US Department of Justice, today arrested Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, 31, both of New York, and charged them with laundering cryptocurrency stolen from Bitfinex in 2016. Thus far, law enforcement has seized over $3.6 billion in cryptocurrency linked to that hack.
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Lichtenstein and Morgan 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.
“Today’s arrests, and the department’s largest financial seizure ever, show that cryptocurrency is not a safe haven for criminals,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “In a futile effort to maintain digital anonymity, the defendants laundered stolen funds through a labyrinth of cryptocurrency transactions. Thanks to the meticulous work of law enforcement, the department once again showed how it can and will follow the money, no matter what form it takes.”
“Today, federal law enforcement demonstrates once again that we can follow money through the blockchain, and that we will not allow cryptocurrency to be a safe haven for money laundering or a zone of lawlessness within our financial system,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The arrests today show that we will take a firm stand against those who allegedly try to use virtual currencies for criminal purposes.”
The total value of Bitcoin stolen was $4.6 billion, DOJ says, and they have recovered $3.6 billion of it. BUT the DOJ is not accusing the married couple of the hack itself, leaving open the possibility that someone else was involved.
the couple used proceeds for their personal benefit, including purchases of gold and NFTs. Asked if that included the “bored ape” NFT, officials wouldn’t specify which NFTs were purchased with allegedly stolen money.
Those who are victims may have the chance to lay claim to their cryptocurrencies as court proceedings set to start.