What To Do When You Lose Your Bitcoin Vault Password

When bitcoin topped the $15K mark in December, according to the digital-currency site The Coin Offering , financial experts weighed in on investing in the cryptocoin — or not. Some called it a scam, and other said it’s the time to buy.

Notwithstanding which faction you’re on, something is certain. Misplacing your bitcoin would be damaging. Some people have done that, and they’re not lonely. Since the cryptocurrency was created in 2009, people have lost about 2.75 million bitcoins. That’s around $30 billion — billion with a ‘B’ — today.

Some of the wild ideas people have to retrieve lost bitcoin include a landfill, hypnotherapy and an orange slip of paper.


James Howell, a British IT worker, starting digging bitcoin on his computer in 2009. His laptop crashed in 2013 but Howell held onto the hard drive in bitcoin was worth something one day. It was.

During housekeeping one day in 2013, Howell placed the hard drive into a trash receptacle at the town’s landfill in South Wales. It got buried.

With bitcoin then hovering just over $15,000 Howell’s 7,500 lost cyber coins were worth over $17 million.  Howell wanted to try combing through the dump which holds about 350,000 tons of waste, but the local city council wouldn’t hear of it.

Even if the drive were found, it probably wouldn’t operate after being imperiled by waste for so long.


Many beginning speculators are in a conundrum. They forgot the complicated codes originally formed to obtain access to their wallet. And there’s no way to restore the key once forgotten.

But there is a reason to be hopeful. A South Carolina mesmerist, James Miller, recently starting helping people remember their forgotten passwords.

“I’ve built a lot of ways,” says Miller. “My skills permit people to retrieve old memories and see items they’ve put away.

Miller prices his service for one bitcoin, plus 5% of any recovered with his service. Miller told a South Carolina newspaper his charges are “negotiable.”


A former Wired editor, Mark Frauenfelder scribbled his key on an orange PostIt note in January 2017. In March, Frauenfelder and his spouse took off to Tokyo for a holiday. A month later, when they returned home, he saw his orange note had disappeared.

Frauenfelder wrote in the password as he remembered it and got an error message: Wong PIN.

Frauenfelder tried three more times before a countdown timer appeared. The timer made him wait a few seconds before trying again. The delay grew each time the incorrect PIN was attempted, and Frauenfelder kept trying from April through August.

Reaching out to a teenage hacker and coding wizard, Frauenfelder was promised a video showing him how to use a weakness in the vault system.

Frauenfelder agreed to pay the teen the equivalent of $3,500 in bitcoin and, following the directions, Frauenfelder was able to access his PIN, open the wallet and relax as “Months of soul-crushing anxiety fell away.”

Have you lost your bitcoin? Scour the digital pages of The Coin Offering. Your answer may be found.

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