BBC technology journalist and frequent blockchain conference attendee Monty Munford lost £25,000 after storing his Ethereum private key in an unencrypted Gmail draft.
Munford, 58, revealed in an article for the BBC how he dived into the cryptocurrency space in 2017, proceeding to purchase Ethereum before storing it on MyEtherWallet.
He stated that he “made the fateful decision” to store his private key in his Gmail drafts in order to make it easier to copy and paste it when he wanted to access his wallet.
It wasn’t until a few months later when Munford attempted to cash out his Ethereum – which incidentally had lost much of its value after the January 2018 bubble had popped – when he realised that all of his digital tokens had been siphoned out to another wallet.
How I lost £25,000 when my cryptocurrency was stolen:https://t.co/yLn86SGqJd
(by me for @bbc) pic.twitter.com/ex31H3DkX1
— Monty Munford (@montymunford) August 16, 2019
“I saw with horror that all of my Ethereum – about £25,000’s worth – had already been taken out; the cupboard was bare,” he wrote.
“It had been moved to another private key address and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. There seemed to be no-one to complain to.”
He contacted Binance after it emerged that the Hong Kong-based exchange was the recipient of the stolen coins, but he only received a response once an Action Fraud crime number was attached.
Binance investigated and found that the stolen tokens were linked back to a generic IP address in Holland, although personal identification was impossible to find.
While the investigations continue, the money remains stolen and is unlikely to ever be returned.
This example demonstrates how important it is for cryptocurrency investors to retain ownership of their private keys.
The QuadrigaCX scandal at the start of the year reiterated this after the exchange’s CEO, Gerald Cotten, passed away, effectively locking up more than $100 million as he was the only person with access to the private keys.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.