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Police Finally Catch Criminals Six Years After $3.6 Billion Crypto-Heist

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Police Finally Catch Criminals Six Years After $3.6 Billion Crypto-Heist

A couple have been arrested by US authorities on the conspiracy of laundering $4.5 billion dollars in cryptocurrency, which was stolen during a hack of crypto exchange site Bitfinex in 2016.

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As reported by PC Gamer, Ilya Lichtenstein and his wife Heather Morgan planned to launder the proceeds of almost 120,000 stolen bitcoin. Despite successfully transferring out and laundering about 25,000 bitcoin since the hack, federal agents were able to decrypt a file in Lichtenstein’s cloud storage which listed more than 2000 virtual currency addresses, unravelling the scheme.

Analysis confirmed that almost all of the addresses on the file were linked to the 2016 hack, and more than 94,000 bitcoin were seized. At the time, they were valued at around $3.6 billion, in turn making this the largest Department of Justice financial recovery in history.

“Today, federal law enforcement demonstrates once again that we can follow money through the blockchain, and that we will not allow cryptocurrency to be a safe haven for money laundering or a zone of lawlessness within our financial system,” said assistant attorney general Kenneth A. Polite Jr. “The arrests today show that we will take a firm stand against those who allegedly try to use virtual currencies for criminal purposes.”

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Bizarrely, these weren’t just quiet, unassuming criminals. Morgan is a rapper who goes by the name Razzlekhan, describing herself on her website: “like Genghis Khan, but with more pizzazz”. She claims to be the “infamous Crocodile of Wall Street”, and says that “she is also a software CEO, a writer, an economist, and a few contradictory other things”. Morgan also wrote several articles on Forbes, including one ironically titled, “Experts Share Tips To Protect Your Business From Cybercriminals”. 

The couple could potentially face up to 20 years in prison for the conspiracy to commit money laundering, on top of the charges to defraud the government (which could add on a further five years). In a statement, Bitfinex said: “We want to express our appreciation for the dedication and hard work by the DOJ team that led to this great success. We will continue to support their efforts.”

Featured Image Credit: Art Rachen via Unsplash, Bermix Studio via Unsplash

Topics: Cryptocurrency, Real Life

Catherine Lewis
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