Bitcoin is known for cloaking the identity of people who use it to make anonymous transactions. But in the case of the 12 indicted Russians who are accused of interfering in the 2016 United States presidential election, investigators can use Bitcoin as a tracking device, navigating the blockchain through a trail of transactions to prove guilt.
In a new report from Vice, the myth that Bitcoin transactions are “100% anonymous” is completely shattered.
Blockchain developer Tim Cotten shows how forensic analysts can use public blockchain information to trace Bitcoin purchases to the GRU, Russia’s intelligence agency.
“It is not a good idea to commit crime with Bitcoin because the moment you have one single weak link in your operational security, all of your history is now exposed. As we’ve seen in case after case, indictment after indictment, where they’re shutting down drug trading, exchanges that are operating illegally, it’s not just traceable – it’s trivial to trace these things.”
In the video below, Cotten walks through how a subpoena would allow law enforcement to find out exactly who made a specific Bitcoin transaction on a certain day, ultimately identifying the person by their name, date of birth and legal residence.
Says Cotten, “Someone with enough time and dedication will be able to trace your path back.” What’s better for anonymity? Fiat in the form of cold, hard cash.