Not sure if this will be considered on-topic for the Tor board.

If not, feel free to yell at me.

But I think it belongs, as the spirit and the essence of this question is at the center of what Tor is all about.

I think I screwed myself by purchasing a VPN with my credit card.

This was right after I heard about the NSA thing. I was scared.

Come to find out, the general consensus for remaining anonymous online is to avoid VPN's, or wash your money trail if you do use them.

So now I'm curious, how do you wash your money trail before buying a VPN? (if you decide to use one)

I'm assuming Bitcoin?

I am partially happy with my VPN service thus far, and will probably buy another year of service after this one's up. (with a new account and a clean cash source, of course!)

  • 3
    How about paying with bitcoin you've mined yourself? If you never buy/sell bitcoin using real money there's nothing to tie you to the wallet.
    – user194
    Jul 2, 2014 at 0:42
  • Cash in the mail could be one option if you can trust the operators and the mail. (everything going through maybe scanned for record)
    – Roya
    Jul 2, 2014 at 3:49
  • 1
    I think this question is definitely off-topic for Tor stackexchange.
    – nargis
    Jul 30, 2014 at 8:09
  • 1
    @nargis this is a follow up to my original question, I'm including Tor in my browsing practices, however the original question generated discussion that went way off-topic from the answer I wanted. I'm therefore breaking it down into several more specific questions, this is one of them
    – IT Bear
    Jul 30, 2014 at 18:04
  • 1
    This is a follow-up question to tor.stackexchange.com/questions/3386/…
    – Roya
    Aug 3, 2014 at 5:41

1 Answer 1


For a VPN that you connect to directly, it doesn't matter very much. An adversary that has tracked you back through the VPN knows your IP address. If there's a credible investigation, your ISP will provide your identity. Paying anonymously for a direct-connect VPN would at best stop an adversary that couldn't gain the cooperation of your ISP.

I've written a guide on paying anonymously with cash and Bitcoins. One option, as Roya has mentioned, is paying with cash by mail. I address concerns about serial numbers, printer fingerprints, hindering DNA analysis, avoiding surveillance and so on, and offer suggestions based on my experience.

I cover using Bitcoins anonymously in great detail. I recommend multiple transfers through mixing services, using MultiBit clients in multiple Whonix instances. For better anonymity, each Multibit client should have a wallet with several sending and receiving addresses, or even several wallets. For each transfer from one client to another through a mixing service, you randomly spread the Bitcoins among several address combinations. That increases the anonymity that each transfer provides, by reducing correlation based on quantities transferred.

Reputable mixing services include BitLaundry, Blockchain (sending via “shared wallet”), and Bitcoin Fog. Avoid OnionBC. It has either broken, or become a scam. It accepts deposits, but won’t execute withdrawals.

After each mixing step, it’s crucial to check receiving addresses for taint from sending addresses. On the Blockchain explorer page, enter each receiving address in the “Search” field, and hit enter. Then click “Taint Analysis”, and download the results. Once you have all of the data, search the taint results for each receiving address for the corresponding sending address. If it appears, you need to remix that component.

  • 2
    That is certainly true. One option to hedge against this phenomena is to choose the VPN in a different jurisdiction than you reside and/or travel at. The Powers to be should have little or no influence in the jurisdiction your VPN company has a headquarter and no intention to open a branch in your jurisdiction.
    – Roya
    Jul 2, 2014 at 4:20
  • How would an adversary "track you back through the VPN"? They would have to match your (encrypted) traffic with the VPN's traffic, and if you connected to Tor from the VPN, how would they track you back to your VPN through Tor?
    – IT Bear
    Jul 25, 2014 at 17:26
  • @ITBear OP didn't ask about using Tor through a VPN. Without Tor, an adversary can easily trace website traffic back to the VPN, and then either get logs or get intercepts from the VPN's ISP. With that, traffic correlation will reveal the user's IP address. That points to the user's ISP. Game over.
    – mirimir
    Jul 25, 2014 at 18:40
  • @mirimir It still doesn't answer the question, How to wash VPN money trail. It's true VPN can be very weak without Tor, but we already have plenty of questions about that
    – IT Bear
    Jul 25, 2014 at 19:12

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