The sale was not legit, it should not stand. The rest of the rollback is fuzzier, but on this gentlemans coins, a seizure should occur.
I'm still confused about whether or not bitcoin transactions are traceable. If they have deniability, it might be impossible to prove/disprove that you knew the goods were stolen.
Of course, I am neither a lawyer nor a crypto specialist and this isn't legal advice.
(In particular, the rules vary depending on whether the property is realty, on whether you have a Torrens system, whether you have fused equity and what your local courts and legislatures have decided).
This rule only applies in some law systems. Where I live you need both to perform all the reasonable checks and 3 years time to become the owner of the stolen property.
If the original owner shows up before 3 years have passed then you have to get back whatever you have bought. This happens even if you have performed all of the reasonable legitimacy checks.
One exception is land registration - entries in the public land register (even those obtained illegally) protect the purchasers from claims by the original owners (this does not apply to bad faith buyers.)
Say I am 99 years old and have only one week left to live. What if I go on a car stealing spree and steal Porsche cars for my extended family. Then I sell it to them for a symbolic 1 cent each, claiming that I have collected them over my lifetime and now want my family to benefit.
You, the thief, are still on the hook for your crime.
The buyer, if they really are a bona fide purchaser for value without notice, is not.
Your family would probably not meet the test, as this would be the first time they've heard of the Porsches.
I can't imagine that it works that way. I can believe that as a buyer of stolen good without knowing they were stolen, you won't be punished. But you will still have to return the stuff. I am not a lawyer either, though.
If it works as you describe, let's found a guild of 99 year old Robin Hoods...
Note "for value". If the price is unrealistically cheap, the courts can point out that the buyer should have been suspicious.
> I can't imagine that it works that way. I can believe that as a buyer of stolen good without knowing they were stolen, you won't be punished. But you will still have to return the stuff.
You don't have to return it, it's yours now. The point is that the bona fide purchaser is not a criminal and acted in good faith. If, however, there is the slightest whiff of a hint of a suspicion, those bona fides collapse and title reverts to the original owner.
It is harder to prove bona fides than you might think. Got a great price? Not for value, test fails. Knew the seller? Not bona fides, test fails. Bought it from someone who has no history of selling those items? Possible notice, test fails. And so on.
Look, here's the thing. Lawyers and judges have been working on this system (the common law) for nearly a thousand years. For day-to-day stuff like property, the loopholes are well and truly closed and have been for hundreds of years.
That I was an inadequate law student and now am an inadequate explainer does not change the fact that the common law is pretty damn adequate at providing sensible legal protection for almost all imaginable transactions.
What if I never even noticed it was stolen?
In fact, as the thief, why even bother with stealing? Why not just sell, say, houses on ebay that don't belong to me?
If you had multiple sets of keys and some were stolen, then by repossessing the you are potentially a thief if the intermediate buyer was bona fide.
2. Whether or not you noticed is irrelevant, the crime was committed and the Crown or the People will take an interest.
3. Selling things that you neither possess nor own is fraud.
A thief steals a widget from you and sells it to me for $x. I have no reason to suspect it was stolen.
The thief then absconds with the $x and spends it on consumable goods; even if caught, the cash can't be recovered from him.
I currently have the widget and have lost nothing; you're currently the thief's only victim. But if the court takes the widget from me and gives it to you, you're fully compensated, while I am now the victim, because my $x has effectively been stolen with no compensation.
In other words, there are two people who have been victimized by the thief, but all the court can do is re-assign victimhood to one party or the other, which, all things being equal, it should be indifferent to. Allowing the purchaser to keep the widget is basically the same as saying that they'll have no part in deciding who is to be the victim, and allowing circumstance itself to determine that.
But the thief himself is always responsible, and it's entirely appropriate to extract from him as much compensation for both victims as is possible.
But in most of the US, that scheme doesn't apply.
You are assuming bitcoins are like a negotiable instrument.
They aren't, they are much closer to bearer bonds. Whoever holds the wallet owns the bitcoins. There is no other recorded title.
This has nothing to do with what a bitcoin wants to be, but what law in the US is with regards to stolen property.
If I own something, I have legal rights enforceable on it, regardless of whether anyone else thinks it's valuable. If I owned the bitcoins -- I suspect common law would have little difficult in identifying these as distinctly ownable -- then I have enforceable rights in them. I can ask the court to order those rights be respected.
Property rights in virtual property is a fast-growing area of law, however, so: IANAL, TINLA.
"Virtual currency used by drug traffickers stolen from users, courts play world's tiniest violin."
If a drug dealer steals a kilo from another drug dealer he's not going to take it to the courts. Thinking you will be entitled to some form of legal recourse should something similar happen to you when trading bitcoins is, IMO, foolish at this point.
As you can imagine, courts do not uphold contracts where there is an unlawful objective ("I paid him to beat my boss and he didn't!") and in most jurisdictions you cannot obtain property rights in certain things (in others you can, but asking for enforcement exposes you to criminal prosecution so in practice it doesn't happen).
Bitcoin is not a prohibited item and the exchange of bitcoins looks very much like contracts that don't have a unlawful objective.
Put another way: courts would probably enforce rights for trades made on Mt Gox, but not on Silk Road.
Property law does not require physical property in order to be applicable.