Coins Sent to the Wrong Address – How to Get Them Back

Ethereum Coins with hands and feet got lost in a maze

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Sending Bitcoin to the wrong address is difficult because typos usually result in an invalid address. However, if you have entered a valid address but it belongs to the wrong recipient you are in trouble.

The reason for this is relatively simple. All transactions are irreversible. There is no button with which you can halt a transaction or even arrange for the coins to be sent back.

This does not yet fully describe the problem because there are a number of reasons why other cryptocurrencies can end up at the wrong address. We want to go through the most common cases and show you what you can specifically do to get your coins or tokens back.

You’ve Got the Right Address but the Wrong Blockchain

A common problem is the fact that different cryptos use the same address formats. A very good example of this is the Binance Smart Chain and Ethereum. As a result, it is possible to initiate a transaction with an address that belongs to the other blockchain.

In such a case the crypto assets are not transferred to another blockchain. As an example, if you send 1 ETH to a BSC address it will not switch blockchains. Instead, the transaction remains on the blockchain you sent it from.

The good news is that the coins that are lost along the way are not gone for good. Fortunately, the rightful owner of the destination address is also the owner of the wrong destination address and can create a wallet on the Binance Smart Chain or Ethereum with the same private keys. So, if this mistake happens to you, you should try to notify the recipient. Of course, this assumes that the recipient is known and can be contacted. If all else fails, you can also do this by sending them a message to their Ethereum address.

If you need help with any of these steps, our wallet recovery services are here to assist you and attempt to turn your failed transaction into a happy ending. You can use our contact form to describe your case and send us a message. - ReWallet

Exchange Accounts Are Often Affected

Exchange accounts are prone to be affected by those problems, which is related to how they manage the accounts. Typically, a deposit address is only intended for a specific blockchain and a transaction from another blockchain is not credited to the balance on the exchange account. In such cases, the transferred coins can only be saved - even with our help - if there is a seed for the exchange account.

It is also important to note that some exchanges assign their users a separate address for each token, which can more easily lead to incorrect transactions. Other exchanges assign only one address to their users and thus it does not matter which tokens one wants to send or receive as long as the tokens are supported by the exchange.

How to proceed if you have sent a wrong transaction to an exchange address depends on the applicable terms and conditions. Sometimes, customer support is willing to perform a recovery and credit the coins to the customer account. For this service, however, exchanges typically charge processing fees which are deducted directly from your account balance. At the end of the day, you might get help from the exchange but it comes at a price.

If, on the other hand, you send cryptocurrencies from your exchange account to the wrong address, then you are usually out of luck. This is because the exchange can of course no longer intervene in a transaction that has already been finalized and is irreversible by its nature. Therefore, it is always advisable to check the receiving address very thoroughly because this is the last opportunity to stop an erroneous transaction.

Can You Sue an Unwilling Recipient?

This is a complicated legal question. In principle you may assume that a recipient may not simply keep the cryptos if they never intended to get them in the first place. However, to recover them through legal action you would have to overcome some hurdles.

For example you must be able to prove who the recipient is and that they control the address. Also you must prove that the transaction was indeed unintentional. Additionally, such an endeavor might be complicated by the fact that the recipient is located in a different country.

The chances of success, therefore, depend on the individual case. Overall, however, it can be assumed that prosecution will be at least difficult, if not impossible.

If you happen to be the recipient of an accidental transaction, you should do the unfortunate sender a favor and send the coins or tokens directly back.

FAQ About Coins Sent to the Wrong Address

What happens if the recipient’s address does not belong to anyone?
It is quite possible that the address belongs to a private key that has not yet been created. In this case, the creator of the wallet is happy. However, it is extremely unlikely that someone will become the lucky finder. The coins are therefore lost.
Do numerical errors and typos automatically lead to valid addresses?
No, this is not automatically the case. Even if a digit is forgotten or added, the address can be invalid. The best way to avoid such errors is to either scan addresses via QR code or enter them through copy & paste. This does not totall eliminate the possibility of errors but it is much safer than typing in the addresses.
Can I stop a transaction in progress?
This is rarely possible but in certain situations you can use a trick. For example, Bitcoin wallets have a replace-by-fee option, which allows you to replace the fees after sending a transaction. As long as the transaction has not been confirmed by the network, you can try to save the BTC by sending a second transaction to a different address and drastically increasing the fees and lowering them on the erroneous transaction. Thus, the second transaction overtakes the erroneous one. However, this requires coordinated action under time pressure.
What if I send Bitcoin Cash to a Bitcoin address?
A similar error as in the case of BSC and Ethereum described above. The coins can be recovered if the recipient has the private keys to the destination address on the other blockchain. The same applies if Bitcoin has been sent to a Bitcoin Cash address.

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