Married couple arrested in bitcoin hack, $3.6 billion seized in digital currency

Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, 31 of New York, New York were arrested for an alleged conspiracy to launder cryptocurrency allegedly stolen in the 2016 hack of Bitfinex, a virtual currency exchange. So far, law enforcement has seized over $3.6 billion of cryptocurrency linked to that hack, making this the largest cryptocurrency seizure to date.
The couple made their first appearance in court on February 8 at 3:00 pm Eastern Time in Manhattan. At the hearing, a magistrate judge ruled Lichstenstein could be released into home detention on a $5 million bond co-signed by his parents. The bond amount set for Lichtenstein’s wife was $3 million. They are to remain in custody until bail conditions are met.
Prosecutors had argued that the defendants were “flight risks.” That could still potentially have access to large sums of money, and a search of the couple’s home had uncovered a file folder labeled “passport ideas” containing information on how to obtain fake IDs, and a stash of burner phones. (Yahoo) The couple was not charged with the Bitfinex hack itself, which involved a hacker initiating more than 2,000 unauthorized transactions that sent funds into a wallet controlled by Lichstenstein. About $71 million in bitcoin, which is valued today at more than $4.5 billion. Additional suspicious activity was their use of Alphabay, a dark web criminal marketplace dismantled in 2017 by the U.S. justice department, and the alleged money laundering schemes using the U.S. businesses in their name.
Morgan and Lichstenstein are being charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States Both charges combined to bring a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after consideration of U.S. sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. (


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