German authorities have confiscated 1,700 BTC amounting to $60 million from a Bitcoin fraudster. However, the police are unable to access it after the suspect refused to divulge his private key.
The unidentified man from Kempten, Bavaria was sentenced to jail in 2019 and has since served his term for covertly installing a software on strangers’ computers to harness enough power to mine Bitcoin.
Throughout his sentence, the suspect kept his silence as the German authorities struggled to crack the code to access his digital wallet. For two years, the police tried and failed to access the suspect’s account that contained $60 million worth of Bitcoin.
According to German prosecutor Sebastian Murer, he and his team repeatedly asked but the suspect refused to give them his private key.
‘Perhaps he doesn’t know’, Murer said in an interview with Reuters.
The German authorities are still keeping the Bitcoins in custody and have no intention of returning it to the suspect.
Forgetting private keys
Accounts of crypto investors losing their private keys and hardware wallets have circulated in cryptocurrency news sites since the last decade. One of the recent incidents involves one Stefan Thomas, a German-born programmer living in San Francisco, California.
In a report released by The New York Times, Thomas was said to have only two guesses left to figure out the password of his digital wallet that contained $220 million worth of Bitcoin fortune.
According to Thomas, he would usually lie in bed and think about new strategies to decrypt his password and unlock his digital wallet.
‘I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again,’ Thomas lamented during an interview with the Times.
Brad Yasar, an entrepreneur based in Los Angeles, suffered the same fate as Thomas. Yasar also lost his password years ago and has since stored his hard drives containing his coins in vacuum-sealed bags, keeping it out of sight.
‘Through the years, I would say I have spent hundreds of hours trying to get back into these wallets,’ Yasar said. He added that he doesn’t want to be reminded of what he lost because he has simply forgotten his password.
With Bitcoin’s decentralized nature, there is no company to provide or troubleshoot the problems Thomas and Yasar are facing.
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