Snapshot: US Feds Arrest Couple Who Stole $4.5 Billion in Crypto
In 2016, Bitfinex, a crypto exchange platform valued at over $4.5 billion, was hacked. Law enforcement could recover over $3.6 billion in stolen cryptocurrency directly connected to that platform breach; the remaining $900 million was gone forever. As of February 2022, a couple was arrested in the wee morning hours in the heart of Manhattan for alleged conspiracy to launder the cryptocurrency they had stolen.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco stated, "today’s arrests, and the department’s largest financial seizure ever, show that cryptocurrency is not a haven for criminals.” Monaco emphasized that officers were able to follow a maze of crypto transactions that led them to the stolen funds, showing that crypto isn’t as anonymous as some would think.
“Today, federal law enforcement demonstrates once again that we can follow the money through the blockchain and that we will not allow cryptocurrency to be a 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 alleged thieves, Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, 31, will likely face 25 years each for their multiple alleged crimes. These two will be behind bars between the 25,000 units of stolen Bitcoin and a whopping 2,000 transactions, showing that governments are beginning to recognize the seriousness of such crimes.
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