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After Matthew Mellon, scion of the Mellon banking fortune, died on April 16 of a drug-related heart attack in Mexico, his family was unable to locate the pass code needed to retrieve his fortune — said to have been worth as much as $1 billion — in XRP cryptocurrency, according to the Daily Mail. Losing passwords is the kind of nightmare that haunts bitcoin investors.

In fact, there are an estimated 3 million bitcoins — totaling nearly $25 billion — lost because the retrieval codes have gone missing or the currency owners died without passing the codes onto their next of kin. Just ask James Howells — who lost a hard drive with the key to more than $60 million in bitcoin.

“I mined more than 7,500 coins over one week’s time in 2009; there were just six of us doing it at the time, and it was like the early days of a gold rush,” said the IT worker turned crypto investor, 32, who lives in Newport, Wales. “Four years later, I had two hard drives in a desk drawer.

One was empty and the other contained my bitcoin private keys,” Howells recalled. “I meant to throw away the empty drive — and I accidentally threw away the one with the bitcoin information.” In 2008, bitcoin’s alleged creator Satoshi Nakamoto published an open-source code through which bitcoins are “mined” by solving complex calculations, embedded throughout the Internet, via extremely powerful computers. Read more from…

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