In an effort to stop criminals, the US Treasury Department has cracked its whip on Tornado Cash, a token mixing platform. Tornado Cash is stated to be responsible for $7 billion in illicit fund flows since its establishment in 2019. But the government crackdown put ordinary crypto investors with honest intentions at risk.
Ari Redbord, head of legal and government affairs at TRM Labs, said every US person has to be very careful about transacting with Tornado Cash. He highlighted that sanctions are strict liability and intent does not matter. Tom Robinson, the chief scientist at Elliptic, believes there is a need for solutions that can help users cover their tracks, even when they are not doing anything illicit.
Some people use Tornado Cash as a legitimate way to protect their privacy, but this is still a nascent market. Tornado Cash masks or conceals the details of transactions by anonymizing the funds. It hides the identity of the buyer. Normally, when a buyer pays for goods or services using a crypto wallet, the recipient of the transfer has access to the buyer’s crypto wallet – showing account details and history.
According to Elliptic, at least $1.5 billion in proceeds from crimes such as ransomware, hacks, and fraud have been through Tornado Cash, while the $7 billion figure from the government is the total value of digital assets that have been sent through Tornado Cash. Crypto firms are also noticing and taking action. Some examples are Circle, the parent company of USDC stablecoin, which froze about $75,000 in USDC that was connected to Tornado Cash. And Coinbase is also looking at blocking customers from sending funds to Tornado Cash to be in line with the Treasury’s new rules.