Desperate Bitcoin Investors Who Forget Their Passwords Are Resorting to Hypnotherapy

December 20, 2017, 9:48 AM UTC

Help is in sight for that batch of early-Bitcoin-adopters who are sitting on untapped bounties because they’ve forgotten the passwords needed to get into their ‘wallets’.

A hypnotist in South Carolina has recently begun offering to help people recall forgotten passwords or find misplaced storage devices. Jason Miller charges one bitcoin plus 5% of the amount recovered–though he claims that rate is flexible.

“I’ve developed a collection of techniques that allow people to access older memories or see things they’ve put away in a stashed spot,” he told The Wall Street Journal.

A number of investors who bet on Bitcoin years ago are now in a painful limbo. In the way that bank accounts are protected by passwords, Bitcoin wallets that use ‘keys’ to transact are also typically guarded by complex security codes. However, unlike a bank, Bitcoin has no central hotline to call for a reset.

Elon Musk tweeted last month that he’d misplaced part of his bitcoin, and many other bitcoin owners have watched in similar distress as the price of the cryptocurrency surged over 20-fold at times this year to more than $19,000. On Tuesday morning, it was trading at $18,000.

One such mourner is Mr. Philip Neumeier, who bought 15 bitcoins for roughly $260 in 2013, when he was toying with the idea of accepting the virtual currency on his e-commerce site, reports the WSJ. Now that his cache’s value is nearly $300,000, he’s trying to recover that long-forgotten password. Though he considered hypnosis to help recall the subconscious memory, he decided instead to build a supercomputer that tries to use “brute force” to crack the code.
The brute force required is hot and heavy work, and so the five foot-tall computer system sits in a 270 gallon tank of special mineral water to disperse the heat it generates, says the WSJ. Mr. Neumeier suggests it might even take a few hundred years to run through every possible combination of letters, numbers and symbols.“I should probably be about 332 years old by then—hopefully bitcoin will be worth something,” he said to the WSJ.
The WSJ reports another case of a father who wiped the old laptop where he kept his password. Youssef Sarhan is live-tweeting his saga.
“It’s a slippery slope to going crazy,” Mr. Sarhan said to the WSJ. “It’s like trying to crack open your own brain.”
However, even he won’t be able to help James Howells, a British IT worker who says he threw away a hard drive with 7,500 bitcoins on it in 2013, and is now trying to work out how to locate the hard drive in the landfill site where he believes it’s buried. They were worth $130 when he threw it away – and they’re worth $126.7 million now.