A German-born programmer living in San Francisco, Stefan Thomas, faced a nerve-wracking ordeal when he found himself with only two chances to recall a forgotten password or risk losing access to a Bitcoin fortune valued at a staggering $240 million.

Thomas’s Bitcoin journey began in 2011 when he created a short explanatory video titled “What is Bitcoin? (v1)” and uploaded it to YouTube. This video was made for a Bitcoin enthusiast in Switzerland, who compensated Thomas in Bitcoin for his efforts. At the time, each Bitcoin was worth a mere $2, and Thomas received 7,002 of them. This payment was initially valued at $14,004, which was a decent return for a minute-long animation video. However, the true wealth lay in the future.

As the years passed, Bitcoin’s value soared, with each coin eventually reaching approximately $34,500. This astronomical increase in value turned Thomas’s initial compensation into an eye-popping fortune of $241,569,000.

Now, while this may sound like a dream come true, Thomas’s situation took a nightmarish turn when he realized he had forgotten the password to his encrypted IronKey hard drive, where he had securely stored his Bitcoin. Adding to the misfortune, Thomas had originally written down the password on a piece of paper but had since lost it.

The IronKey hard drive is known for its extreme security features. It allows only ten incorrect password attempts before it permanently encrypts its contents, rendering them inaccessible to anyone, including the rightful owner.

Desperate to regain access to his fortune, Thomas made eight unsuccessful attempts to guess the password, leaving him with only two tries remaining before his substantial wealth would be forever beyond reach. Speaking about the situation in 2021, Thomas expressed the toll it took on his mental well-being, saying, “I would just lay in bed and think about it. Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again.”

He elaborated further on the impact it had on his mental health, revealing, “I was absolutely desperate. I couldn’t sleep for nights. I even suffered from depression. But much worse than the loss of the money was my self-reproach: I simply couldn’t believe I had lost something so important. I felt like a complete idiot; my self-esteem was in the basement.”

For now, Thomas has chosen to store his IronKey in a secure facility, providing him with a bit of peace of mind. He remarked, “I got to a point where I said to myself, ‘Let it be in the past, just for your own mental health.'”

Thomas’s story serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable and sometimes unforgiving nature of cryptocurrency investments, where the loss of a password can result in the forfeiture of substantial wealth. It also highlights the importance of secure and reliable methods for managing digital assets in the ever-evolving landscape of cryptocurrencies.