hard drive, it poses a problem. And even if found, it may not function.

The council has also stated that excavation is not possible under the licensing permit and the environmental impact it could have on the surrounding area. 

Howells insists that correct procedures and safety measures would be taken when digging in the area. However, the council confirmed that it would not be able to assist. 

Howells has even offered the council a $72 million reward in the form of a Coronavirus relief fund for the people of Newport. 

More Common Than You Think

With bitcoin’s recent surge to a new all-time high around $42,000, many investors who had purchased years ago are finally coming out of the woodwork to sell for handsome profits. 

Howells’ renegotiation with the Newport council comes days after former Ripple executive Stefan Thomas admitted that while he has his bitcoin stored on a safe device in his possession, he has ultimately forgotten the password to the IronKey external drive.

IronKey leniently gives the user ten password attempts before encrypting the data forever, rendering it useless. Much like Howells, Thomas is also set to lose over 7,000 worth of bitcoin if he fails to remember. 

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