September 29, 2023

A pair accused of laundering billions price of stolen cryptocurrency has agreed to a plea deal, in response to paperwork filed in federal court docket on Friday.

Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his spouse, Heather Morgan, 31, had been arrested final yr after the Justice Division seized $3.6 billion price of cryptocurrency from the couple.

A listening to scheduled for Monday was vacated and as a substitute the couple will seem for an arraignment and plea listening to in Washington, D.C. on August 3.

The main points of the plea deal weren’t out there at press time.

Lichtenstein and Morgan — who is understood extra extensively by her rapper title “Razzlekhan” – had been accused of enjoying a pivotal position in laundering a few of the 119,754 Bitcoin, price about $71 million on the time, stolen from an change known as Bitfinex in August 2016. The funds had been allegedly despatched to cryptocurrency addresses below the suspect’s title by way of greater than 2,000 transactions.

The Division of Justice mentioned that roughly 25,000 Bitcoin had been moved by the couple by way of a “sophisticated cash laundering course of.”

The pair allegedly arrange faux on-line identities to launder the cash, depositing the funds into a number of digital forex exchanges and darknet markets earlier than withdrawing them — all in an effort to muddy the path for investigators.

The couple additionally allegedly used U.S. banks to launder the cash earlier than being caught. Chainalysis tracked the motion of the funds taken by the couple and mentioned they initially deposited the cryptocurrency into the now-defunct darknet market AlphaBay, which the couple “basically used as a mixer by depositing the stolen Bitcoin and withdrawing equal quantities.

“Some funds moved to AlphaBay instantly from the preliminary theft pockets, whereas others had been moved there by way of middleman wallets,” Chainalysis mentioned.

The blockchain analysis agency famous that the couple even cashed out a few of the stolen funds by way of a platform that permits you to purchase present playing cards for Walmart and different companies.

The Justice Division gained entry to the funds after the FBI obtained a search warrant for certainly one of Lichtenstein’s cloud storage accounts. The account had cryptocurrency addresses and personal keys that had been “instantly linked to the hack.”

Morgan was launched on a $3 million bond final yr however authorities held Lichtenstein as a result of a choose deemed him a flight threat as a result of his twin Russian-American citizenship.

Israeli authorities arrested two brothers, Eli and Assaf Gigi, in June 2019 for his or her alleged involvement within the 2016 hack.

The hack of Bitfinex was thought of the biggest ever on a cryptocurrency platform on the time. The Hong Kong-based platform managed to proceed working after the incident, reimbursing all of its prospects.

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Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig is a Breaking Information Reporter at Recorded Future Information. Jonathan has labored throughout the globe as a journalist since 2014. Earlier than shifting again to New York Metropolis, he labored for information retailers in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He beforehand coated cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.