The largest Ethereum miner starts blocking Tornado transactions

The Ethermine mining pool is responsible for over a quarter of all Ethereum mining, making them the largest miner for that blockchain. On August 11, three days after OFAC added the project to its sanctions list, Ethermine stopped including Tornado Cash transactions in their blocks.

This came as a shock to some crypto enthusiasts, who were taken aback that such a large number of blocks in a "decentralized" and "censorship-resistant" project would reject Tornado Cash transactions. Others worried that more miners would do the same, which could eventually prevent Tornado Cash transactions from being validated at all.

Game studio pauses development on their game after sinking Kickstarter funds into crypto

A 3D rendered woman stands next to a green dragon-like creator, with her hand shading her eyes looking up into the distance. Behind her is grass and then a tropical beach. The title says "Untamed Isles" and there is a graphic in the bottom right that says "over 420% funded"Untamed Isles artwork (attribution)
Over 3,000 backers put a combined ~NZ$841,000 (~US$535,000) into Untamed Isles, a Pokémon-like MMORPG. Although the developers did eventually plan to add optional crypto elements for players who wanted them, it was not primarily a crypto game.

On August 11, about a year after the Kickstarter launched, the creators posted an update: they would be pausing development and putting the project on hold because they had run out of money. "We leaned into the crypto market and expanded rapidly off the back of the positive interest. When the crash came, we ended up heavily exposed with too short of a runway."

Project backers were not impressed by this announcement, with many asking for refunds—which the developers had promised if the game never launched. However, the game developers wrote that "Due to our cash reserves being empty, we are not in a position to refund our initial backers."

"Really disappointed by this- I put money into funding this game to back a game, not to throw money into the crypto market," wrote one backer. "Gutted and to be honest pretty appalled," wrote another.

Mailchimp bans a slew of crypto companies according to their no-crypto policy

The email marketing company Mailchimp reportedly suspended accounts belonging to several prominent companies and individuals in the crypto sphere, including crypto analytics tool Messari, blog Decrypt, wallet provider Edge, NFT artist Jesse Friedland, and the founder of the Cryptoon Goonz NFT collection.

Daniel Roberts, CEO of Decrypt, wrote on Twitter that they had used Mailchimp for more than four years, but that the company had "deactivated our newsletter account with no warning or explanation".

Mailchimp's acceptable use policy bans businesses offering "Cryptocurrencies, virtual currencies, and any digital assets related to an Initial Coin Offering". It's listed among other industries that they identify as having "higher-than-average abuse complaints, which can jeopardize deliverability" including work-at-home scams, make money online, and lead generation opportunities; gambling services or products; and multi-level or affiliate marketing. In an email reportedly sent to Friedland regarding his suspension, Mailchimp wrote, "We cannot allow businesses involved in the sale, transaction, trading, exchange, storage, marketing, or production of cryptocurrencies, virtual currencies and any digital assets."

In April, Mailchimp had experienced a security breach in which audience data was taken from around 100 accounts in finance and crypto-related industries.

OpenSea changes its policy, requires a police report to freeze NFTs

The dominant NFT platform, OpenSea, has changed its policy around NFTs that are reported as stolen. OpenSea now requires those who have reported an NFT as stolen to produce a police report within seven days, or else they will re-enable trading of the asset.

Some have praised the change as a good step towards preventing false reports, whereas others have complained that the change does not apply retroactively to assets that have already been frozen from trading on the platform. Others have raised concerns about the new requirement that they engage with police.

Coinbase stopped sending price notifications during crypto crash

Mother Jones has reported that the Coinbase crypto exchange stopped sending the email notifications that it had previously sent some users when the price of a cryptocurrency changed noticeably. Coinbase had been trialling these price change alerts in January, and some users had grown to rely on them to notify them when cryptocurrency prices changed noticeably. However, the company quietly stopped sending these emails sometime in February, before they were re-enabled for all users.

While the choice could be chalked up to the end of an A/B test, some legal experts have expressed concern about the sudden and unannounced change in behavior: "It’s potentially illegal... This seems straight up deceptive. They said we’ll email you price alerts and then stopped doing it without saying they were [going to stop]." He also noted that even if a customer didn't sue for damages, depending on the number of users who saw the alerts, "if they caused harm to people who didn’t sell crypto that they would have sold, that is potentially actionable by regulators." Another expert observed that a traditional brokerage firm would likely be penalized by FINRA if they did something similar.

Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky reportedly sells off some of his $CEL holdings during price increase and attempted short squeeze

Alex Mashinsky sitting onstage, wearing a Madonna microphone and a t-shirt reading "Banks are not your friends." with the Celsius logoAlex Mashinsky (attribution)
A wallet identified as belonging to Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky sold off 17,475 CEL (the native token of the Celsius lending platform) for around $28,000. Celsius is undergoing bankruptcy proceedings, and users remain without access to their cryptocurrency that's locked in the platform.

CEL enjoyed an all-time-high of around $8 in June 2021, but has been trading for less than half that for this year. The token hit $0.15 on the day Celsius announced they would be pausing withdrawals, but has, oddly, recently spiked above $2. Some have attributed this to the ill-advised attempts at a short squeeze by a group of people who believe that exchanges are somehow running out of CEL tokens to provide to short-sellers, and that a properly-coordinated short squeeze could somehow realistically send the token to $100. Protos did a useful explainer on why this is unlikely to work, but those pushing the idea have a fervency not unlike what was seen with those pushing the GameStop short squeeze, and enjoy dismissing those who question the strategy as "CEL shorters" who are trying to ruin any chance of a Celsius recovery.

All the same, Mashinsky can possibly thank the short squeeze folks for helping him pump his bags, and sell off a pile of tokens for over 10x more than what he previously could have.

Analytics firm Elliptic says RenBridge has been used to launder more than $540 million in proceeds from crimes over the last two years

Two days after OFAC sanctioned crypto tumbler Tornado Cash, the blockchain analytics firm Elliptic pointed to cryptocurrency bridges as a likely future target for sanctions if the Treasury Department continues its attempts to crack down on crypto money laundering. In addition to their purpose of allowing different currencies to be used cross-chain, cryptocurrency bridges are a useful tool for obscuring the path of cryptocurrencies, as it can be difficult for outside observers to link cryptocurrencies flowing into a bridge with the destination wallet(s) on the other end.

Elliptic singled out the RenBridge chain in particular, saying that at least $540 million in funds linked to crimes have been moved through the bridge in the last two years. $153 million of this, they say, originated from ransomware plots, and $53 million is allegedly linked to the Russia-based group behind the Conti ransomware.

Blur Finance rug pulls for over $600,000

The yield aggregator Blur Finance rug pulled, taking more than $600,000 in assets from the BNB Chain and Polygon-based projects before deleting their website and social media accounts. The project had only been active for about a month, and had accumulated about 750 users on its original BNB Chain implementation, and on August 5 had announced their launch on Polygon. In the announcement, they boasted returns of over 4,000% APR.

Hotbit crypto exchange suspends trading due to criminal investigation

Tweet from Hotbit News: 📢Announcement on the Suspension of Hotbit Website Service on August 10th, 2022 Details👉https://hotbit.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/8074249353495 ⚠️User's assets are safe, please don't worry. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused!😢
Followed by a GIF of Anya Forger from Spy x Family cryingHotbit announcement tweet (attribution)
The Hotbit cryptocurrency exchange abruptly announced they would be suspending services because they were under criminal investigation, and law enforcement had frozen some of their assets. Hotbit claims that the investigation pertains to a former employee who was involved in a "project" unbeknownst to Hotbit, which investigators believe was illegal. Hotbit urged that all customer funds were safe, which seems a bit of a bold statement when their funds are currently frozen to the point where the exchange can no longer operate.

Hotbit announced the suspension on Twitter with a GIF of a crying Anya from the anime series Spy × Family which, despite demonstrating their good taste in shows, does not seem like it would exactly inspire confidence among customers.

CoinFLEX files for restructuring

The cryptocurrency exchange CoinFLEX announced they had filed for restructuring, a move that probably didn't surprise too many people after they stopped customer withdrawals in June, sued Roger Ver over $84 million they claimed he owed them in July, and then significantly cut staff in order to try to massively reduce their costs.

As tends to happen with insolvent exchanges, they are hoping to "compensate" their depositors with a mix of CoinFLEX-issued tokens and equity, rather than actual money or more liquid, established cryptocurrencies.

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