Get smarter in just 5 minutes
Get the daily email that makes reading the news truly enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.
It’s only February and we already have 2022’s “most likely story to be made into competing original movies on Apple TV and Hulu”. On Tuesday, authorities arrested a husband and wife (that’s her above) accused of attempting to launder 119,754 stolen bitcoins, worth $4.5 billion.
Along with the arrest of the couple, Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan, the Department of Justice announced that it had seized more than 94,000 allegedly stolen bitcoins, worth $3.6 billion, the largest seizure financial history of the agency.
The bitcoin in question is linked to a 2016 hack of crypto exchange Bitfinex, in which hackers exploited a security flaw and performed over 2,000 unauthorized transactions, allegedly routing the stolen crypto to a wallet controlled by Lichtenstein. . At the time of the hack, the stolen crypto was valued at $71 million, which shows how much the cryptocurrency has exploded.
According to the DOJ, over the next five years, Lichtenstein and Morgan conspired to launder this stolen bitcoin through a complex process that involved depositing the funds at various currency exchanges and darknet markets using fictitious identities and then d ‘withdraw part of it in cash from bitcoin ATMs, and spend part on NFT, gold and Walmart gift cards. The DOJ says the couple deposited some of the funds into their own accounts.
But it’s not just about money laundering. It’s a story about millennium money laundering.
crime is just a hobby
Lichtenstein, 34, and Morgan, 31, are not your typical married couple accused of laundering stolen crypto. Both are incredibly, almost incredibly, online. A Twitter account named after Lichtenstein frequently posts about Web3 and crypto.
And like so many born in the late ’80s, Morgan has a YouTube channel featuring some of the worst raps of all time – under the moniker “Razzlekhan” – where she describes herself as the “crocodile of Wall Street”. She is also a former Forbes contributor: she wrote a June 2020 article on how businesses can protect themselves from cybercriminals.
The couple face up to 20 years in prison for the money laundering charges.—MK