Drug dealer loses $58M in bitcoin after landlord accidentally throws codes out

The codes were printed onto a piece of paper and stuffed into a fishing rod case.

Daniel Van Boom Senior Writer
Daniel Van Boom is an award-winning Senior Writer based in Sydney, Australia. Daniel Van Boom covers cryptocurrency, NFTs, culture and global issues. When not writing, Daniel Van Boom practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, reads as much as he can, and speaks about himself in the third person.
Expertise Cryptocurrency, Culture, International News
Daniel Van Boom
2 min read

Bitcoin is currently worth over $9,700.

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Between 2011 and 2012, Clifton Collins bought 6,000 bitcoin using money he earned from growing and selling marijuana, reports The Irish Times. At the time, the cryptocurrency's price varied between $4 and $6. Today it stands at over $9,700. But Collins, who is 49, isn't enjoying any euphoria for the windfall -- because his landlord threw out his bitcoin codes.

The Irish Times reports that Collins was arrested in 2017 for growing and selling marijuana and was subsequently hit with a five-year prison sentence. Following this, his landlord sent many of Collins' possessions to a local dump during the process of clearing out Collins' room. One such item was a fishing rod case, which housed a piece of paper with €53.6 million ($58 million) in bitcoin codes printed onto it.

Cryptocurrency is bought through so-called cryptowallets. Once you buy bitcoin, the cryptowallet issues you a code required to access it. Anyone who gets that code can access and potentially steal the cryptocurrency, so buyers are usually encouraged to hide their codes somewhere safe.

In 2017, Collins spread his 6,000 bitcoin across 12 accounts to guard against losing his crypto-fortune, according to the Times. He printed out the codes to his bitcoin stash on a piece of paper, the same paper he stuffed into the aforementioned fishing rod case.

The past few years have seen others lose digital fortunes even greater than Collins' $58 million. A man in the UK accidentally threw out a hard drive storing $127 million worth of bitcoin codes. Gerald Cotten, owner of a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange, died in December 2018, leaving behind $190 million in cryptocurrency for which he had the only password.

In what's likely little consolation, Collins wouldn't have been able to cash in his bitcoin even if the paper hadn't been lost to the dump. Ireland's Criminal Asset Bureau seized the cryptocurrency, on the grounds that its purchase was funded by illicit activity, The Irish Times reported Friday.

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