“Paranormal activity” in Bitcoin: unusual transactions add up to 4 BTC in commissions

Bitcoin UK
Key facts:
  • Some transactions pay commissions 23 times higher than necessary.
  • Developers claim that it may be erroneous automatic operations.

Would you pay almost $3,000 to send just over $800 worth of bitcoin (BTC)? Oddly enough, many such transactions were repeated in Bitcoin between Thursday, June 1 and Friday, June 2.

The first to draw attention to these cases was a developer known as Mononautical, who works on projects like mempool.space and Bitfeed. In a post on Twitter, he shared several 0.03 BTC and 0.02 BTC transactions with payouts of 2,300 sats/vbyte. This is 23 times what is needed for the operation to enter the next block, as shown by the mempool.space explorer.

Measuring the values ​​in US dollars, this person or company is making transfers of between USD 500 and USD 1,000 paying commissions between USD 2,000 and USD 3,000 for each of them. As crazy as it sounds. As of the evening of June 1 (UTC time), 4.3 BTC had already been spent in fees, which is equivalent to $116,475.

In his first Twitter post, Mononaut wrote “’forgot to add a change output’ strikes again”. With this, he could be referring to another curious situation that happened recently and that was reported by CriptoNoticias. In October 2022, the Nicehash pool made a mistake that prevented it from collecting the 6.25 BTC reward for block 759475. The failure was attributed to an error in entering the address to collect those bitcoins, or to the use of a script fake.

This is how the blocks in which the mentioned transactions are included look like. Source: @vostrnad / Twitter.

Theories about mystery transactions in Bitcoin

In Mononaut’s tweet, several bitcoiners began expounding their theories about what may be going on. It is most likely a mistake, they point out. Possibly, an entity that executes transactions automatically has an incorrect script, which causes it to send transactions with much higher fees than it should.

The developer himself expressed that “the volume looks like that of an exchange or a large custodian, but the activity is strange”. And he added that “the transactions are all interconnected, with many autoships through different address formats, and strange amounts of output.”

The entry of transactions with such high commissions generated images like this in the Bitcoin mempool. Source: Twitter @mononautica

Francis Pouliot, developer of Bull Bitcoin, responded: “I saw this happen 6 or 8 years ago when someone ran a Bitcoin mixer with faulty code.” In response to his message, Mononautical expressed his disbelief that “people who handle large amounts of Bitcoin have no safeguards to verify these things” and mentioned that these types of scenarios give him “nightmares” in case he ever runs a business that performs automated transactions.

Finally, it should be noted that it is not possible that it is a “hidden” or “direct” payment to a particular miner, as suggested by some responses in the tweet since the transactions are sent to the network and assigned to any miner of bitcoin. This is something you can’t choose “and multiple miners have taken them,” the post’s author explained.