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Author Topic: Criminal Wallet Address Database?  (Read 2339 times)
amazingfunksta
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June 15, 2011, 08:10:55 PM
 #1

In light of the individual who just had his account hacked and 500k worth of bitcoins stollen... I thought of an idea.

We know the wallet address that recieved the funds... Since we know the wallet address, couldn't we track the transactions this guy makes and note them somewhere? It's very likely that eventually, the individual exposes his identity by ordering something. It would be possible to track the exchanges made to and from the address that recieved the stolen funds.

Perhaps there should be a database that tracks addresses known to be involved with theft such that merchants would have the option to check addresses and help catch the criminals. Although, it would have to be designed so that it could not be abused such that the likelihood of it being used to harm someone innocent is minimalized.

Just an idea.
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Each block is stacked on top of the previous one. Adding another block to the top makes all lower blocks more difficult to remove: there is more "weight" above each block. A transaction in a block 6 blocks deep (6 confirmations) will be very difficult to remove.
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ryepdx
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June 15, 2011, 08:14:38 PM
 #2

Perhaps there should be a database that tracks addresses known to be involved with theft such that merchants would have the option to check addresses and help catch the criminals. Although, it would have to be designed so that it could not be abused such that the likelihood of it being used to harm someone innocent is minimalized.

You have my sword.
airdata
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June 15, 2011, 08:43:16 PM
 #3

If you have 500k worth of btc stolen from you do you jump out of a window or do you just cry yourself to sleep at night for the next decade?
TheVirus
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June 15, 2011, 08:51:46 PM
 #4

I can write something that can make it easy to track transactions if there's enough interest *cough*donate*cough*.  Grin

Donations welcome: 1H8Pj3qYqfzxqgHzMLLsL6hWGEN88QLdkb
amazingfunksta
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June 15, 2011, 09:12:16 PM
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I can write something that can make it easy to track transactions if there's enough interest *cough*donate*cough*.  Grin

I was thinking of something along the lines of an online community site. Thefts would be reported and then there would be some way to clarify that they were actually stolen. Whenever a merchant is about to make a sale, they can type in the address they recieve the transactions from to see if it's associated with an address known to have stolen funds.

This would make it easy for us to report thefts to law enforcement and eventually return the funds to their proper owner. A detective for hire site if you will? There needs to be some sort of mechanism to protect private property ^_^. 

tehcodez
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June 15, 2011, 09:17:53 PM
 #6

Infeasible.

Why wouldn't [the criminal] launder it? Why wouldn't [the merchant] accept it?

You might be able to "taint" the chain, but given the network, infeasible.
 
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June 15, 2011, 09:18:49 PM
 #7

It seems to me preventing abuse would be very, very difficult.

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amazingfunksta
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June 15, 2011, 09:26:10 PM
 #8

Infeasible.

Why wouldn't [the criminal] launder it? Why wouldn't [the merchant] accept it?

You might be able to "taint" the chain, but given the network, infeasible.
 

The criminal could launder it to another account, but all the transactions that are made from the account are known... so it will also be known what addresses the bitcoins are sent to from the fradulant account as well. The individual who stole the funds would eventually be pinpointed. Also... if it's known the address stolen funds are associated with, merchants could decide to refuse business if they want.

But yeah, obviously, there would be a lot of problems with application. Just trying to think of a way to address theft.

It seems to me preventing abuse would be very, very difficult.

I agree with this, I was just putting ideas out there.
jerfelix
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June 15, 2011, 09:29:49 PM
 #9

I can write something that can make it easy to track transactions if there's enough interest *cough*donate*cough*.  Grin
Boy, this is tough.  Do I comment on the concept of someone named TheVirus writing code....
or, TheVirus saying *cough* *cough* ....
tehcodez
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June 15, 2011, 09:31:51 PM
 #10

Infeasible.

Why wouldn't [the criminal] launder it? Why wouldn't [the merchant] accept it?

You might be able to "taint" the chain, but given the network, infeasible.
 

The criminal could launder it to another account, but all the transactions that are made from the account are known... so it will also be known what addresses the bitcoins are sent to from the fradulant account as well. The individual who stole the funds would eventually be pinpointed. Also... if it's known the address stolen funds are associated with, merchants could decide to refuse business if they want.

But yeah, obviously, there would be a lot of problems with application. Just trying to think of a way to address theft.

It seems to me preventing abuse would be very, very difficult.

I agree with this, I was just putting ideas out there.

Well, at least we you don't know what laundering is, or how it works here in btc land.
Drifter
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June 15, 2011, 09:42:06 PM
 #11

Next question is, how do you prove it is actually stolen? Some people would lie about this, to either try and get their legitimately spent money back, to tarnish a name, to get a story publicized...etc.

rebuilder
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June 15, 2011, 09:55:19 PM
 #12



The criminal could launder it to another account, but all the transactions that are made from the account are known... so it will also be known what addresses the bitcoins are sent to from the fradulant account as well. The individual who stole the funds would eventually be pinpointed. Also... if it's known the address stolen funds are associated with, merchants could decide to refuse business if they want.


How do you distinguish between a thief sending some BTC to an address of their own vs. them paying someone for something with those coins? If you start to refuse tainted coins and can't make that distinction, you end up punishing people who were simply unlucky enough to get paid with stolen coins.

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amazingfunksta
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June 15, 2011, 10:16:17 PM
 #13

Well, at least we you don't know what laundering is, or how it works here in btc land.

Quote
Money laundering is the practice of disguising the origins of illegally-obtained money. Ultimately, it is the process by which the proceeds of crime are made to appear legitimate. The money involved can be generated by any number of criminal acts, including drug dealing, corruption, accounting and other types of fraud, and tax evasion.[1] The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication from simple to complex.

I'd say that since all transactions can be viewed by everyone on the network... it's pretty hard to launder the money. I guess they'd send the funds to Mt Gox and cash out and then buy back in at a different address? At that point, I guess there isn't much you could do. Although, if there was a way to report theft in a reliable manner without it being susceptible to abuse, the individual would have to tie cashing out from Mt Gox with a name and and an account of some sort such as Dwolla. I think it would be entirely possible to trace the laundering route.


Next question is, how do you prove it is actually stolen? Some people would lie about this, to either try and get their legitimately spent money back, to tarnish a name, to get a story publicized...etc.

I agree, abuse would be a problem. Perhaps you'd have to make an actual police report and provide evidence you did so there would be legal ramifications for lying? I have no clue... once again, I'm just trying to have an open brainstorming session here. I want to hear everyone's ideas.

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How do you distinguish between a thief sending some BTC to an address of their own vs. them paying someone for something with those coins? If you start to refuse tainted coins and can't make that distinction, you end up punishing people who were simply unlucky enough to get paid with stolen coins.


This is also a very good point. The goal of this database would be to assist the catching of thieves, not to demonize people recieving tainted coins. The transactions obviously wouldn't be demanded to be reversed. It would merely be used to help pinpoint the person who originally stole the funds and perhaps assist in bringing them to justice.

lemonginger
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June 15, 2011, 10:41:39 PM
 #14

I'd say that since all transactions can be viewed by everyone on the network... it's pretty hard to launder the money. I guess they'd send the funds to Mt Gox and cash out and then buy back in at a different address? At that point, I guess there isn't much you could do. Although, if there was a way to report theft in a reliable manner without it being susceptible to abuse, the individual would have to tie cashing out from Mt Gox with a name and and an account of some sort such as Dwolla. I think it would be entirely possible to trace the laundering route. ween a thief sending some BTC to an address of their own vs. them paying someone for something with those coins? If you start to refuse tainted coins and can't make that distinction, you end up punishing people who were simply unlucky enough to get paid with stolen coins.

Please read this thread and understand what is and isn't possible w/rt laundering and anonymity in bitcoinland.

http://forum.bitcoin.org/?topic=241.0
snowboard789
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June 15, 2011, 10:47:12 PM
 #15

im missing something here...

why would he use this exact address ever again and not pick a new one from his wallet's next addresses?

anewbie
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June 15, 2011, 10:59:39 PM
 #16

im missing something here...

why would he use this exact address ever again and not pick a new one from his wallet's next addresses?



Every bitcoin can be traced back to the block that created it, by tracing the public chain of transactions.  If someone has stolen coins, the address they are sent to is visible in those transactions.  To spend those coins, they must be pulled from that address.  They can't use a different address from their wallet.  You can create a new address to receive coins, but spent coins come from the specific addresses that own them.

So, where those stolen coins go will be public, but as others have pointed out, there are relatively simple ways to obfuscate that trail so much that it becomes impossible to track them down to the individual that stole them.

amazingfunksta
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June 15, 2011, 11:17:23 PM
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So, where those stolen coins go will be public, but as others have pointed out, there are relatively simple ways to obfuscate that trail so much that it becomes impossible to track them down to the individual that stole them.

Yeah, the individual would have to be stupid enough to attach his real ID to one, or a few of his addresses in some shape or form and make a transaction where his real identity is known. Probably multiple transactions to acquire a reasonable burden of proof.
ryepdx
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June 15, 2011, 11:36:04 PM
 #18

Inferences can also be made based on how and where a person spends their money. Won't be enough nail a person, but it could narrow things down. Also, if there were a watchdog group with widespread exchange cooperation, that person would be stuck either selling their tainted coins on the black market or never converting to another currency. If they were stupid or unlucky enough to use a cooperative exchange, the jig would be up.
lemonginger
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June 15, 2011, 11:52:53 PM
 #19

Inferences can also be made based on how and where a person spends their money. Won't be enough nail a person, but it could narrow things down. Also, if there were a watchdog group with widespread exchange cooperation, that person would be stuck either selling their tainted coins on the black market or never converting to another currency. If they were stupid or unlucky enough to use a cooperative exchange, the jig would be up.

Person A has 200 stolen bitcoins
Person A also has 1000 bitcoins spread over 5 other wallets that were not stolen
Person A sends 1200 bitcoins into coin mixer from 6 different addresses and outputs them to 2 new addresses with random amounts and over a period of time -- it then looks indistinguishable from many legitimate transactions
(Meanwhile in the real world, Person B, C, D, E, and F may also be doing the same thing with the coin mixer and the coin mixer may be doing it with another coin mixer)

How do you track the stolen money without also harming anyone anywhere that unknowingly accepted "tainted" coins.

Unless people simply stopped taking any coins that had even gone through an anonymous node (ie; only accepting BTC that could be tied to a person or a trusted user everywhere along the chain) there is simply no way to implement this.

--

This is one of the things that makes BTC so scary for law enforcement agencies and also one of the reasons that I think that bitcoin theft through trojans, viruses, phishing, etc will be a huge problem and that secure (and insured) bitcoin banks will def. emerge and be used
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June 16, 2011, 12:09:17 AM
 #20

Most probobly a payment to a merchant would be made with partially tainted and partially clean bitcoins.  As time goes on more and more transactions each would have a small amount of taint in them.  And we are supposed to do something about this?

This is exactly how real world cash works as well.  I bet some of the cash in your pocket (if you have any) has at once time been either stolen, used for drugs or other illegal acts.  Cash is that way. 

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