Follow the Leaders: Tracking Offenders through their Bitcoin Wallets (par Décary-Hétu, David)
Décary-Hétu, David & Mathieu Lavoie
International Conference on Cybercrime And Computer Forensic, Vancouver, Canada
Bitcoin is a virtual currency that was launched in 2009 by an anonymous creator known under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Over the past 7 years, the currency has been adopted by millions of people who have brought the combined value of bitcoins to over $5.6 billion USD. Bitcoin has been praised by some for its transparency as all bitcoin transactions are collated in a centralized ledger that can be accessed by anyone at any given time. This ledger contains information on the amount of bitcoins transferred as well as the bitcoin wallet identification numbers of the sender and the recipient. Bitcoin has at the same time also been criticized for the anonymous nature of its bitcoin wallets, the online accounts where bitcoins are stored. It is indeed trivial to create bitcoin wallets and to transfer bitcoins in and out of them. At no point is it required to link personal identifiable information to these wallets. This feature has transformed bitcoins into a popular currency for offenders who use it to receive extortion ransoms and payments for the illicit goods and services they provide online. This research builds on a bitcoin crawler developed by Mathieu Lavoie that links together bitcoin wallets that have been used concurrently to make a transfer. This allows for the tracking of offenders who advertise their bitcoin wallet identification numbers to receive payments from their extortion schemes or illicit goods and services they have sold. Through this tracking, patterns of use of bitcoins by offenders will be mapped and the life-cycle of online scams will be analyzed.
This content has been updated on 8 August 2016 at 17 h 44 min.