Couples Who Steal Together...serve time together
Enough is enough...the Fed arrested a husband and wife team and recover $3.6 billion in bitcoin stolen in 2016 from the Bitfinex crypto exchange. The money was found in accounts controlled by Lichtenstein, who went by the name ‘Dutch,’ who is also a dual U.S. and Russian citizen. Heather Morgan described herself as a serial entrepreneur originally from California and an ‘irreverent comedic rapper.’
The couple had hidden the stolen money in nearly 120,000 bitcoins using an intricate web of transactions. When the 2016 hack occurred, the money was moved out from Bitfinex in two thousand separate transactions to wallets on other platforms. This spiderweb was necessary to hide its origins, to several crypto wallets controlled by Dutch and his wife Heather Morgan. They employed numerous sophisticated laundering techniques, including using fictitious identities to set up online accounts; utilizing computer programs to automate transactions, a laundering technique that allows for many transactions to take place in a short period of time; depositing the stolen funds into accounts at a variety of virtual currency exchanges. They relied on accounts at a dark web criminal marketplace called AlphaBay, which was dismantled by the Justice Department in 2017, as a “pass-through” for the stolen bitcoin, according to documents.
Easy Out...maybe not
Prosecutors say the couple had been slowly laundering the money, having moved about 25,000 of the coins into regular cash currencies, gold and to purchase Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Some of the money was used to purchase Walmart gift cards, which were, in turn, used to buy ordinary items.
Not all of the bitcoin stolen in the 2016 hack has been recovered, and the investigation is ongoing, prosecutors said. When the hack occurred, the bitcoin was worth approximately $71 million. Today, it would be worth $4.5 billion. Now that is a lot of cheddar.
Prosecutors said they would ultimately return the seized money back to those it was stolen from in 2016.
Dutch and Heather face federal charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Market Watch, Feds Arrest Husband-And-Wife Team And Recover $3.6 Billion In Bitcoin Stolen In 2016 From Bitfinex. The largest government seizure in history | Financial Crime
Daily Beast, Justin Rohrlich -Reporter | Wild Hipster Couple Accused in $4.5 Billion Crypto Crime | Crime and Justice