(Reuters) – The US Department of Justice said on Tuesday that it has revealed its largest cryptocurrency theft ever, seized a record $ 3.6 billion in bitcoin linked to the 2016 hack of Bitfinex digital currency exchange and arrested a husband and wife team on charges
Ilya "Dutch" Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, 31, of New York City who were arrested in Manhattan on Tuesday morning, spent the illegal proceeds on items from gold and non-fungible tokens at a Walmart $ 500 gift card, prosecutors said.
The couple had active public profiles, with Ms. Morgan known as the rap singer "Razzlekhan", a pseudonym she said on her website referred to Genghis Khan "but with more pizzazz."
that cryptocurrency "is not a haven for criminals."
Mr. Lichtenstein and Morgan are accused of conspiring to commit money laundering and of defrauding the United States. The case was filed in a federal court in Washington, DC. demanded that their parents provide their homes as security for them to return to court.
The couple is accused of conspiring to launder 119,754 bitcoins that were stolen after a hacker broke into Bitfinex and initiated more than 2,000 illegal transactions. Justice Department officials said the transactions at the time were valued at $ 71 million in bitcoin, but with the increase in the value of the currency, the value is now over $ 4.5 billion.
A key link may have come from the 2017 bust of a subway digital market used to wash some of the funds. U.S. officials said part of the money was transferred to AlphaBay, an all-out version of eBay available on the dark web.
When the site was taken down, it likely allowed authorities to access AlphaBay's internal transaction logs and link them to a cryptocurrency account in Mr. Lichtenstein's name, according to the digital currency tracking company Elliptic.
Bitfinex said in a statement that it was working with the Department of Justice to "establish our rights to return the stolen bitcoin."