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Following the Money

When a bitcoin purchase or trade is made, there are slight amounts of the information left behind that can lead investigators to the owner of the virtual currencies.  When you start looking deeper into this information, then you have the chance at finding the address and tracking down where the money is headed.

One tool that you can use is bitcoin block explorer which summed up is a bitcoin tracker.  You insert the unparsed address, and the website will tell you how much and at what time the transaction went through.  Along with that information, it will also show you any other details of the transaction, including messages that were connected to it.  Typically, if the sender wants the leftover bitcoin from their transaction, but they have to include that in the contract so there are usually three addresses in the contract.

Blockchain Explorer can also search based on the seller or receivers name; it can then show you all the transactions related to the individual’s code that you searched on.  The results then show you anybody that has exchanged multiple bitcoin transactions with that specific individual.  The people that show up more than a few times could be doing some illegal business with them.  These are then the transactions that you need to go deeper into and see what it is this person is potentially selling.

To use clusters the return address is looking for the repeating address which occurs in most of the transactions. This is most likely the individuals return address for the leftover bitcoin.  If you find someone trying to filter all the funds down to one address, they are probably trying to get all there change into one account.

When dealing with Ethereum, there is no such thing as clusters because there is never leftover change to return to your return address.  You exchange the exact amounts of Ethereum, and there is only one transaction in and out and no leftover currency to return to anybody.  With these currency exchanges, it goes from one address to another and for the exact amount of the transaction.  If wallet A contains 5$(Ethereum) and you purchase an item for 2$(E) the transaction would directly take 2$(E) out of wallet A and place it in wallet B.

Even though bitcoin and other digital currencies are secure enough to use for international transactions, there are still digital footprints left behind that cannot be completely covered up.  These footprints can lead a path straight to the buyer or seller.  The transaction prices can be seen as well, and if enough have been made, sometimes we can even locate where the transactions are coming from.

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