The 'HACKER' number plate seen on one of the luxury cars seized from Kim Dotcom was owned by a self-described geek who refused to sell - until the money was too good to turn down.

University of Auckland systems administrator Clark Mills owned the plate for about 20 years.

For Mills, the attachment was such he didn't want to sell it, although he had been slightly uncomfortable about how the meaning of the word had changed since he first bought it. "I didn't feel that good driving around with it. 'Geek' would be a good plate for me," he said.

And then he was called by staff at Personalised Plates with a $5000 offer.


"I said 'thanks, that's a nice offer but I like my hacker plate'."

A few months later he was offered $10,000, and then $15,000. Eventually Mills said: "Make it $20,000 and I'll do it."

The actual exchange wasn't much easier than the deal. With an anonymous buyer, Mills wasn't keen to hand over the plate until he got the cash.

Likewise, the buyer wanted the plate before he handed over the money.

Mills solved the problem by setting up a Trade Me auction with a "Buy Now" of $20,000.

With the deal done, Mills' IT-savvy friends quickly tracked the buyer's account to Dotcom.