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Not every golden opportunity turns into gold.
For a treasure hunter like Rodrick Dow Craythorn, 52, of Utah, USA, finding buried jewels proved to be a liability.

He was charged with archeological trafficking and damaging of public property for his diggings in the Rocky Mountains. On 4 January, he pleaded guilty to the charges before the US District Court of Wyoming, according to a news release from the US Department of Justice.

Craythorn dug at the Yellowstone National Park between 1 October 2019 and 24 May 2020 to find New Mexico art dealer Forrest Fenn’s buried chest filled with more than $2 million worth of gold coins, diamonds, emeralds and other gems. Since the jeweler announced the treasure chest in 2010, gold hunters had been searching for it.

Unfortunately for Craythorn, Fenn’s grandson, Jack Stuef, 32, beat him and all other hunters to the treasure site in Wyoming on 6 June, more than two months before Fenn died. Worse, he is now facing $250,000 in fines and potentially up to 10 years of imprisonment for desecrating graves at Fort Yellowstone Cemetery in his search for Fenn’s treasure.

Meanwhile, a British treasure hunter plans to follow the footsteps of Craythorn, but with a careful strategy to avoid putting himself in the same predicament as the American.

James Howells, a 35-year-old IT guy from Newport, Wales, is offering to pay $70 million to the city council for permission to dig up a portion of a landfill to find what he’s looking for.

However, the money, which is equivalent to a fourth of the value of his “treasure,” will be sourced from the latter. Thus, if he doesn’t find it despite a permit to dig, payment is doubtful.

So far, the council is refusing his offer made several times since 2014. One official said such undertaking is very expensive because aside from excavation, storing and treating the waste entail cost. Moreover, excavation has an environmental impact and there is no guarantee of finding the fortune.

Howells is looking for a hard drive that he accidentally disposed of in 2013. The hard drive is where he saved 7,500 Bitcoins. Valued at more than $36,400 each today, his virtual money is worth $273 million.

Assuming Howells finds his hard drive but fails to retrieve the Bitcoins, his efforts will still go to waste.

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