An American family purchased 3,000 ETH in the 2014 presale, now worth a staggering US$5.8 million. Shockingly, they cannot access this fortune because of a password issue.
Yuki and Art Williams, of Washington DC, jumped at an opportunity to purchase 3,000 ETH coins in 2014 during a pre-sale offered by the Ethereum Foundation, the price of which has since skyrocketed. The couple used Coinbase and spent 1.5 bitcoin (BTC) to make the purchase.
The family claims that a password was created, but the all-important JSON file was never completely downloaded online. A JSON file is a small file that acts as a private key used to open a crypto wallet. The coins appear in the wallet, but the wallet cannot be opened.
The instructions were to leave your computer on for an hour and a half and as the progression bar showed it populating the JSON file would appear. Unfortunately for us, it did not appear.Art Williams
Devastating Loss for Williams family
According to Art Williams, the foundation’s presale website instructed him to email the Ethereum Foundation, following which it would send an email containing a backup JSON file. This, however, did not happen.
Following this, Williams contacted the Swiss-based foundation to hand over proof of purchase and screenshots indicating the issue he was experiencing. When he did not hear anything back from the foundation, Williams contacted a law firm in Switzerland in 2018 to explore a solution to their problem.
Discussion of a settlement offer was reported, but since then the foundation has told Williams’ legal team that Ethereum has “no liability for lost wallets, passwords, and private keys”.
Making Sense of It All
It is clear that the Williams family has been pursuing this issue for years without success. Media company Mashable has been able to find what it believes to be the Williams wallet, which does in fact contain 3,000 ETH. The coins have remained untouched since July 30, 2015 – the actual date of the ETH launch.
Comments on the Etherscan transaction page confirm that the account belongs to Art and Yuki Williams. But some aspects of this saga do not make sense. A JSON file is a very small file and should take less than a few seconds to download.
The fact that the ETH presale page told Art Williams to wait “an hour and a half” for the file to download also makes no sense. A search of previous versions of the ETH presale page did not reveal any such indication.
‘Not Your JSON, Not Your Coins’
Speaking to Mashable, author and crypto critic David Gerard issued concerns regarding cryptocurrencies. Gerard explained that once you have spent fiat currency on digital coins, you should not expect anything in return. He added that once you buy a coin, your cash money is gone.
When investing in crypto, you worry about a bad investment and in the worst-case scenario you may lose your money entirely. This seems to be what has happened to the Williams family.
News such as this instills pain like that of British IT manager James Howells, who in 2013 accidentally threw out a hard drive containing 7,500 BTC.
Adding insult to injury, ETH is becoming increasingly scarce given its astronomic growth performance recently. Currently, there is less than 20 million ETH available on all crypto exchanges.
[It’s] devastating, to say the least. Obviously, that’s life-changing money.Art Williams
By Jana Serfontein, Crypto News Guest Author
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