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NYC Couple Pleads Responsible to Cash Laundering in $3.6 Billion Bitfinex Hack

Aug 04, 2023THNCryptocurrency / Cyber Crime

Bitfinex Hack

A married couple from New York Metropolis has pleaded responsible to cash laundering fees in reference to the 2016 hack of cryptocurrency inventory trade Bitfinex, ensuing within the theft of about 120,000 bitcoin.

The event comes greater than a yr after Ilya Lichtenstein, 35, and his spouse, Heather Morgan, 33, had been arrested in February 2022, following the seizure of roughly 95,000 of the stolen crypto property that had been held by the defendants. The funds had been valued at $3.6 billion on the time.

Since then, the U.S. authorities stated it has since seized one other roughly $475 million tied to the breach.


“Lichtenstein used a variety of superior hacking instruments and methods to realize entry to Bitfinex’s community,” the U.S. Division of Justice (DoJ) stated. “As soon as inside their techniques, Lichtenstein fraudulently licensed greater than 2,000 transactions wherein 119,754 bitcoin was transferred from Bitfinex to a cryptocurrency pockets in Lichtenstein’s management.”

He’s additionally alleged to have roped in his spouse to launder the crypto proceeds utilizing strategies each various and complicated: establishing on-line accounts by way of faux identities, exchanging a bit of the bitcoin into gold cash and different crypto property, and protecting up the path by sending the funds by mixing companies.

A big portion of the unlawful cash was moved to the now-defunct darknet market AlphaBay, blockchain analytics agency Chainalysis famous final month, which it stated was used as a mixer by depositing the stolen Bitcoin and withdrawing equal quantities.

Bitfinex Hack

Following the regulation enforcement takedown of AlphaBay, the cryptocurrency was despatched to different mixers and digital forex exchanges (VCEs). Then in 2020 and 2021, part of the digital property had been transformed to fiat forex and moved to a U.S. checking account.

The pair additional bought reward playing cards for Walmart and different companies at one other VCE (named VCE 10 in court docket paperwork) – which provided a specialised service dedicated to crypto-for-gift card trades – utilizing the bitcoin that was moved to the trade beforehand.

“In the long run, the reward card purchases described above supplied essential clues within the investigation,” Chainalysis stated.


“After tracing the preliminary actions of cryptocurrency, investigators found {that a} private pockets tackle starting with 36B6mu, which had obtained over $1 million price of Bitcoin related to the Bitfinex hack, supplied funding for the account at VCE 10 used to buy reward playing cards.”

The probe additionally discovered that the Walmart reward card particularly was redeemed by the retail big’s iPhone app below an account in Morgan’s title, enabling authorities to get a search warrant for the couple’s house and their cloud storage accounts.

The latter turned out to be a significant break, because it led to the invention of information containing particulars of the cryptocurrency addresses used to maneuver the stolen funds, together with their non-public keys, together with the fraudulent info used to open accounts at numerous crypto exchanges and their plans to accumulate faux passports.

Lichtenstein, a Russian nationwide, faces a most penalty of 20 years in jail, with Morgan, who pleaded responsible to at least one rely of cash laundering conspiracy and one rely of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., awaits a most jail time period of 10 years.

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