In 2016, a Hong Kong-based bitcoin exchange platform Bitfinex was the subject of a hack that saw 119,756 BTC, which is valued at approximately $63.7 million USD at the time, disappear from the company. The amount is currently worth approximately $4.5 billion USD.
Earlier this week, the Department of Justice announced that it has found the culprits of the hack and seized over 94,000 BTC and arrested the duo that allegedly conspired to launder the cryptocurrency. The amount seized by the U.S. government is now currently worth about $3.6 billion USD. The DOJ reported that the alleged conspirators Ilya Lichtenstein and his wife Heather Morgan worked together to steal the bitcoin after Bitfinex’s platform was breached by hackers, which initiated over 2,000 unauthorized transactions. The stolen amount found its way to Lichtenstein’s digital wallet and in the past five years, approximately 25,000 of the stolen bitcoin was transferred out of that wallet to other financial accounts controlled by the couple. The remaining 94,000 bitcoin were left in the wallet, thus now seized by the DOJ. The DOJ commented on the arrests stating,
“Today, federal law enforcement demonstrates once again that we can follow money through the blockchain, and that we will not allow cryptocurrency to be a safe haven for money laundering or a zone of lawlessness within our financial system.
The arrests today show that we will take a firm stand against those who allegedly try to use virtual currencies for criminal purposes.”
The criminal case against Lichtenstein and Morgan claims that the couple employed others to their complex laundering scheme, utilizing fake online identities and accounts and depositing stolen funds into said accounts to create complicated trails and transactions. This case marks the largest financial amount seized by the Justice Department in its 151-year history. Lichtenstein and Morgan are currently facing up to 25 years in prison if convicted on the money laundering and conspiracy charges.
In other crypto news, the FTX has confirmed that it will be giving away bitcoin during the Super Bowl.
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