BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 15:  In this photo illustration model Bitcoins standing in front of Dollar bills on February 15, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo Illustration by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 15: In this photo illustration model Bitcoins standing in front of Dollar bills on February 15, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo Illustration by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)
By Diana Crandall / October 31, 2017 9:00 am

The founder of technology website Boing Boing should’ve known better before he lost access to a small fortune in bitcoin, and he’s the first to admit it.

“Feel free to ridicule me—I deserve it. I wrote my PIN code and recovery seed on the same piece of paper. I was planning to etch the seed on a metal bar and hide it, but before that happened my housecleaning service threw the paper away,” Mark Frauenfelder recounts telling Reddit in a new article. “Now I can’t remember my password and I have tried to guess it about 13 times. I now have to wait over an hour to make another guess. Very soon it will be years between guesses. Is there anything I can do or should I kiss my 7.5 bitcoins away?”

Frauenfelder is talking about losing the secret passcode to his “hardware wallet,” which is essentially a USB memory stick that allows its user to authorize transactions and get access to their bitcoin without exposing any information to the internet where it can be stolen. His “hardware wallet” of choice was Trezor, and part of its protection is that it doubles the amount of time a user has to wait after entering an incorrect PIN code.

This could leave a thief — or a forgetful owner — waiting lifetimes to regain access to the wallet. And although his bitcoin balance was nearing $9,000 when he lost access to his wallet, it would total more than $30,000 by the time he finished his unlikely, epic adventure to get it back.