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HomeNewsMillions lost: lawsuit against Ethereum Foundation | 08/07/21

Millions lost: lawsuit against Ethereum Foundation | 08/07/21

• Couple owns 3,000 ethers, but without access to wallet
• Lawsuit against Ethereum Foundation
• Crowdfunding campaign launched to cover legal fees

Couple buys 3,000 ethers in advance

In 2014, the Ethereum Foundation started a pre-sale to raise urgently needed money for the further development of the cryptocurrency and the platform. A couple from the USA, Yuki and Art Williams, took advantage of this opportunity and bought 3,000 ethers for 1.5 Bitcoin, which at the time was worth around 932 US dollars, as reported by ABC7-News. Obviously something went wrong with the purchase, as the couple have not been able to get their money since then. The two can see the 3,000 ethers in their wallet, but have no access and cannot open them.


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Missing password for wallet

Everyone who took part in the pre-sale of Ether around seven years ago would have had to download a JSON file that contained the private keys to the wallet. However, the Williams state that they never received this file. As Art Williams recently explained to ABC7-News, there should have been a notice at the time not to turn off the PC for a certain time while the file was being downloaded: “The instructions were to leave the computer on for an hour and a half, and when the progress bar indicated that it was filling, the JSON file would appear. Unfortunately, it did not appear “. However, this reference, which Art Williams speaks of, cannot be found in various archive versions of the website, as the online magazine Mashable found out. In addition, the JSON file is a small text file that only takes a few seconds to download, even with a poor internet connection. A tutorial on YouTube, which explains the purchase process at the time, also emphasizes again and again that the JSON file should be downloaded in any case before you send your Bitcoin to the foundation. Only in the next step is the address given to which the coins are to be sent for payment. The story of the Williams does not seem to be entirely conclusive.

Lawsuit against Ethereum

The Williams still fight for their 3,000 ethers. In the aftermath of the failed purchase process, Art Williams sent the Swiss-based Ethereum Foundation the proof of purchase and screenshots to prove that something went wrong. Since the foundation did not send a backup JSON file in spite of everything, the couple hired a law firm in Switzerland. In an email from 2018 that ABC7-News received, the Williams legal team announced that they had been able to speak to the foundation’s lawyer and they were trying to restore the corresponding JSON file. Two weeks later, the attorney reiterated that the foundation was doing its best to restore the file, but it would take time. A subsequent settlement offer by the Swiss arbitration authority in the amount of 2,750 Ether Coins came to nothing, reports ABC7-News. Some time later, the Ethereum Foundation legal team stated: “We are still of the opinion that Ethereum accepts no liability for lost wallets, passwords and private keys”.

Now the Williams want to collect 250,000 US dollars via crowdfunding so that they can then bring the Ethereum Foundation to an international court, according to ABC7-News. However, given the facts, the lawsuit is unlikely to be successful. In addition, the Ethereum Foundation should probably no longer have the corresponding JSON file with the password, because then it would have access to all wallets. The 3,000 Ether-Coins from Williams, which would now be worth around 8 million US dollars, should be lost.

Finanzen.ch editorial team

Hasan Sheikh
Hasan, who loves technology and games, is studying Computer Engineering at Delhi JNU. He has been writing technology news since 2016.


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