Cointel flyer

Remco Bloemen

Introduction

What are Bitcoins? Bitcoin is an online currency that can be used for payments. Bitcoin is decentralized by design, that means there is no central authority that controls the currency. Bitcoin requires no government, no central bank and no mint. The security of the currency is guaranteed by innovative use of cryptographic technology.

Since it’s introduction, more than a hundred thousand merchants started accepting Bitcoins. Among these are PayPal, Microsoft and Dell. Consumers are also using Bitcoins, in the 2014’s Black Friday sale Bitcoin was a top ten payment processors, handling three hundred million US Dollars. Investors are also seeing the potential of the Bitcoin ecosystems. Venture capital investment in Bitcoin related companies has been growing rapidly, with over two hundred million US Dollars invested in the first quarter of 2015.

There are many advantages for merchants. Credit cards charge around three percent transaction fees, where Bitcoin charges less than one percent. There is no risk of chargebacks because transactions are always final. Payment processors such as BitPay offer turnkey solutions to merchants. You sign up for a free account and place the button on your website. BitPay will handle the transaction and convert to a currency of your choosing. Transactions are handled within the hour and can be made anywhere in the world.

Criminal use of Bitcoins The lack of regulations and control make Bitcoin particularly interesting for criminal payments. The currency has enabled the creation of online marketplaces for illegal goods like the Silk Road and its successors. Here all sorts of goods are traded:

and it get’s worse,

Call for tools Regulatory agencies are currently looking for an answer to Bitcoins. The Europeans Central Bank took the position that they would like to promote the innovation, but currently recommends against Bitcoin due to a lack of regulatory tools. Intelligence and law enforcement agency are also looking for tools to investigate cases involving Bitcoin payments.

Cointel.eu

The Dutch technology innovator Coblue Cybersecurity B.V. has answered the call for tools with Cointel. Launched at the Interpol World Conference in Singapore, Cointel allows investigators to track transactions through the Bitcoin system and assists in identifying the individuals behind it.

Wiki-Leaks

Take for example Wiki-Leaks, an organization that has every reason to hide it’s financials doings. On their donation page, one of the options is Bitcoin:

[Screenshot donation page, Bitcoin address highlighted]

This is the main donation address.

[Screenshot donation address overview page]

We can see

[Screenshot balance graph]

[Screenshot yearly activity]

[Screenshot daily activity]

[Screenshot geo-ip]

At the top of the page, there is a link to the entity. This will take you to the following page

Now, if you look back at the donation page, you will see a little button next to the Bitcoin address. This allows you to generate a unique new address for your donation. The supposed goal of this is to make your donation untraceable.

Example User 1

[Screenshot of yearly activity]

[Screenshot of daily activity]

Example User 2

[Screenshot of yearly activity]

[Screenshot of daily activity]

Sources