White hat hacker attempts to recover ‘millions’ in lost Bitcoin, finds only $105

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Joe Grand, a computer engineer and hardware hacker known by many for recovering crypto from inaccessible places, spent hours breaking into a phone only to find a fraction of the bitcoin.

In a YouTube video released Thursday, Grand traveled from Portland to Seattle to recover “millions of dollars” in bitcoin (BTC) from a Samsung Galaxy SIII phone owned by local bus operator LaVar Sanders. Sanders originally bought BTC in July 2016 in a “super sketchy” way, paying a person at a cafe and storing the crypto in a wallet on the phone before putting it in storage and losing track of the device.

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After finding the phone in 2021, Sanders couldn’t remember the Swipe password, but did remember to set the wipe data option when too many missteps were made. He and a friend of his connected with Grand after discovering his YouTube video, which allowed the white hat hacker to get into the phone’s memory and make several attempts to recover the crypto.

After some micro soldering, downloading memory, and searching for Samsung’s swipe pattern for access – which turned out to be the letter “L” – Sanders opened his MyCelium bitcoin wallet and discovered only 0.00300861 BTC – which at the time was worth $ 105 USD, down approximately $63 USD at the time of publication. Grand was later able to determine that the bus operator bought $400 worth of BTC in 2016, most of which went to a crypto mixing service called Bitblender, which was shut down in 2019.

“I’m a little devastated,” Sanders said. “We didn’t make money, but we definitely made new friends.”

related: Engineer hacks Trezor wallet, recovers $2 million in ‘lost’ crypto

Many crypto users have been locked out of their wallets or otherwise lost access to physical devices holding BTC over the years – one of the most famous examples being a Welsh man who dumped a hard drive containing 7,500 bitcoins in 2013, whose The price is now over $150 million. However, several hackers and engineers specializing in crypto recovery services have come out in response.