The Bitcoin bust that took down the web's biggest child abuse site.
It's a long read, but well worth it. The story of how investigators followed Bitcoin transactions to bring down a large child abuse site.
Bitcoin isn't as anonymous as most people think:
Within a few years of Bitcoin’s arrival, academic security researchers—and then companies like Chainalysis—began to tear gaping holes in the masks separating Bitcoin users’ addresses and their real-world identities. They could follow bitcoins on the blockchain as they moved from address to address until they reached one that could be tied to a known identity. In some cases, an investigator could learn someone’s Bitcoin addresses by transacting with them, the way an undercover narcotics agent might conduct a buy-and-bust. In other cases, they could trace a target’s coins to an account at a cryptocurrency exchange where financial regulations required users to prove their identity. A quick subpoena to the exchange from one of Chainalysis’ customers in law enforcement was then enough to strip away any illusion of Bitcoin’s anonymity.
Warning: there's some disturbing content in the article. It's depressing to read about these people.