October 2, 2022

As the cryptocurrency world continues to debate whether or not the ban of Tornado Cash was good for the ecosystem in the United States, an anonymous crypto user began transferring small amounts of ether from one of the 44 sanctioned Tornado Cash addresses to celebrities and prominent crypto figures in a bid to protest against the sanction.

The actions by this crypto user, which many are calling a troll, ultimately implicate these well-known figures in the society in potential regulatory troubles, as their wallets have now interacted with one of the wallet addresses of Tornado Cash, which the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a watchdog agency tasked with preventing sanctions violations, have blacklisted.

Affected wallets include those controlled by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, TV host Jimmy Fallon, clothing brand Puma and a wallet created for donations to Ukraine, according to Etherscan. Prominent crypto figures such as artist Beeple and more mainstream celebrities such as comedian, Dave Chappelle received ether (ETH). The crypto user has been sending 0.1ETH to these addresses.

What you should know

  • Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury officials alleged that a significant number of funds flowing through the mixer were tied to criminal activities, such as North Korea’s proceeds from hacking various crypto exchanges and services.
  • The idea to send 0.1 ETH to celebrity wallets appears to have originated on Twitter in a Monday post by user, @Depression2019, who has since retweeted screengrabs from the on-chain transactions.
  • The gag effectively points out the absurdity of such sanctions for users receiving funds from blacklisted addresses that they have no power to decline. The open nature of crypto is designed to cut out intermediaries, unlike the traditional financial sector that would use banks and other financial institutions to act as gatekeepers against such transactions.
  • Because Tornado Cash is a sanctioned entity, U.S.-based crypto businesses are now under a legal obligation to block incoming transactions from its wallets. OFAC rules mandate that U.S. persons freeze any transactions or funds sent from Tornado Cash.

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to block an incoming transfer on-chain, so exchanges and other parties would most likely have to block the addresses, and this will also affect those who are innocent of not dealing on the platform as they can be stained by literally anyone. This may not be easy for celebrities and businesses with public wallets that aren’t operated by an exchange or similar type of business.

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