The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced the arrest of a couple on charges of money laundering and fraud, seizing a record $3.6 billion in bitcoin.
Dutch Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife Heather Morgan, 31, were arrested in Manhattan on the morning of February 8. The pair are accused of conspiring to launder 119,754 bitcoins stolen from the 2016 Bitfinex hack. At the time of the theft, $71 million worth of bitcoins were stolen, but they are now up to $4.5 billion. .
|US arrests couple for laundering $4.5 billion worth of bitcoins|
A hacker broke into Bitfinex and made over 2,000 unauthorized transactions then transferred the funds to Lichtenstein’s digital wallet. More than a third of stolen bitcoins were “laundered” with sophisticated methods such as creating accounts with fake names or converting bitcoins to other digital currencies like Monero. The remainder of 94,000 bitcoins remains in the wallet. Bitfinex announced that it will work together with US officials to try to return the stolen funds to the rightful owners.
According to FBI Deputy Director Paul M. Abbate, criminals always leave digital footprints, and the FBI has the tools to track that down wherever they lead. Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A said that as law enforcement agencies can track money through blockchain, virtual currency will not become a safe haven for money laundering actions.
Morgan works in art, fashion design and is a writer for Forbes and Inc, and is also a rapper on TikTok. One of her recent articles shares how to protect a business from cybercriminals and features an interview with a crypto exchange owner on how to prevent fraud. Lichtenstein, describes himself on Linkedin as an “angel investor”. He is a member of Y-combinator – which has helped a series of successful technology companies start up. If convicted, the couple will receive 25 years in prison, 20 years in prison for money laundering and 5 years in prison for fraud.
Cryptocurrency platforms have faced a number of hacks and scams in recent months. According to data from Chainalysis, the amount of stolen virtual currency has reached a record $ 14 billion by 2021. Most recently, Wormhole also lost about $ 320 million in a hack earlier this month.
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