James Howells: The man who ‘lost’ £125m in Bitcoins now wants £250 for a quick interview

He also claims to have the IP address of mystery Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto

This is a tale of greed, loss and disappointment, smiley face emojis and spectacular ineptitude, writes Coin Rivet’s Helen Carter.

It involves Bitcoin pioneer James Howells, an IT worker form Newport. I asked him, via Twitter, for an interview.

Sure, he replied. Then he explained that he charges a “nominal £250 fee paid in BTC or BCH for a one-hour telephone interview – reason being that it encourages people… such as yourselves, to become involved with cryptocurrency and learn how to use it themselves, as opposed to just reporting on it. :)”.

Hmm. I am unconvinced by this. Paying for people for interviews is one of those journalistic conundrums that you have to wrestle with.

On the one hand, you’ve got to make a living after losing millions of pounds of Bitcoins in a landfill incident, but on the other hand if you pay someone you are compromising the integrity of the interview. It doesn’t sit well.

But he assures me that he is “pretty sure the £250 will be worth it ?” adding that it “has to be paid in crypto”.

When asked what he will talk about, he goes on to explain that he’s been involved with Bitcoin since December 2008, which is when he first downloaded the whitepaper and software. James says he was one of the first six people to run and mine Bitcoin. He mined with his machine connected with the creator of Bitcoin – ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’.

James mined more than 7,500 coins in a short space of time. The code required to spend those coins was accidentally thrown into a landfill in 2013. The valuation at the time was roughly $10 million and by December 2017, this valuation had increased to $175 million, he claims.

The lost hard drive also contains “the real IP address of satoshi as well as the wallet file,” adding: “not that I would dox satoshi ?”.

READ: The hunt for Satoshi Nakamoto is on!

Asked how it ended up in landfill, he explained that it was “thrown out into a bin bag during a clear-out in a case of ‘mistaken (hdd) identity’ in summer 2013. There were two hdds in the same drawer, the wrong one got binned? s*** happens.”

He then added: “I would imagine similar things have happened many times up and down the country, only difference is this code turned out to be worth over £125m in December 2017.” He claims that “one day it will be worth £500m? ”.

In a previous interview, he’s indicated that he’s considered digging up the landfill in order to find the lost drive. The story’s not unique – Campbell Simpson, the Editor of Gizmodo Australia, says he threw away a hard drive in 2012 that had 1,400 Bitcoin in it.

Despite the huge setback, he’s still been involved with Bitcoin and supported BitCoinCash over the BitcoinCore version as “I believe it to be closer to the original version than the BitCoinCore development team’s vision”.

He is also leading a development team that has recently released a Point of Sale device for merchants to accept cryptocurrency payments in-store for goods purchased – similar to a chip and PIN checkout device.

When I told him we don’t pay contributors, he went quiet. Sorry James, but I figure that the publicity for your new venture on this site outweighs the value of having a £250 contribution for your interview.

Photo credit: South Wales Argus

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