5. Murder Bit-By-Bit

What Is Cryptocurrency?

I’d like to talk about cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is a type of digital asset that is an intangible currency that uses a highly sophisticated type of encryption called cryptography to secure and verify transactions. So, what is cryptocurrency and how can mystery writers incorporate it in our books. We all use cash and credit cards. In addition, many of us have investments which, we hope, will increase in value. Cryptocurrency combines the cash, credit cards, and investments into one package. You use it to make purchases and its value can change over time.

How Do I Purchase Cryptocurrency?

Just as you buy stocks on a stock exchange, you buy cryptocurrency on a cryptocurrency exchange. You create an account and register a credit card. You then buy cryptocurrency using your credit card. On December 1, 2020 one Bitcoin, one type of cryptocurrency, sold for $19,783. Whoa, you say, that’s way beyond my budget. No problem, you can buy a partial bitcoin. So, if you want to stick your toe in the water for, say, $100, you can. When you purchase cryptocurrency, it is placed in your crypto wallet.

Now What?

Okay, you have your cryptocurrency. How do you use it? You find someone who accepts cryptocurrency as payment. If you purchased the $100 in cryptocurrency mentioned above and you want to buy an item that costs $50, you transfer $50 of your partial bitcoin to the seller’s crypto wallet. There is no government regulation or a paper or electronic trail of this purchase.

How Is Cryptocurrency An Investment

Just like other investments, cryptocurrency’s value fluctuates. That $100 you invested could be worth $125 or $75 tomorrow. Cryptocurrency is an extremely volatile investment. The chart below shows Bitcoins value from 2017 to 2020.

How Can Mystery Writers Use Cryptocurrency?

Let’s say you have a murderer who needs to purchase poison or a weapon. If he buys it in person, surveillance cameras and witnesses can identify him. If he purchases it on the web using his credit card, the purchase can be traced. He can buy it on the dark web, a network of encrypted Internet content that is not accessible via traditional search engines, most often used for illegal activities. Our criminals think their purchases will not be discovered. Not in our stories. Detectives like the Tech Squad and Sheriff Department’s officers in my Lionel Trevor/Tech Squad Mysteries can find the murderer and provide the evidence needed to convict him.

I hope this post provides information my fellow mystery writers can use. Please contact me if you are writing a story and need help when including technology in the plot.

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