Imagine having $234 million. Now imagine having $234 million you can't get to and might lose it forever. This is what's happening to Stefan Thomas of San Francisco. Thomas has a digital wallet with about 7,002 bitcoin. Just how much is that in American dollars. How about $234 MILLION! Yeah, this dude has $234 million, but he can't get to it and he's about to lose it forever.

Thomas has a private key that locks his account on an encrypted hard drive. The problem is, he can't remember the password. He is given a total of ten guesses and he's already used eight. Yup, some simple math shows he's down to just two more guesses because that hard drive locks for good. Bitcoin isn't decentralized, so there isn't a work around here. You can't click a "Forgot Password" link and get a temporary code, or have the system ask your mother's maiden name. Once you go through your ten guesses, that's it. It's locked. Thomas has said:

I would just lay in bed and think about it.  Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn't work, and I would be desperate again.

There was a period in my life that I honestly couldn't remember my debit card's PIN. Rather than trying to reset it, I just went around running my debit card as a credit card so it required a signature. At that time I think I averaged a total of about $50 in my account. I can't imagine not being able to access $234 million.

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