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Tommy Thompson holds a $50 pioneer gold piece retrieved earlier that year—1989—from the wreck of the SS Central America.

Just like any treasure hunt, the details are sketchy, a modern-day version of a deserted island map, with an X marking the spot. But here’s what we know.

Back in 2010, famed treasure hunter Tommy Thompson told his girlfriend to show up to a self-storage facility in Fort Lauderdale. She had briefcases—they can’t recall how many—holding 150 pounds in gold coins.

Five hundred coins, to be exact—worth at least a couple million.

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Thompson, now 66 and sitting indefinitely in federal prison, and his girlfriend say she passed the briefcases to someone Thompson found online, representing a company that was supposed to keep them safe. Maybe keep them in the storage facility. Maybe take them to Belize.

And from there, who knows what happened with the gold? Perhaps Thompson and his girlfriend made up the story to keep the fortune for themselves. Possibly, the person who took the coins made off like a bandit.

Or maybe, after continuing on with this story, by reading between the lines of Thompson’s tale, you’ll know exactly where to find the gold.

Before you start putting Xs on a map, here is a bit of background on Thompson. It begins in the mid-’80s in Columbus, Ohio, a Rust Belt city suffering at the time from a string of major closures. Westinghouse and the Ohio Penitentiary were among the places where thousands got pink slips.

Maybe after a string of bad luck, people in Columbus were ready for a get-rich-quick plan—which is what Thomas G. “Tommy” Thompson offered them....

In August 1991, Tommy Thompson, left,

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