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Drug Dealer Learns Big Lesson on Where Not to Hide Bitcoin Codes

$60M now can't be accessed after Clifton Collins stashed codes in fishing rod case that's vanished
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2020 10:15 AM CST

(Newser) – He should've stuck to his praise-winning honey. An Irish former beekeeper-turned-drug dealer is ruing the day he came up with the bright idea to stash the codes to accounts harboring close to $60 million in bitcoin in the aluminum cap of a fishing rod case—which, per the Guardian, vanished after Clifton Collins ended up getting arrested and sentenced to prison. The 49-year-old's descent into a life of crime and an ill-begotten fortune began around 2005, when he abandoned work as a security guard and beekeeper—the latter of which had earned him awards for his honey—to start growing pot full time. He rented a home in Galway, where he grew and harvested his crops, and from the ample cash he made selling the cannabis in Dublin, he decided in late 2011 and early 2012 to invest in bitcoin, which at the time was valued at $5 per coin (it's today worth more than $9,700).

The Irish Times notes that by 2017, Collins had accrued 6,000 bitcoins, all in one account, but as the price of bitcoin rose, he feared one hack job could wipe him out, so he created 12 accounts and placed 500 bitcoins in each. He was arrested later that year after cops found more than $2,100 worth of cannabis in his car and sent to prison for five years. His landlord had the home cleared out, and the fishing rod case disappeared; workers at a local dump say they remember seeing thrown-out fishing gear, which has likely been incinerated. Who may be lamenting the bitcoin loss even more than Collins: the Irish government, which can't confiscate the funds without the codes. About $1.6 million in bitcoin held in other accounts (which Collins did have the codes for) has already been seized, as has more than $100,000 in cash. (Read more bitcoin stories.)

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