This man has just 2 guesses to recover $240 million in Bitcoin

Having forgotten the password to his encrypted IronKey hard drive, Stefan Thomas has just two guesses remaining to access his $240 million Bitcoin fortune.

by | Published on 18th Sep 2023

Imagine having just two guesses left to remember a forgotten password or you lose $240 million.

While it sounds like an epic new game show on TV, it’s not.

This is the predicament Stefan Thomas found himself in.

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The German-born programmer living in San Francisco was left with just two guesses to figure out the decade-old password keeping his Bitcoin fortune safe.

This story starts back in 2011 when Thomas uploaded a video to YouTube titled “What is Bitcoin? (v1)”.

The short clip, just over a minute in length, was made for a Bitcoin enthusiast based in Switzerland.

For his trouble, Thomas was paid in Bitcoin as compensation – 7,002 Bitcoins to be precise.

Now, if you’re familiar with Bitcoin, you’ll likely know they were only worth a measly $2 each back then.

That said, $14,004 isn’t to be sniffed at for a minute-long animation video.

The value of those same coins skyrocketed in value and it wasn’t long before each coin was worth around $34,500, meaning his collection was now worth a staggering $241,569,000.

And while it sounds like a dream, it actually turned out to be a nightmare for Thomas.

Thomas couldn’t remember his encrypted IronKey hard drive password where he kept his Bitcoin.

To add insult to injury, he’d written the password on a piece of paper to avoid a situation like this, but he’d misplaced it.

The hard drive isn’t your average bit of tech either, as it only gives you 10 guesses to figure out the password before it encrypts itself and you’re locked out.

Thomas had a go at trying to guess the password eight times, but none of his attempts were successful.

That meant he had just two guesses left before his fortune was lost forever.

Understandly, the whole order affected his mental health, with Thomas admitting he couldn’t sleep and even suffered from depression.

For now, Thomas has locked his IronKey in a secure facility – just in case.

Fingers crossed one day he has a brainwave and remembers the password to his $240 million fortune.



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Adam Gray is an experienced motoring journalist and content creator based in the United Kingdom. Using his media accreditation with motor manufacturers’ press offices, Adam test drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches, producing written reviews and news pieces for Before joining the Supercar Blondie team, Adam was Motoring Editor for Portfolio North magazine, North East Motoring Editor at Reach plc, and provided motoring content on a freelance basis to several lifestyle and business publications in the North of England. When he’s not behind the wheel of the latest car, Adam can be found at his local rink playing ice hockey or supporting his beloved Middlesbrough FC.

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