If you were on Twitter this past Monday, you probably noticed that your timeline was bombarded by the news of the DOJ national security press conference. Unfortunately for the attention spans of America’s youth, the rumored TikTok ban did not come to fruition.
However, not all was lost, as the press conference did gift us one of the wildest stories of the year.
Strap in for a tale of deception, betrayal, and Bitcoin.
The story begins like all good stories do: with an espionage plot.
In this case, the central characters are Chinese intelligence officers Gouchun He and Zheng Wang. These two gentlemen were tasked with obtaining classified information about an ongoing investigation into, as reported by WSJ, Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co.
Now, instead of stealing the files James Bond or Jason Bourne style, He and Wang decided on a more modern method: using Bitcoin as a bribe. $61,000 in Bitcoin bribes, to be exact.
From He’s and Wang’s perspectives, using Bitcoin made sense. The privacy of crypto makes it a much better bribery tool than Venmo, especially when using a crypto mixer like CoinJoin, which enhances the stealth levels of the transaction even more. At the time, it looked like a safe bet.
Obviously, the fact we’re now talking about it means it wasn’t.
So, what went wrong?
Well, unluckily for He and Wang, they bribed a double agent working for the US government. All the privacy tools in the world won’t help you get out of that one.
Another Crypto Mixer Controversy
Although the story is entertaining, it is not the best look for crypto.
In our previous coverage of the Tornado Cash sanctions, we’ve discussed the gray area that is crypto mixers. These tools, while definitely having legitimate purposes, also attract nefarious actors. We saw it with Tornado Cash, and we’re seeing it again with CoinJoin.
The path forward is unclear. Nobody wants to see crypto get censored. At the same time, unless you’re Xi Jinping, nobody wants to see crypto enabling Chinese espionage.
Hopefully, crypto mixers will be able to find a happy medium in the near future.