New York City:- A New York couple has been detained and accused of conspiring to launder $4.5 billion in stolen bitcoin funds. Law enforcement officers have confiscated $3.6 billion of those funds in what US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco described as “the greatest financial seizure in the department’s history.”
Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, 31, are accused of attempting to launder money obtained during a massive hack of cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex in 2016.
After a rash of heists from cryptocurrency sites, the arrests and money seizure are seen as a victory by US law enforcement. Hackers have made off with hundreds of millions of dollars at a time in attacks on virtual currency exchanges in recent years.
According to Justice Department officials, Lichtenstein and Morgan have been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and conspiracy to defraud the United States, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. An attorney for the couple could not be reached for comment right away.
The department did not announce charges in connection with the actual hack of Bitfinex, and Justice Department officials declined to comment further, citing an ongoing investigation.
As the economic toll of ransomware and other hacks has increased, law enforcement agencies have stepped up their efforts to track down and recover Bitcoin, which is frequently utilized by criminal hackers. The United States government recovered $2.3 million of the $4.4 million in ransom money that Colonial Pipeline paid to a Russian-speaking gang last year.
- Two People Have Been Arrested in Connection With an Alleged Conspiracy to Launder $4.5 Billion in Stolen Cryptocurrency.
- Cryptocurrency Hack Results in the Seizure of $3.6 Billion in Bitcoin by the Justice Department
- The Justice Department Has Seized $3.6 Billion in Bitcoin That Was Stolen in a Cryptocurrency Hack