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Author Topic: Legality of withdrawing stolen Bitcoins  (Read 701 times)
raze
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April 22, 2013, 02:09:50 AM
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I've been wondering quite a lot about this hypothetical situation. Situation: someone steals Bitcoins from one address, sends them to another address, then exchanges those Bitcoins for a fiat currency from an exchange.

Is there any way that they could be held liable for the theft, or are they protected by the general pseudonymity that exists within the Bitcoin network? (i.e. It couldn't be known that the supposed thief wasn't just sent the coins for whatever reason)

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Unlike traditional banking where clients have only a few account numbers, with Bitcoin people can create an unlimited number of accounts (addresses). This can be used to easily track payments, and it improves anonymity.
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anderl
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April 22, 2013, 02:40:21 AM
 #2

I've been wondering quite a lot about this hypothetical situation. Situation: someone steals Bitcoins from one address, sends them to another address, then exchanges those Bitcoins for a fiat currency from an exchange.

Is there any way that they could be held liable for the theft, or are they protected by the general pseudonymity that exists within the Bitcoin network? (i.e. It couldn't be known that the supposed thief wasn't just sent the coins for whatever reason)

it would require some computer forensics and computer security gymnastics to be able to get them back.  Legally there is no law protecting your asset.  cryptocurrencies are the wild west right now and everything is more or less unregulated.  buyer AND seller beware.  Protect yourself as much as possible.  Unless it goes mainstream and the dumb joe gets on board there is no legal statutes or penalties.  At most you could get them on hacking your account, data and possibly identity theft but most law enforcement organizations are so computer illiterate that it would be difficult to get anything out of them.

At some point security firms will appear out of the cryptocurrency economy like Wells Fargo did in the Old West.  They will protect your coins for a small fee.  You can choose to hire them for protection or take the risk of fending for yourself. 

But risk is where the money is made.
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April 22, 2013, 03:42:06 AM
 #3

The same thing occurs today with marked bills.  Once they are found in the wild someone traces where they came from and back to the source.  This is far easier to do with all the transactions residing on the block chain.  So if you happen to be in the chain then someone might come asking you questions.

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April 22, 2013, 04:54:17 AM
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I don't think it is that simple because you if someone steals a TV from you, that isn't currency either, but they can be prosecuted.  Bitcoins are electronic but they still have value adn I think you could sue someone who stole them and would be up to judge or jury to decide...and DA to decide whether or not to bring charges.
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April 22, 2013, 05:33:50 AM
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Someone steals 100 BTC. He sends all of it through SatoshiDice, SRoulete, SPoker, Satoshi-gambling etc. He wins back 50 BTC, or 25 BTC or even 10 BTC. Then he sends what's left through Mt. Gox, BTC-e, Vircurex, etc. He trades low, and buys high. He cashes that out.

How are you going to trace all that?

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April 22, 2013, 05:36:58 AM
 #6

forget it.

there is NO jurisdiction over bitcoins.

the law is of the countries, but math based coins are located everywhere.
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April 22, 2013, 05:41:06 AM
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Quote
Legally there is no law protecting your asset
Wtf? It is theft, no matter if it is bitcoin or not.
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April 22, 2013, 05:42:05 AM
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Very interesting!
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April 22, 2013, 06:50:05 AM
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It is theft, but how in the hell are you going to explain that to the police?? "This guy stole this cryptocurrency from me, that only exists in the block chain and only has record there" The police are going to arrest YOU for sounding like a crazy fucker to them. LOL probably not, but I think since this is such a new, community regulated thing, that they would have no idea what to do, IF they could do anything at all.

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April 22, 2013, 12:05:44 PM
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They will compare it to "regular" crimes, like violent crimes, murder, rape.... They will ask "Did someone get hurt?" ... What? Someone stole your zennys or gold or plat? (game currencies).

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April 22, 2013, 12:22:48 PM
 #11

Theft is a crime, an old one. The incompetency of the police does not make stealing bitcoins legal
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April 22, 2013, 12:43:48 PM
 #12

I've been wondering quite a lot about this hypothetical situation. Situation: someone steals Bitcoins from one address, sends them to another address, then exchanges those Bitcoins for a fiat currency from an exchange.

Is there any way that they could be held liable for the theft, or are they protected by the general pseudonymity that exists within the Bitcoin network? (i.e. It couldn't be known that the supposed thief wasn't just sent the coins for whatever reason)

One only needs a small transformation to show the silliness here:

 "I've been wondering quite a lot about this hypothetical situation. Situation: someone kidnaps orphans from one country, sends them to another country, then exchanges those children for a fiat currency from a crime syndicate.

 Is there any way that they could be held liable for the kidnapping? Because if not, I'm totally doing it...
"

Criminal theft starts at "someone steals" in the quote above. There have been people that have had coins stolen without justice, but there is a non-zero chance you will steal the coins of someone that will identify you and feed you to fishes too.

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April 22, 2013, 01:45:17 PM
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It's easy to make BTC untraceable. You have just to buy LTC,sell LTC for NMC and sell NMC for BTC.  Grin
raze
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April 24, 2013, 12:28:10 PM
 #14

I've been wondering quite a lot about this hypothetical situation. Situation: someone steals Bitcoins from one address, sends them to another address, then exchanges those Bitcoins for a fiat currency from an exchange.

Is there any way that they could be held liable for the theft, or are they protected by the general pseudonymity that exists within the Bitcoin network? (i.e. It couldn't be known that the supposed thief wasn't just sent the coins for whatever reason)

One only needs a small transformation to show the silliness here:

 "I've been wondering quite a lot about this hypothetical situation. Situation: someone kidnaps orphans from one country, sends them to another country, then exchanges those children for a fiat currency from a crime syndicate.

 Is there any way that they could be held liable for the kidnapping? Because if not, I'm totally doing it...
"

Criminal theft starts at "someone steals" in the quote above. There have been people that have had coins stolen without justice, but there is a non-zero chance you will steal the coins of someone that will identify you and feed you to fishes too.



I think for your transformation to be applicable, it needs to at least be in the same ball-park. I'm sure most (if not all) countries have clearly defined human trafficking laws, where the laws surrounding computer fraud are hazy at best. If you then take those hazy laws and add Bitcoin to it, I'd say it becomes quite easy to get away with a few shady things.

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PPC -- PRpKGjgjNLFv8eR7VVv7jBaP8aexDFqk4C
loucy
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April 24, 2013, 01:14:32 PM
 #15

IANAL. And what I think applies to german law.

Technically, "stealing" bitcoins is not theft, because nothing is actually stolen. What happens is that the "thief" creates a new transaction using your keys. And this is where the "thief" is doing something illegal:
- he gets access to your keys, which is "Ausspähen von Daten"
- he uses your keys to create a new transaction, which in turn means that you can no longer create your own transactions (using your coins), which is "Computersabotage".

Either is a criminal offense (in germany).
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April 24, 2013, 01:19:13 PM
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Don't worry - the Governments will be trying to play catch up for years!
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April 24, 2013, 01:34:20 PM
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Great, Ozcoin pool owner recieved over 500 stolen btc back from StrongCoin: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=14085.msg1910231#msg1910231
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