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  1. ITV Report

Man's £4m bitcoin fortune lost in rubbish dump

James Howells threw away the hard disk containing the bitcoin this summer. Photo: Athena Picture Agency

An IT worker is hunting for a £4 million-plus digital fortune he mistakenly threw out with the rubbish.

James Howells, 28, would be a bitcoin multimillionaire if he could lay his hands on the computer hard drive containing his fortune.

But the digital cash is lost in a mountainous landfill site in Newport, south Wales where bin men took it after it was accidentially thrown away during a clear-out.

ITV News Midlands Correspondent Rupert Evelyn reports.

Howells generated 7,500 of the previously worthless electronic bitcoins on a website from 2009, but that amount of the virtual currency is now valued at around £4.6 million. He told BBC Wales online:

I kept the hard drive in a drawer in my office for three years without a second thought - totally forgot about bitcoin all together.

When I found out what the price was, I realised the coins I have 'mined' were on the drive I had thrown away.

The hard drive is thought to be buried beneath several feet of landfill. Credit: Athena Picture Agency

Bitcoins have radically increased in value due to the original website's popularity and the fact companies around the world increasingly accept them as payment.

But Howells said he does not have the means to undertake a potentially arduous and expensive search for his fortune, explaining:

When I went to the tip the manager took me up to the current landfill site and when I saw it - it's about the size of a football field - my first thought was 'no chance'.

The manager explained that things that were sent to landfill three or four months ago could be 3 to 5ft-deep. He confirmed my worst fears when he said that.

Officials at the dump have warned people they will not be given access to search for the buried treasure.