Mistake or money laundering? User pays $1.6 million for CrypToadz NFT

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One of the CrypToadz non-fungible tokens (NFTs), whose average price doesn’t exceed $1000, was bought for an astonishing 1,055 Wrapped Ethereum (WETH), an equivalent to $1.6 million. 

The deal occurred on the OpenSea market on Oct. 9. The NFT represents “a small, warty, amphibious creature,” one of the 6969 units minted by the pseudonymous digital artist Gremplin. The CrypToadz collection was launched during the NFTs boom in 2021 and surpassed a trading volume of 12,000 ETH ($38 million) during its first ten days on the market.

However, the price paid by the anonymous user for the NFT raised questions among the community. Two weeks ago, this item was acquired for 0.95 ETH (around $1600), only to be sold for a price a thousand times higher.

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Moreover, the purchase was funded from a digital wallet, which has been a part of the chain of transactions, anonymized by the Ethereum coin mixing service Tornado Cash. The new owner of the CrypToadz NFT received 1,115.9 ETH ($1.6 million) on Oct. 5

Although some Twitter users preferred to qualify the weird purchase as a “fat finger mistake” during the transaction, it could be an example of wash trading, a tactic to withdraw funds of suspicious origin through a long chain of deals and exchanges.

Tornado Cash is famous for its popularity among scammers seeking to wash their funds. In August 2023, the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) even announced sanctions against the crypto mixer for its alleged role in laundering crime proceeds. However, these sanctions couldn’t completely cut off the mixer’s usage.

For example, in July 2023, almost $60 million in Ether, stolen from the AnubisDAO two years earlier, was moved via Tornado Cash. The person possessing the 13,556 ETH divided and transferred the funds in 100 ETH transactions.

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