More than $3.6 billion in Bitcoin has been recovered from a hack six years ago — and the suspect in the case certainly didn't keep a low profile.
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Bitcoin worth $3.6 billion has been recovered by the U.S. Justice Department — its biggest financial seizure ever. The crypto has been linked to the Bitfinex hack in 2016. Two people have been arrested on suspicion of attempting to launder crypto. A total of 119,754 BTC was taken — 25,000 of which was moved through a "complicated money laundering scheme." Detectives say this proves cybercriminals will be brought to justice, and Bitfinex is now working to be reunited with the lost funds.
Husband-and-wife Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan were arrested in Manhattan on Tuesday. She is an amateur rapper who has written articles for Forbes — and didn't keep a low profile. Morgan even held events offering advice on how people can socially engineer themselves out of bad situations. They appeared in court with separate legal counsel. His bail has been set at $5 million, and hers at $3 million if her parents post their home as a security. They face 20 years in jail if convicted.
The details of this case suggest trying to launder $4.5 billion in crypto isn't easy. They may have been identified after the Alphabay darknet marketplace was seized by law enforcement in 2017. The couple also opened seven accounts on one crypto exchange, but their access was frozen because their identities could not be verified. It's claimed they ended up turning the crypto into prepaid debit cards that were spent on Uber rides and PlayStations. All of this tells us Know Your Customer checks work.
In other news, viewers of the Super Bowl this weekend are set to be inundated with crypto ads. FTX.US has announced that it is throwing a Bitcoin giveaway on Sunday — and the later its advert airs, the bigger the prize. Crypto.com and eToro have also taken out 30-second spots, which cost a whopping $7 million. Dogecoin enthusiast and NFT collector Snoop Dogg is also performing at the half-time show. Binance is urging the public not to be drawn in by celeb endorsements of crypto.
Russia has unveiled plans to regulate cryptocurrencies — reducing the risk of an outright ban. Estimates suggest more than 12 million crypto wallets have now been opened in the country. Officials fear a lack of regulation means law enforcement "will not be able to respond effectively to offenses and crimes committed through their use." The government also admitted that "a complete ban on the segment of transactions related to its circulation was not possible."