The US Justice Department has arrested a married couple from New York related to a Bitfinex hack from 2016, while also seizing over $3.6 billion in bitcoin that was stolen in the heist.
The DOJ on Tuesday announced that 34 year old Ilya Lichtenstein and his 31 year old wife Heather Morgan were arrested over conspiring to launder 119,754 bitcoin to a digital wallet owned by Lichtenstein. The funds were originally stolen during a hack of Bitfinex back in 2016. According to court documents, the couple are not being accused of conducting the hack itself, and it remains unclear whether or not they are suspects in the theft of the funds.
The arrest marks the largest amount of money seized in DOJ history, and the most prominent case since the agency made a commitment to investigate cryptocurrency crimes. “Thanks to the meticulous work of law enforcement, the department once again showed how it can and will follow the money, no matter the form it takes,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco in a written statement.
During the time of the hack, the stolen funds were valued at around $71 million, but with today’s appreciation, that bitcoin is now worth about $4.5 billion. However, only approximately 94,000 of the embezzled digital token has been seized. An IRS affidavit cited by The Washington Post showed that the married pair spent only a small portion of the stolen funds, mostly on NFTs and gold.
Bitfinex for its part offered a hefty reward to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in return for the stolen tokens at the time of the hack. Government officials declined to reveal whether or not the financial bounty offered by Bitfinex was partly responsible for the case against Lichtenstein and Morgan. Ultimately, though, given that the funds were seized in relation to a court order, it rests on the judge to determine what happens to the recovered bitcoin.
Social media has had a heyday with the report however, as a result of the cringeworthy nature of the entire event. For starters, the couple allegedly stored the data relating to over 2,000 crypto wallet addresses and their seed phrases on a cloud based server – not exactly the most secure way to hide the data related to accessing billions in cryptocurrency.
And then, there’s the online personality of Heather Morgan, which is something.. special. On LinkedIn, she bills herself as a serial entrepreneur, a SaaS investors, and a “surrealist artist/rapper.” And quite frankly, her presence on TikTok doesn’t disappoint on the latter count.
And then, there’s her explainer on how to make millions..
And what would a humorous situation be, without memes, hot takes and fake recordings already hitting social media.
Information for this briefing was found via the DOJ and the Washington Post. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.