United States government seizes $3.6 Billion in stolen cryptocurrency

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United States government seizes $3.6 Billion in stolen cryptocurrency

Two Arrested for Alleged Conspiracy to Launder $4.5 Billion in Stolen Cryptocurrency

The official press release states that two individuals were arrested on February 8th for an alleged conspiracy to launder cryptocurrency that was stolen during the 2016 hack of the exchange Bitfinex, valued at today’s prices at approximately $4.5 billion.

The couple Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, 31, both living in New York allegedly conspired to launder the proceeds of 119,754 bitcoin that were stolen from Bitfinex’s platform after a hacker breached Bitfinex’s systems and initiated more than 2,000 unauthorized transactions. 

Those unauthorized transactions sent the stolen Bitcoin to a digital wallet under Lichtenstein’s control. Over the last five years, approximately 25,000 of those stolen Bitcoins were transferred out of Lichtenstein’s wallet via a complicated money laundering process and ended with being deposited into financial accounts controlled by Lichtenstein and Morgan. 

After the execution of court-authorized search warrants of online accounts controlled by Lichtenstein and Morgan, special agents obtained access to files on a cloud service. Those files contained the private keys required to access the digital wallet that directly received the funds stolen from Bitfinex, and allowed special agents to lawfully seize and recover more than 94,000 bitcoin, currently worth 3,6 billion dollars. 

Lichtenstein and Morgan are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and conspiracy to defraud the United States, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. 


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