Wannabe Influencer And Rapper Arrested Over £3.3 Billion Bitcoin Hack In ‘Largest Financial Seizure Ever’
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The money has been traced back to 2016, when Bitfinex, a virtual currency exchange, was hacked.
According to Justice Department officials, the hacker made more than 2,000 unauthorised transactions and funnelled them through a digital wallet run by Ilya Lichtenstein.
In a breakthrough revelation for the case, Sky News reported on Tuesday morning (9 February) that Lichtenstein and his wife, Heather Morgan, were arrested for allegedly laundering around 25,000 of the stolen Bitcoin over the past five years.
Deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco said: “Today’s arrests, and the department’s largest financial seizure ever, show that cryptocurrency is not a safe haven for criminals.
“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 the form it takes.”
In order to cover up their tracks, Lichtenstein and Morgan reportedly used fake identities, as well as converting their Bitcoin into other digital currencies to spend it on items ranging from gold and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to a $500 Walmart gift card, according to prosecutors.
Rather than keeping a low profile, as you would expect, the couple were incredibly active on social media, with Morgan pursuing her rap career under the name ‘Razzlekhan’, which her website says refers to Genghis Khan ‘but with more pizzazz’.
Social media posts also showcased their lavish New York lifestyle, with Morgan evidently trying her hand at influencing as well as rapping.
To top it all off, Morgan also offered sales and marketing advice in Forbes.
“When she’s not reverse-engineering black markets to think of better ways to combat fraud and cybercrime, she enjoys rapping and designing streetwear fashion,” reads her Forbes bio.
Ironically, one of her recent pieces was titled, in part, ‘Tips to Protect Your Business from Cybercriminals’ and even featured an interview with a cryptocurrency exchange owner about how to prevent fraud.
If found guilty, they could each serve up to 25 years in prison.
At the time, the stolen cryptocurrency valued at $71 million however, that number has now risen to a whopping $4.5 billion (£3.3 billion).
In a statement, Bitfinex described feeling ‘pleased’ the stolen funds had been recovered.