When you’ve seized $64 million in Bitcoin, but don’t have the password

Angela Lang/CNET

Authorities in the Bavarian town of Kempton in Germany are in a pickle: They have in their “possession” more than 1,700 bitcoins, worth roughly $64 million, according to Coinbase, but they lack the password to access the cryptocurrency

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The police seized the bitcoins from a fraudster, who refused to give up the password, according to Reuters. The man has since served his two-year term and went the entire time without revealing the password, leaving authorities at an impasse. The police weren’t sure if the man was just withholding the password or simply forgot. 

While there are some digital wallets that allow you to reconstruct your Bitcoin holdings even if seized, it’s unclear how these were stored. 

The Bavarian Ministry of Justice wasn’t available for further comment. 

Bitcoin is among the many cryptocurrencies that have grown popular in recent years, including alternative, or “alt coin” cryptocurrency like Dogecoin. But unlike physical cash, they’re stored in digital wallets that require a password. Forget the password, and you’re out of luck. 

The value of Bitcoin has surged over the last year, peaking at $42,000 last month. It’s trading at $37,698.32 today.

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