US authorities reported the capture in New York of two hackers associated with the hacking of the Bitfinex exchange in 2016.
Based on information in press release The U.S. Department of Justice, the defendants are the spouses: 34-year-old Ilya Lichtenstein and 31-year-old Heather Morgan.
“Judicial documents state that Liechtenstein and Morgan allegedly colluded to launder the proceeds of 119,754 BTC stolen from Bitfinex after a hacker hacked into the platform’s systems and performed more than 2,000 unauthorized transactions,” the agency’s website says.
Officials also report that the stolen cryptocurrency ended up going to a Liechtenstein-controlled wallet.
“Over the past five years, around 25,000 of these stolen bitcoins have been removed from the Liechtenstein wallet through a complex money laundering process. This process culminated in the transfer of part of the stolen funds to financial accounts controlled by Liechtenstein and Morgan.”.
The remainder of the stolen coins – more than 94,000 BTC – “remained in a wallet that was used to receive and store illegal proceeds associated with the hack.”
“After the search, special agents gained access to files in an online account that was under the control of Liechtenstein. These files contained the private keys needed to access the digital wallet that directly received the funds stolen from Bitfinex, allowing special agents to legally seize and return more than 94,000 bitcoins stolen from the platform. The recovered bitcoins are valued at over $3.6 billion at the time of the operation.”
According to representatives of the Ministry of Justice, this is the largest case of confiscation of cryptocurrency in the history of the department.
Recall that after hack (August 2016) Bitfinex lost almost 120,000 BTC (about $60 million at the time) and for a while suspended work. Over time, the administration of the exchange suggested a reward of up to $3.6 million for helping to recover stolen bitcoins.
Two years ago (August 2020) Bitfinex Announces $400M Reward for facilitating the return of funds stolen from the platform in 2016.
Reward from Bitfinex for capturing a hacker