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Y3llowl4bs: Cryptocurrency scam investigation | Recover stolen bitcoin

Bitcoin Investigations - How to trace bitcoin addresses.

Bitcoin offers a unique opportunity for financial investigation in that an amateur can easily research a given person’s bitcoin usage. The most basic framework of financial investigation consists of identifying a target, searching for negative information about them or their past, identifying the target’s associates, and then searching for negative information on them. Bitcoin lends itself perfectly to this kind of investigation.

Background information on bitcoin

For those that have no knowledge of bitcoin here is the necessary background information before we start. Bitcoin is only one of many cryptocurrencies. For the purposes of this post, we will focus only on bitcoin. Bitcoin, by design, makes the person anonymous but all of their financial transactions are public.

If, for example, someone named Asma wants bitcoin she must get a “wallet,” which will contain one or several bitcoin “addresses.” An address can hold money, send money to another address, and receive money. Asma’s bitcoin activity is public, but her name and identity are theoretically anonymous.

In a scenario where we are given a specific bitcoin address (whether it is anonymous or owned by a known business associate), the following are steps that we can take to investigate and trace bitcoin addresses.


How to trace bitcoin addresses



The Blockchain itself is complex and beyond the scope of this post, but its website, Blockchain, is a useful tool. The site allows one to look up a bitcoin address and see all of its past financial transactions in addition to how much currency it currently owns. Every transaction, each time the bitcoin address sent or received money, is listed along with the date, the amount of money transferred, as well as the bitcoin addresses that sent and received the money.

Below is an example of how one transaction is displayed on

This may appear confusing but it is quite simple if you know what you are looking at. Below is the same transactions but I put colored rectangles in the photo to make it more easily understood. Each transaction has a unique string of numbers and letters (in the red rectangle below) that identifies a specific transaction. This transaction ID is known as a “hash.” Bear in mind that in other contexts, the word hash is used differently.

The bitcoin addresses are also identified by random strings of numbers and letters. The string in the orange rectangle is the ID for a bitcoin address. The address in orange is sending money to a second address that is in a green rectangle. The orange address is sending 0.1988 bitcoin. Note that the acronym used in the photo “BTC” just means bitcoin. A small amount of the bitcoin will go to a fee (seen below the orange address) and the remainder will go to the green address.

The number to the write of the green address is the amount received after the fee. And finally on the top right is the date and time of the transaction. For further investigation click on the green address to see what happened with the money next, or click on the orange address to try to find where the money came from.

Note that bitcoin has “exchanges” where people buy and sell bitcoins. If you find a bitcoin address that has conducted hundreds of thousands of transactions, it is probably owned by exchange, not a person. If you want to be sure try googling the bitcoin address because many exchanges publicly identify their addresses.

Use Wallet Explorer to find other wallets

Each bitcoin address is contained in a wallet that may have more addresses. Walletexplorer allows one to find the wallet containing the address of interest (the wallet has its own unique number to identify it). This site also allows one to find if there are other addresses in the same wallet. If there are other addresses in the same wallet this means that the person that same person owns the wallet and all of the addresses in it. Therefore, finding the wallet is a great way to find if the owner of one address is also the owner of others.


Another interesting blockchain explorer is the “open exploration tool” (OXT), an exploratory blockchain analysis tool. Just like any other blockchain explorer OXT can display transactions happening on the Bitcoin network. However, the website also analyzes different types of behavior on the Bitcoin blockchain using various charting and plotting tools. This includes temporal charts covering fees, transactions, scripts, and more. OXT also offers to scatter plots as well giving a different perspective on transaction and bitcoin address behavior.

Other popular blockchain explorers that provide similar transaction data and some charts include Blockcypher, Insight, Blocktrail, and Sochain. Each explorer shows blockchain data a little different but more or less contains the same information about transactions.

Network Statistics Charts and Plotting Tools


The website has a lot of real-time Bitcoin network statistics. The website’s individual dashboards show node counts, bandwidth usage, fee estimates, system metrics, mempool data, and more. Grafana has been around for a few years now, and each dashboard display shows various charts that analyze particular sections of the network and protocol’s behavior.

Bitcoin Wisdom

Bitcoin Wisdom is also another charting website that’s been around for quite some time. The website’s price charts are one of the most popular sections within the web portal. Bitcoin Wisdom’s price charts display various exchanges including Bitstamp, BTCC, Kraken, Bitfinex, and more. Furthermore, Bitcoin Wisdom also shows other statistical data such as network difficulty, and the past and present hash rate.


Another website that reports statistical Bitcoin network data includes Tradeblock. The Tradeblock engine offers a wide variety of graphical charts displaying both historical and current Bitcoin statistics. The website’s interface displays the mempool count, blocks mined, transaction count, and many more useful network diagrams. Tradeblock also monitors the Ethereum blockchain and has its own blockchain explorers as well.


Blockseer is another exploratory blockchain tool that wants users to “follow the bitcoin.” The tool shows a visual interpretation of transactions on the network alongside the connections each transaction has with individual addresses. The site traces bitcoin origins and follows the path of bitcoins traveling throughout the blockchain using a visual diagram.

Websites That Track Nodes

Node Counter

Node Counter is an analytical website that tracks Bitcoin nodes throughout the network. This includes Bitcoin Classic, Bitcoin Unlimited (BU), XT, and Core nodes in a graphical setting. Each table shows various nodes within the network alongside pools signaling alternate Bitcoin clients and block size proposals. Node counter displays data using both line graphs and pie charts as well.


21 Inc’s Bitnodes is another popular node tracking website that displays various charts and graphs concerning Bitcoin network nodes. The site gives a current network snapshot and also a search engine to check on node status. Bitnodes also displays Classic, BU, Core, and XT nodes within the network.

Coin Dance

Last but not least in the node counting realm is the website Coin Dance which shows various summaries and charts concerning nodes across the network. The graphical interface also charts the different node implementations like Core and XT with many types of charts. Furthermore, Coin Dance is a popular site for many other statistics such as Localbitcoins and Paxful volumes, and even charts on political opinions in regards to Segregated Witness, Emergent Consensus, and the most recent UASF (BIP 148) support from well-known industry businesses.

Visualizing the Bitcoin Network, Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

All of these monitoring websites offer a different view of the network, and each one has various merits depending on what you’re looking for. The information these tools provide can improve our relationship with the network by getting a better understanding of what’s going on. A graphical display is sometimes a better method for people interpreting network activity and the protocol's behavior.

The Internet of Money’s transaction value lookup where users can look up the value of a transaction in the past.

The Internet of Money also has a tool section and various statistical information that can be found on our website as well. Using our transaction value lookup tool simply add a bitcoin transaction TXID and find it’s price in the past. For those who are extremely passionate about the subject of Bitcoin, there’s plenty of statistics and information to gather each and every day.

Top comments (1)

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Sharon Lewis


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