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Settle an argument for me. Assume a criminal does the following:

1: goes thru trash to find a cancelled check 2: using a wifi hotspot like McDonald's and "Hide my ass" buys bitcoins with stolen bank info 3: sells bitcoins and transfers money to his personal account.

Which step does he get caught?

My friends says he gets away with it, I say he gets caught when he sells them. Who's right?

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If he has bad luck, step 1. Searching through and taking some garbage is often contrary to administrative law. – unor Feb 19 '14 at 21:50

Most sites that sell Bitcoin for cash require more information than just "bank info" in order to run the transaction. So the scenario you outlined is not quite complete for the purposes of "not getting caught".

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To elaborate, most exchanges now have a KYC policy that requires new users to send a scan of their passports to activate their accounts, I believe in countries that don't track the current residence of residents (e.g. the USA) you are also required to provide proof for your address. – Murch Feb 18 '14 at 22:09

Assuming the criminal has enough information to complete step (2) successfully (complying with regulatory/identification requirements using a stolen identity, probably not just a bank account number), then the probability of getting caught through the bitcoin transactions alone is low. For further dissociation, the criminal could send the newly-purchased coins to a mixing service before transferring them into his own wallet.

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