A married couple was busted in Manhattan on Tuesday for allegedly making an attempt to launder roughly $4.5 billion in cryptocurrency stolen during a massive 2016 hack, federal prosecutors stated.
Ilya “Dutch” Lichtenstein, 34, and his rapper spouse, Heather Morgan, 31, are accused of conspiring to clean the proceeds of 119,754 bitcoin that have been looted when a hacker breached the methods of digital foreign money change Bitfinex.
The stolen cryptocurrency was allegedly transferred to a digital pockets managed by Lichtenstein, who describes himself as a “Know-how entrepreneur, coder and investor” on his LinkedIn account.
He and his spouse — a self-professed “Serial Entrepreneur” and “surrealist rap” creator — then moved the funds to their accounts through “a sophisticated cash laundering course of,” prosecutors stated.
The couple allegedly spent the unlawful proceeds on issues like gold, NFTs and a $500 Walmart present card, in keeping with the legal grievance unsealed Tuesday.
As a part of the scheme, the duo allegedly “employed quite a few subtle laundering strategies” together with organising on-line accounts beneath bogus identities and transferring the cash via the darknet, prosecutors stated.
Prosecutors stated the pair had a bag labeled “burner telephones” full of cellphones inside their Manhattan condominium, and that Lichtenstein, a twin Russia-US citizen, stored a file known as “passport_ideas” on his pc.
The Justice Division stated particular brokers have been in a position to get well over $3.6 billion in bitcoin stolen through the Bitfinex hack — its largest-ever monetary seizure.
“At the moment’s arrests, and the division’s largest monetary seizure ever, present that cryptocurrency just isn’t a secure haven for criminals,” stated Deputy Legal professional Basic Lisa Monaco.
Bitfinex stated it was working with the DOJ to “set up our rights to a return of the stolen bitcoin.”
Lichtenstein and Morgan are dealing with prices of conspiring to commit cash laundering, in addition to to defraud the US. If convicted of each counts, they may every face a most sentence of 25 years.
The couple have been married final yr. They acquired engaged in 2019, according to a Facebook post from Lichtenstein by which he stated his bride was “my finest pal and the girl of my desires” and “not only a tech entrepreneur” but additionally a “fearless rapper.”
Morgan has launched a lot of rap songs under the alter ego “Razzlekhan,” described as “like Genghis Khan, however with extra pizzazz” on her web site. She additionally gives productiveness suggestions, in keeping with her Instagram.
In a single bizarre 2019 music video titled “Rap Anthem for Misfits & Weirdos: Versace Bedouin Music Video,” Morgan will be seen bouncing round Wall Road in a gold jacket, leopard-print scarf, sun shades and hat with an entourage as she raps: “Come actual far however I don’t know the place I’m headin’. I’m the motherf–ing crocodile of Wall Road.”
She’s additionally acquired a music known as “Getting high in a cemetery” that features the lyric “I really like me some grave grass.”
Justice of the Peace Choose Debra Freeman set pre-trial launch circumstances for Lichtenstein and Morgan when the pair made their first look in a Decrease Manhattan federal courtroom Tuesday night.
Lichtenstein’s bond was set at $5 million, together with his mother and father’ residence posted as safety, 5 co-signers and residential incarceration with digital monitoring. Morgan’s bond was set at $3 million, with two co-signers and residential incarceration with digital monitoring.