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On etherscan, what can be said about an Ethereum address that starts with a non-zero opening balance? we would expect there to always be a blockchain trail for all transactions.

For example, at this address, the first incoming transfer of funds in ETH comes from an UNLINKED address (we normally can click all addresses on etherscan by their link and view its ledger). how is this possible? please list the different ways. Is the source of funds being concealed somehow?

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the first incoming transfer of funds in ETH comes from an UNLINKED address

That's an outgoing transaction. (You can't click on the from address because you're already on the page relating to that account.)

what can be said about an Ethereum address that starts with a non-zero opening balance?

Before that outgoing transaction, the wallet had been funded 3 minutes earlier with this incoming internal transaction (see the "Internal Txs" tab), via this contract, and initiated by this EOA (wallet account).

Background: Normal transactions VS. Internal transactions in etherscan

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Nothing special! This happens to be if the transaction sender is the address itself like in this example:

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