Programmer with two password guesses left to access £175m bitcoin wallet, what's on your iPod?

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Stefan Thomas has just two chances left to get his hands on his $240m (£175m) fortune.

Thomas is a San Francisco-based computer programmer, and a decade ago he was given 7,002 bitcoins as a reward for making a video explaining how the cryptocurrency works.

At the time he was paid, they were worth $2-$6 each. He stashed them away in his “digital wallet” and forgot about them.

Now each bitcoin is worth $34,000, and the contents of his wallet are valued at $240m. But Thomas has forgotten the password that will unlock his fortune.

Heavy Messages (jed_), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 21:23 (two weeks ago) link

Four Jacks and a Jill (morrisp), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 21:32 (two weeks ago) link

Eggbreak Hotel (Tom D.), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 21:32 (two weeks ago) link

MacArthur park

brimstead, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 21:34 (two weeks ago) link

Eggbreak Hotel (Tom D.), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 21:36 (two weeks ago) link

Heavy Messages (jed_), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 21:39 (two weeks ago) link

I've just seen the guy interviewed on BBC News 24 and he seems chipper enough.

Eggbreak Hotel (Tom D.), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 21:56 (two weeks ago) link

Hear, oh ilx, my tale of bitcoin woe!

In 2014, my friend [REDACTED] said, "Everyone should have a bitcoin. If you want to buy a bitcoin, I'll buy it for you." So my cousin and I each gave him $125, and he gave us each a paper wallet with one bitcoin on it and said, "Don't lose this, but just in case you do, I have a backup."

A few years later, the subject of bitcoin comes up. I haven't lost my paper wallet, but out of curiosity I ask, "Hey [REDACTED], do you still have those backup wallets?"

"I never had backup wallets. Your paper wallet is the only copy of that bitcoin in existence."

"Uh oh," I think. I love and trust [REDACTED], and I know he would never knowingly sell my bitcoin. But if he's forgotten about the backups and thinks he doesn't have them, that means he thinks every wallet in his possession belongs to him. And that's bad news, because my $125 bitcoin investment is now worth thousands of dollars. If it still exists.

But I don't know shit about how to check the value of my paper wallet, so I hang on to my bitcoin, move out of town, bitcoin goes up, bitcoin goes down, and finally, when it goes up to 35,000, my cousin and I decide it's time to sell our coin. We call [REDACTED] so that he can talk us through it. This is my idea. I figure if the bitcoin turns out to be missing from the wallet, it will be better if [REDACTED] is there to see that it's missing.

Long story short, the wallets are indeed empty. The bitcoin was bought, back in 2014, and then it was sold again, back in 2014. We thought we had a combined $70,000 in investments; we have nothing. 2014 is also when [REDACTED] had a business partner with a gambling habit who ran their business into the ground by using it to pay his debts, so it likely wasn't even [REDACTED] who sold the bitcoin. In any case, [REDACTED] recently bought a house with almost all his savings and can't refund us our bitcoin, but he feels terrible about the whole thing so he sends us .1 bitcoin each. I promptly sell mine for $3,400 so I never have to think about bitcoin again. The end. (Well, except that my cousin is now being harassed by her abusive boyfriend for "letting her friends steal $40,000 from her," but that's something for another thread.)

What's on my iPod, you ask? The Tom Rush version of Stagger Lee, because I sing this line to myself whenever the subject of friends and money comes up:

And old Mrs. Lyons, she said "I don't believe it's so.
You and Billy been friends such a very long time ago.
Lose your money, learn to lose.

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 22:45 (two weeks ago) link

xp Why not. The Independent:

However, while Thomas is unable to access $220m of his wealth, he has “managed to hold onto enough bitcoin - and remember the passwords - to give him more riches than he knows what to do with,” according to The Times.

maf you one two (maffew12), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 22:50 (two weeks ago) link

oh. well, shit

Four Jacks and a Jill (morrisp), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 22:53 (two weeks ago) link

my brother was an early bitcoin adopter and kind of annoying about it. he then went off it - he tends to have little obsessive fads, as do i - and he sold his bitcoin for not very much money - a 500 pounds or something. he definitely owned multiple bitcoins, can't remember how many. so he hasn't missed out on a fortune but probably thousands of pounds

Fenners' Pen (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 22:53 (two weeks ago) link

at the moment one is worth $34,000 US.

maf you one two (maffew12), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 22:54 (two weeks ago) link

My whole bitcoin drama happened just this past week, btw. Up until a few days ago I kind of thought I had an extra $34,000 or so coming to me, which would have come in really handy this year. Oh well.

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 23:09 (two weeks ago) link

That's some story, Lily, Thanks for telling it.

Heavy Messages (jed_), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 23:22 (two weeks ago) link

eek 😬

kinder, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 23:48 (two weeks ago) link

at the moment one is worth $34,000 US.

― maf you one two (maffew12), Tuesday, January 12, 2021 2:54 PM (fifty-nine minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

oops, i hope my bro didn't have multiple and i was getting it wrong. he is paying a mortgage on a house outside of glasgow which he would have been able to pay off in cash for around 6 bitcoin at that price

Fenners' Pen (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 23:55 (two weeks ago) link

xp Eek indeed. I'm not all that upset for myself, as I wasn't in desperate need of the money, but my cousin could really use some running-away money right about now, and unlike me she didn't see this coming. She believed in the bitcoin, and so she really feels like she just lost $30,000 or so.

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 23:58 (two weeks ago) link

god that is rough

Fenners' Pen (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 00:04 (two weeks ago) link

ah shit, it's that cousin?
Has she still got the 0.1?

kinder, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 00:05 (two weeks ago) link

jmm, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 00:07 (two weeks ago) link

Noel Emits, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 00:17 (two weeks ago) link

(xp) lol

Eggbreak Hotel (Tom D.), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 00:21 (two weeks ago) link

yup, that cousin. She does still have the .1.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 00:46 (two weeks ago) link


boz conspiracy by toby hus (voodoo chili), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 01:37 (two weeks ago) link

Mods, it just occurred to me that I shouldn't have used my friend's real name in that story. It's not very likely that my cousin's abusive boyfriend is going to stumble on this thread, but he may very well be googling my friend's name + bitcoin right now, as he's obsessed with the idea that my friend stole it, and I don't want to take the chance that he'll find the other thread where I talk about his abuse of my cousin. Would it be possible to either delete the post, X out my friend's name, or de-index the thread from Google? Thank you and sorry for the trouble!

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 05:59 (two weeks ago) link

Jimi Buffett (PBKR), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 13:13 (two weeks ago) link

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="; frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

BrianB, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 13:43 (two weeks ago) link

Lily, you should ask on this thread: Mod request

Heavy Messages (jed_), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 14:07 (two weeks ago) link

Lily, your friend's name is now [REDACTED]. Let us know if you want anything more done (mod request forum is the best place to ask but I'll check back in here later). It's a good story though, so if you're cool with this edit then we'll leave it up.

emil.y, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 16:51 (two weeks ago) link

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 17:07 (two weeks ago) link

great (infuriating) story, Lily!

ridingstarbassxd (unregistered), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 17:17 (two weeks ago) link

ridingstarbassxd (unregistered), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 17:20 (two weeks ago) link

I've mentioned this before, but for a while I worked in a support/help capacity for a company that made a multicoin digital wallet. I've heard many a tale of woe.

stylish but illegal (Simon H.), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 17:22 (two weeks ago) link

lol and lol xp

imago, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 17:24 (two weeks ago) link

Eggbreak Hotel (Tom D.), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 17:28 (two weeks ago) link

Lily, I know that you have other stuff on your plate, but have you considered talking to a lawyer about this?

jmm, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 17:30 (two weeks ago) link

cracker, Tom.

Heavy Messages (jed_), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 17:30 (two weeks ago) link

Thank you, emil.y. That works! I really appreciate it.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 18:49 (two weeks ago) link

xp I don't really want to talk to a lawyer and don't think it would do much good. I don't know that it was my friend who lost/sold the bitcoin; it could easily have been his business partner. In any case, my friend has already lost quite a lot by being business partners with someone with a gambling addiction; it would really suck for him to now lose an unexpected $70,000 on top of that, when this all started with him trying to do a favor for his friends who would never have invested in bitcoin on their own.

And bitcoin wasn't worth very much in 2014, so nobody actually got $34,000 or whatever from it; they probably got about $150. And my cousin and I could have taken the initiative to find out how bitcoin worked and check the balance on our paper wallets years ago, instead of just hanging onto them and trusting it would all work out. And bitcoin in 2014 wasn't as organized and safe as it is now; it was still very new, there were lots of hacks going on, and people routinely lost huge amounts of coin. Turns out we were among them; we just didn't find out until now.

Basically, the way I see it, this is kind of like going to sell your baseball card collection and finding out your mom gave it away at a yard sale. It sucks, but it happens. I invested in an uncertain and unsafe commodity by handing an envelope with $125 in it to a buddy of mine and then ignoring my investment for six years, and I still made $3,400. I don't really have that much to complain about.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 21:20 (two weeks ago) link

that's a good way to look at things. In addition, if you held the coin digitally yourself and knew how to trade it, you may well have sold it years ago for much less than $3,400.

Heavy Messages (jed_), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 22:10 (two weeks ago) link

Kenny Loggins (can he log in!)

nashwan, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 22:21 (two weeks ago) link


Heavy Messages (jed_), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 22:29 (two weeks ago) link

Gil Scott Heron "Johannesburg"

("What's the word?)

Mark G, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 22:33 (two weeks ago) link

Eddie Money - Shakin’

calstars, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 23:32 (two weeks ago) link

Lily Dale, Thursday, 14 January 2021 03:15 (one week ago) link

messiahwannabe, Thursday, 14 January 2021 23:26 (one week ago) link

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 January 2021 23:28 (one week ago) link

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