An IT worker lost Bitcoin worth $378 million after shucking a hard drive, is planning landfill search

An IT worker lost a hard drive full of BTC, worth $378 million (11.500 Bitcoin). He wants to carry out a large-scale search for lost cryptocurrency at a landfill in Wales using X-ray scanning devices and specialist AI technology, The Sun reports.


James Howells plans to carry out a year-long search of this landfill in Wales

Man who lost 11.500 Bitcoin (~ $378 million) after chucking hard drive plans landfill hunt

In 2013, 35-year-old IT worker James Howells accidentally broke a Bitcoin hard drive while cleaning his office. He then started planning his search after noticing that BTC was becoming more and more valuable. He reached out to engineers, environmentalists, and data recovery experts from around the world to conduct a year-long expert search.

Howells claims that his search plan was backed by a wealthy hedge fund. They will pay the cost, as well as find the experts and high-tech to join this journey. The condition is that they will take most of the money if found.

“Since I made the offer in January the value of bitcoin has gone up and down – if we were to recover the hard drive today it would be worth £275 million,” he said. “We have a system with multiple conveyer-belts, X-ray scanning devices and an AI scanning device that would be trained to recognize items that are a similar size and density to the hard drive.”

This would be a proper search – not just somebody going in with a bucket and spade.


There’s a chance this IT worker won’t be able to get his BTC back

Although he offered a large sum of money to the council, Howells insisted they would not agree. To search, Howells says they’ll need a scanning device worth $688,850 million, and a pollution extractor that could cost $137,770 million. Still, it would seem the council has no interest.

“If they would listen to me and hear me out they would know there’s no risk to the council. All I want is to put my case to the decision-makers and if they still say no then so be it but they won’t even do that. In January I offered them $75 million but at the moment they are saying no matter how much money is involved”, Howells explained. 

A spokesperson for Newport City Council said: “Newport City Council has been contacted several times since 2014 about the possibility of retrieving a piece of IT hardware said to contain Bitcoin. The first time was several months after Howells first realized the hardware was missing.”

The cost of digging up the landfill, storing and treating the waste could run into millions of pounds – without any guarantee of either finding it or it still being in working order.

“The council has also told Howells on several occasions that excavation is not possible under our licensing permit and the excavation itself would have a huge environmental impact on the surrounding area. Even if we were able to agree to his request, there is the question of who would meet the cost of the hard drive was not found or was damaged to such an extent that the data could not be recovered”, they said. “We have, therefore, been clear that we cannot assist him in this matter.”

Although Howells has studied aerial photographs of the site and believes the hard drive is within a 200-meter square area and possibly 15 meters deep, it seems Newport Council can’t really help him and take $378 million, worth of 11.500 Bitcoin back.

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