TECH
27/11/2013 11:13 GMT | Updated 27/01/2014 05:59 GMT

Bitcoin Worth £4.6 Million Is Buried Under A Landfill In South Wales

A man in South Wales claims to have accidentally thrown away a hard drive containing just over £4.6 million of Bitcoin.

Luckily, he knows where the hard drive is.

Unluckily (if Reddit is to be believed) it's somewhere beneath a football field-sized pit of four-feet thick mud and landfill.

The digital currency Bitcoin is unique in that it is comprised only of encrypted data, which cannot be copied or tracked.

The "coin" is "mined" using computers to solve very difficult problems, and while each coin contains its own transaction history within the code, there is no way to know who transferred each coin or why.

As a result Bitcoin is now notorious for its frequent use in illicit transactions, even as its value skyrockets among investors and speculative traders. On Wednesday Bitcoin's value rose above $1,000 - meaning the entire market is worth more than $11 billion.

And for one man in South Wales, that's bad timing.

A post on Reddit states that the man mined 7,500 Bitcoins in the early days of the currency, when it was easy to do - and the coins were not worth very much.

Technically the coins themselves are not stored on the computer - but an encryption key for gaining access to them is. And without that the man can't open his "wallet" and access the money.

Now their value has skyrocketed... but the hard drive had already been sent to the Household Waste Recycling Centre in Newport.

The man has apparently been able to trace the drive's location to the centre - and believes the data (and his money) is recoverable, if only he can figure out a way to search through the stack and find it.

Above: the Bitcoin is located somewhere in the hazardous landfill - but there's no way to know where

A poster on Reddit called Sur-dough-nim said that he spoke to the man via IRC, and claimed the man had been to the recycling centre to look around:

"He went to the "recycling centre" and they showed him around. The hard drive, if it was there, would be buried under around 4 feet of mud and waste, in an area the size of a soccer field. The cost of closing the centre, hiring diggers, and searching for it would be too high, and then the chances of finding it are still not excellent."

Reddit's users are now attempting to devise plans to help the man recover his money - so far without success.

Still they remain hopeful:

"People don't realize how difficult it is to destroy a hard drive. You can't just throw a drive out the window, or throw it in a fire, or submerse it in water, and hope the data goes away," said one.

"The only way to permanently delete data is to overwrite it. If the data hasn't been overwritten, then it is more likely than not that it is still there."

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