- Hackers of Bitfinex exchange nabbed five years after.
- Couples behind hack faces 25 years n prison sentence.
The United States of America Justice Department has announced the arrest of hackers behind the notorious 2016 Bitfinex Exchange hack.
In a release on Tuesday, Bitfinex announced that it seized more than $3.6 billion allegedly stolen during the hack, with authorities detaining a New York couple (Ilya Lichtenstein and his wife Heather Morgan) on allegations that they planned to launder the digital assets.
The 119,756 Bitcoin (BTC) worth $72 million at the time hackers breached security at the exchange in August 2016 — is now valued at more than $5.1 billion. In a statement, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said that the seizure marks the agency’s largest financial seizure ever.
Bitfinex exchange hackers play hard to catch
After Bitfinex exchange hack in 2016, players connected to the hack moved small amounts of BTC in separate transactions, leaving the bulk of the funds untouched. They did this to avoid any suspicion.
The DoJ reported that it had traced 25,000 BTC of these transferred funds to financial accounts controlled by Lichtenstein and Morgan. Special agents were then able to gain access to and seize more than 94,000 BTC — worth $3.6 billion at the time — from Morgan and Lichtenstein after a search warrant allowed them to view files containing private keys to the wallet.
Ilya Lichtenstein and his wife are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and conspiracy to defraud the United States, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Crypto platforms have faced a number of hacks and scams in recent months. Scammers took home a record $14 billion in cryptocurrency in 2021, according to data from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis. Most recently, Wormhole, one of the most popular bridges linking the ethereum and Solana blockchains, lost about $320 million in an apparent hack earlier this month.