German prosecutors have confiscated over EUR 50 million worth of bitcoin from a fraudster. Just one problem – they can’t unlock the money because he won’t hand over the password.
The man was sent to jail and has since served his prison sentence, maintaining his silence while police made several failed attempts to crack the code to access more than 1,700 bitcoin, said a Bavarian prosecutor.
“We asked him but he didn’t say,” Prosecutor Sebastian Murer told Reuters. “Perhaps he doesn’t know.”
Bitcoin is stored on software known as a digital wallet that is secured through encryption. A password is used as a decryption key to open the wallet and access the bitcoin. When a password is lost the user cannot open the wallet.
The fraudster had been sentenced to more than two years in jail for covertly installing software on other computers to harness their power to “mine” or produce bitcoin.
When he went behind bars, his bitcoin stash would have been worth a fraction of the current value. The price of bitcoin has surged over the past year, hitting a record high of $42,000 in January.