A $220 Million Fortune Out of Grasp – Man Locked Out of His Bitcoin Wallet


Bitcoin wasn’t worth much back in 2011, and Stephen Thomas didn’t think that his 7,002 bitcoins were worth remembering. Nevertheless, he stored his BTC in a secure disk drive wallet called IronKey.

Bitcoin is now one of the most valuable cryptocurrencies, with one unit selling for tens of thousands of dollars, and Stephen is sitting on a $220-million fortune. Stephen still has the disk drive, but he doesn’t have the password to access it. Here is his story – and many more stories just like it that should serve as a lesson to other cryptocurrency investors.

Stephen’s Bitcoin Wallet is Out of Reach

IronKey is a highly secure USB drive that uses AES-encryption technology. The in-built encryption allows users only ten attempts at typing in a correct password. The drive becomes forever encrypted after the ten wrong attempts, and the content therein is wiped. This is Stephen Thomas’s current situation.

“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. It was actually a really big milestone in my life where I sort of realized how I was going to define my self-worth going forward. It wasn’t going to be about how much money I have in my bank account,” says Stephen.

Stephen has made eight attempts at unlocking his password by trying his most common password variations. He only has two attempts left, after which his entire fortune will disappear into thin air if he doesn’t use the correct password.

This is Not the First Time

Stephen isn’t the only one sitting on an inaccessible fortune because of a lost password and other technical mistakes. About 20% of bitcoin holders can’t access their wallets because they lost their passwords and other technical mistakes. The New York Times reports that about $140-billion worth of bitcoin is inaccessible as a result.

One couple in Washington, D.C., Yuri and Art Williams, is sitting on $5.8-million worth of Ethereum because they don’t have a JSOL file. Many more investors are sitting on anywhere between thousands and millions for similar reasons.

Several companies have emerged, offering affected people solutions to recover their passwords. Wallet Recovery Services, one such company, receives more than 70 daily requests, similar to Stephen’s case. This number has been increasing steadily over the recent past, and it is expected to keep growing.

Make Sure you Secure Your Fortune

Do you have cryptocurrency that you don’t value and about which you tend to forget? You, too, could be sitting on a fortune in the future if your cryptocurrencies appreciate in value. It would be a pity if you couldn’t access your fortune, hence the need to secure your wallets and all related details such as passwords and private keys.

Stephen is in an almost helpless situation without access to a $220-million fortune. Many other people are also experiencing a similar problem, and they all make the same mistake. As such, ensure that you protect your wallets and the passwords required to access your cryptocurrency.