A British man who threw away a hard drive containing bitcoins worth $7.5 million has started searching his local landfill in an attempt to find it again. James Howells amassed 7,500 bitcoins in 2009, but disposed of the hard drive they were stored on earlier in 2013 after it sat unused in a drawer for three years.
A bitcoin is now worth $1,000, but Howells' 7,500 were obtained at a time when they were nearly worthless. Howells — who says he'd "never thrown a hard drive out before" — had dismantled the computer he'd used to collect them after spilling a drink on it, eventually disposing of the drive in a "clearout of old IT equipment." Shortly afterwards, Howells says his curiosity was piqued after reading stories about the virtual currency, including one about a Norwegian man, Kristoffer Koch, who'd bought $27 of bitcoin at the same time as he had. Koch's investment was worth $886,000; Howells' is worth much more, but can't be reached without access to the wallet file on the hard drive.
The hard drive could be "3 to 5 feet deep" in garbage
Howells isn't optimistic about his chances of recovering his bitcoins. According to BBC News, he was told by the dump's manager that his million-dollar drive "could be 3 to 5 feet deep" in the landfill the size of a soccer field. Officials who search the landfill for evidence in criminal cases do so "with 15 to 20 people in full protective gear with diggers and dogs as well." Howells says he doesn't have the means to dig into the potentially hazardous waste "without a definite paycheck at the end of it."