DOJ Seizes the Stolen Bitcoin from 2016 Bitfinex Hack

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Key Takeaways:

  • DOJ has finally seized the solen bitcoin from the 2016 Bitcoin Hack. 
  • A husband and wife from Manhattan have been arrested for laundering the stolen money.
  • Cryptocurrency proves not to be a haven for criminals. 

Finally, the mystery of the August 2016 Bitfinex Hack, the most significant financial seizure in the crypto industry, unfolds. The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that they have arrested a husband and wife from Manhattan who is suspected of conspiring to launder the stolen cryptocurrency worth 119,756 bitcoin.

Bitfinex, the currency exchange, says that it has been cooperating with DOJ since the beginning of the investigation and will continue to do so to regain rights on the stolen Bitcoin. This action of DOJ proves that cryptocurrency is “not a safe haven for criminals”, says Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

In 2016, Bitfinex Hack represented the most enormous loss of crypto, and its customers suffered miserably. At that time, the value of the stolen Bitcoin was worth $66 million, and now the value is above $4.5 billion, as reported by Justice Department officials. The husband, Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, 31, will be appearing in federal court for the first time on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

Last year, a massive chunk of the stolen money worth almost $750 million was moved when Bitcoin was at its all-time high in mid-April. This transfer was followed by another when earlier this month, 79% of the stolen bitcoins were transferred to an anonymous wallet via two 10,000 BTC transactions. These transactions have been continuing for the last five years from Linchtenstein’s wallet using some complicated money laundering techniques.

Just four months earlier, Monica announced the launch of a New Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team formed by combining anti-money laundering and cybersecurity experts. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Matthew Graves, has said that “As the complaint alleges, the FBI and federal prosecutors were able to trace the movement of Bitcoin from this hack.” 

The FBI Deputy Director, Paul M. Abbate, says that “Criminals always leave tracks, and today’s case is a reminder that the FBI has tools to follow the digital trail, wherever it may lead.”

Bitfinex says that if it receives the stolen bitcoin, it will use 80% of the same “to repurchase and burn outstanding UNUS SED LEO tokens” within 18 months of the recovery. These can be gained in open market transactions or by getting UNUS SED LEO in over-the-counter trades.

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Shreya Bhattacharya

A journalist & writer exploring new topics every day!