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Author Topic: What happens if I mis type a bitcoin user's address when sending money?  (Read 2105 times)
gigabytecoin
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April 19, 2011, 09:29:29 AM
 #1

Say for example I want to pay a seller on a forum for an item.

I copy and paste the seller's bitcoin address, but after pressing ctrl+v to paste their address they added an extra v to the end of their address.

What will happen when I send bitcoins to their address + v?

What if somehow they deleted their first character as well by accident so that the address was a perfect length?

Would the transaction simply remain in bitcoin purgatory?
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eMansipater
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April 19, 2011, 09:31:23 AM
 #2

The client will detect this and not send anything.  It is comparatively hard to "accidentally a real bitcoin address."

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gigabytecoin
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April 19, 2011, 09:38:29 AM
 #3

Just attempted to alter my bitcoin address and the check mark went from green to nothing. Apparently the bitcoin client already protects you from such stupidity!
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April 19, 2011, 09:40:37 AM
 #4

It could conceivably happen, but the large majority of typos will result in an invalid address. For example if the 1 is not at the beginning it will not send. But there are more checks, some kind of checksum digits (at the end? I dunno). Also there are many valid lengths, can't remember the exact range.

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fabianhjr
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April 19, 2011, 02:43:58 PM
 #5

Yes, it could happen and it is extremely unlikely. The address uses the first 4 digits of the checksum, sha-256(sha-256(key) concatenated with the address hash RIPEMD-160(SHA-256(key).[1] Though, I don't know if it applies to new addresses who's public key is unknown.

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April 19, 2011, 04:47:40 PM
 #6

As others have said, it's hard to typo an address in such a way that it'll go nowhere instead of where you meant it to go.

Much more likely is a typo in the amount. The client does nothing to protect you from adding an accidental digit or two to the end of what you meant to send.
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April 19, 2011, 10:30:35 PM
 #7

But if you do happen to produce a valid address, the money will be sent there, and whoever owns that address will get the money, if no one owns it, the money will be "lost"; there is a small chance someone in the future will create a new address that will match that typo, in that case, that person will "find" the money.

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eMansipater
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April 20, 2011, 04:11:47 AM
 #8

But if you do happen to produce a valid address, the money will be sent there, and whoever owns that address will get the money, if no one owns it, the money will be "lost"; there is a small chance someone in the future will create a new address that will match that typo, in that case, that person will "find" the money.

If by "small chance" you mean that every single person on earth doing this continuously until the end of our universe is still unlikely to "find" it, then sure.

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gigabytecoin
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April 20, 2011, 05:55:14 AM
 #9

But if you do happen to produce a valid address, the money will be sent there, and whoever owns that address will get the money, if no one owns it, the money will be "lost"; there is a small chance someone in the future will create a new address that will match that typo, in that case, that person will "find" the money.

If by "small chance" you mean that every single person on earth doing this continuously until the end of our universe is still unlikely to "find" it, then sure.

So the answer is that the money truly would be "lost in transmission" then. Some sort of bitcoin purgatory if you will?
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April 20, 2011, 05:59:00 AM
 #10

But if you do happen to produce a valid address, the money will be sent there, and whoever owns that address will get the money, if no one owns it, the money will be "lost"; there is a small chance someone in the future will create a new address that will match that typo, in that case, that person will "find" the money.

If by "small chance" you mean that every single person on earth doing this continuously until the end of our universe is still unlikely to "find" it, then sure.

So the answer is that the money truly would be "lost in transmission" then. Some sort of bitcoin purgatory if you will?

It wouldn't be 'lost' we'd all know there were coins assigned to that address, it's just that no one will ever have the key to unlock that address.

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ByteCoin
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April 20, 2011, 06:40:42 PM
 #11


It wouldn't be 'lost' we'd all know there were coins assigned to that address, it's just that no one will ever have the key to unlock that address.

It's probably not impossible, it's very likely to be very unlikely. So for example the address 1111111111111111111114oLvT2 has a hash160 of 0 and a balance of 0.02 bitcoins. It's likely that about 79,228 million million million million different public keys have this hash.
If you were to keep generating public keys at random or by exhaustive search you just have to find just one of those 79,228 million million million million that hashes to 0 then you can claim the money.
It is possible that no public key would have a hash160 of 0 in which case spending the money is impossible. It is very unlikely however.

ByteCoin 
gigabytecoin
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April 21, 2011, 07:28:25 AM
 #12

But if you do happen to produce a valid address, the money will be sent there, and whoever owns that address will get the money, if no one owns it, the money will be "lost"; there is a small chance someone in the future will create a new address that will match that typo, in that case, that person will "find" the money.

If by "small chance" you mean that every single person on earth doing this continuously until the end of our universe is still unlikely to "find" it, then sure.

So the answer is that the money truly would be "lost in transmission" then. Some sort of bitcoin purgatory if you will?

It wouldn't be 'lost' we'd all know there were coins assigned to that address, it's just that no one will ever have the key to unlock that address.

Ok so not lost then, but irretrievable. Wink

I always hated that show anyways.
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