Last Tuesday a couple was arrested in Manhattan for allegedly attempting to launder some 4.5 billion dollars in cryptocurrencies. Everything seems to indicate that the cryptocurrencies were stolen during the massive 2016 hack of the Bitfinex platform, as federal prosecutors have been able to identify.
Ilya “Dutch” Lichtenstein, 34, and Heather Morgan, 31, have been accused of laundering all that amount of money from 119,754 bitcoins. The cryptocurrencies were allegedly transferred to Lichtenstein’s digital wallet.
Among the charges of fraud and money laundering, they face 25 years in prison
The criminal complaint alleged that during the money laundering process the couple bought things like gold, NFTs, and even $500 worth of Walmart gift cards. Federal prosecutors claimed that this process involved complex money laundering techniques, including the creation of multiple false online accounts and the use of the darknet to move the money.
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Among the possessions that count as evidence was a backpack full of mobile phones labeled ‘burner phones’, as well as a file named ‘passport_ideas’ on Lichtenstein’s computer. The operation has led special agents to recover bitcoins worth more than 3,600 million dollars, being the largest financial seizure in the history of the Department of Justice. Bitfinex was working with this department to pay them back.
The charges for money laundering and fraud that Lichtenstein and Morgan have to face have made the sentence reach a maximum of 25 years in prison. However, bail set at $5 million for Lichtenstein and $3 million for Morgan has allowed them to be placed under house arrest and electronic surveillance while awaiting trial.
A most peculiar couple
‘Technology entrepreneur, programmer and investor’, according to Lichtenstein’s LinkedIn page, he married Morgan last year, who raps under the stage name ‘Razzlekhan’. In fact, in the lyrics of his songs you can see some clear references to his acts, as in his rescued song ‘Cuttthroat Country’, where you can hear “Spearfish your password / all your funds transferred” (something like “fish your password / all your funds are transferred”).