IT worker despairs after he throws digital fortune out with the rubbish

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A frantic IT worker is hunting for a £4m-plus digital fortune he inadvertently 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 thrown out by mistake.

Mr Howells started generating the previously almost-valueless electronic bitcoins on a website in January 2009.

When he stopped later that year, because his Dell laptop started to overheat, he had a digital wallet containing 7,500 of the then worthless virtual currency.

When he later spilled drink on the unused computer he broke it up and sold off the parts, but made sure he put the drive in a drawer.

That was where it remained until this summer when it was inadvertently binned during a clear-out and disappeared into a nearby landfill site.

“I kept the hard drive in a drawer in my office for three years without a second thought – totally forgot about bitcoin all together,” he said.

“Fast forward to 2013 which is when I had a clear-out of my old IT equipment. I hadn’t used this drive for over three years, I believed I’d taken everything off it ... so it got thrown in the bin.”

Site managers said items binned so long ago may now be buried under several feet of newer rubbish.

“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’,” he said.

The value of a single bitcoin recently reached $1,000 (£614) for the first time – meaning Mr Howells’s personal digital fortune could be about £4.6m.