South African Man Loses $900,000 Worth Of Bitcoin After Accidentally Deleting Keys


Bitcoin holding is only as good as long as the holder does not lose their keys. It is very important when it comes to holding to make sure that one’s keys are secure. This is because once the keys are lost, there is no way to recover the lost coins. That is how secure the Bitcoin network is. This is the case of a South African man who had accidentally deleted the keys to his wallet that contained 20 BTC.

A report from MyBroadband follows the story of 24-year-old Mark Michaels (name changed), an electronic engineer from Pretoria, South Africa, who had lost the key to his wallet which had 20 bitcoins in it. Michaels had mined the BTC 10 years ago when he was still a minor and at that point, BTC wasn’t worth very much.

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Coins were still easy to mine and Michaels had mined his loot using a home computer that had an Nvidia GeForce GTS 250 graphics card. Bitcoins were not as easy to sell at that point. And according to Michaels, they weren’t worth much and he had lost interest because the computer could not be used for much else while it was mining coins.

How He Lost His Keys

Michaels had gone back to check on his bitcoins seven years after he had first mined them when BTC had hit $1,000 per coin, this is when he realized his grave mistake. Michaels posits that he had stored his mined BTC on the original bitcoin wallet software. “I believe I used the original Bitcoin wallet software,” Michaels said. “Which required a wallet key and password to access.”

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While the 24-year-old could not recall exactly how long he had mined the coins for, he believes he mined for a couple of weeks to a couple of months. At that point, he had managed to mine up to 20 bitcoins. The entirety of the coins was only worth about 58 South African cents when Michaels had mined it, which was not much.

When he went back to get the coins seven years later, Michaels released he had made a grave mistake. The hard drive where the file holding the coins was stored had been formatted. Efforts to recover the original files from the hard drive proved futile as the drive had already been formatted and written over several times at that point.

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“I remember collecting all the hard drives, memory sticks, CDs, and DVDs, in the house and carefully going through each of them. This took around a week. I also tried running data recovery software on my main hard drive, but this was not of much use. By then, that drive had been formatted and reused multiple times.”

Not Leaving Bitcoin

Michaels has already made his peace with this loss. Since he never got into cryptocurrency, for him, it was more about being able to use a cool technology. Michaels still currently owns various cryptocurrencies. Although the electronic engineer does not actively invest in crypto. It is more just “playing around on the markets and seeing how things change.”

According to Michaels, he still mines cryptocurrency, but not Bitcoin. His current mining activities focus on Ethereum. But only when his rig is not in use does he use it to mine for crypto. Michaels’ BTC would be approximately $900,000 in today’s price of $47,000 per BTC.

Michaels’ BTC would be worth ~$900,000 in today’s prices | Source: BTCUSD on

Current estimates put the number of lost BTC at 20% of the entire circulating supply of 18.5 million BTC. Most of this is from early adopters who had mostly forgotten about the cryptocurrency after acquiring it due to the value of the coins at the time. When they went back, they discovered that they had lost their keys to their wallets. A popular case of this is James Howells, who had thrown away a hard drive with 7,500 bitcoins on it.

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