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Law Office of Lily L. Huang

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Bitcoin: hiding assets electronically

At the Law Office of Lily L. Huang in California, we sympathize with you if you strongly suspect that your spouse is attempting to hide marital assets from you so that (s)he will obtain a better property settlement than (s)he would if your family’s true financial situation were known. While suspicious spouses have struggled for years to discover and document hidden assets, today’s technology makes it even more difficult to do so. Are you aware of Bitcoin?

Per, Bitcoin is the oldest and most popular of today’s cryptocurrencies, those ever more ubiquitous virtual currencies that people can buy, sell, invest in, obtain goods and services with, and easily hide from others. Unlike “real” money that you can see and touch, cryptocurrencies exist only as computer file entries.

How to buy Bitcoins

Buying Bitcoins is exceptionally easy. Simply search for an online Bitcoin exchange, pick one that appeals to you, and start an account. All you need is an email address, which may or may not reveal your identity. Most U.S. Bitcoin exchanges require you to link your account to a debit or credit card or a bank account, but this is not universally true. In addition, foreign Bitcoin exchanges seldom require such linkage. Consequently, your Bitcoin account, or that of your asset-hiding spouse, is virtually anonymous.

Another way to buy Bitcoins is with cash. Believe it or not, there are numerous Bitcoin ATMs throughout the country where you can withdraw cash which you then deposit into your Bitcoin exchange seller’s branch bank account. Once your deposit shows up in his or her account, (s)he transfers the equivalent Bitcoins to your Bitcoin wallet.

Bitcoin wallets

No, a Bitcoin wallet is not the same as an ordinary wallet. Rather, it is an electronic file. Many Bitcoin owners have several wallets, some of which are “located” in foreign countries. Wallet files physically “reside” on any of the following:

  • Computer
  • Laptop
  • Tablet
  • Smartphone
  • Thumb drive
  • External hard drive

Because your spouse can give his or her Bitcoin files lengthy, complex, and non-intuitive names, you stand little chance of finding them even if you have access to all of his or her electronic devices. After all, it is not at all uncommon for an electronic device to contain thousands upon thousands of files. Your best strategy may be to hire a forensic accountant especially trained to search out and find hidden assets.

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