In a case that has once again highlighted the risks associated with improper storage of digital assets, an Irish drug dealer who was convicted by the country’s court lost access to his bitcoins worth 53.6 million euro.
Clifton Collins, a 49 year old Irishman was arrested for drug-related offences in 2017 in Wicklow. Prior to being sentenced to a 5 year prison term, Collins apparently has been dealing in cannabis and amassed millions some of which he invested in Bitcoin.
According to a report by the Irish Times, Collins bought most of his cryptocurrencies in 2011 and 2012. He had accumulated some 6000 bitcoins and stored the codes in a fishing rod container before he was arrested.
Apparently, while in prison, his property was moved to make way for another tenant. Since no one was aware that the Bitcoin codes were stored in a paper in the fishing rod box, they were discarded in a dump.
It became obvious that the funds have been lost after the law enforcement agency, Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) that ceased his funds tried to access them.
Much of what he has told the law enforcement officers has been supported by witnesses. These are mainly those who cleared his house, his landlord and others who helped him break up his bitcoin fortune into 12 accounts.
He had had fears that having all his 6000 bitcoins in a wallet was too risky. To avoid losing them to hackers, he split them equally across 12 wallets containing 500 bitcoins each.
The hoard would have been the largest asset seizure by the Criminal Assets Bureau in its 25 years of existence. Officers are hoping that advances in technology would help access the coins in future even as Collins has given up hope of ever getting the codes.
According to the news portal,
“The Dubliner is a former security guard who briefly became a beekeeper and won awards for his honey before he turned his attention to growing cannabis for more than a decade. Collins had much smaller amounts of bitcoin in other accounts, valued at €1.5 million, that the Cab has been able to access. Those bitcoin and more than €100,000 in cash has been seized from him.”