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Couple Arrested for Role in 2016 Bitfinex Crypto Hack

Summary:
The Justice Department has arrested a couple in New York for their alleged participation in a crypto scam that occurred roughly six years ago. Ilya Lichtenstein – age 34 – and his wife Heather Morgan, age 31, have been charged with laundering funds garnered through a massive .6 billion cryptocurrency hack that targeted popular digital currency exchange Bitfinex in 2016. The Crypto Space Still Sees Its Fair Share of Hacks Cryptocurrency hacks and thievery in the world of digital money are nothing new, but typically, these attacks result in millions of dollars being lost. The fact that such a massive figure could be stolen and go missing for more than five years is disconcerting for some, but it appears law enforcement officials have made a break in the case. U.S.

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The Justice Department has arrested a couple in New York for their alleged participation in a crypto scam that occurred roughly six years ago. Ilya Lichtenstein – age 34 – and his wife Heather Morgan, age 31, have been charged with laundering funds garnered through a massive $3.6 billion cryptocurrency hack that targeted popular digital currency exchange Bitfinex in 2016.

The Crypto Space Still Sees Its Fair Share of Hacks

Cryptocurrency hacks and thievery in the world of digital money are nothing new, but typically, these attacks result in millions of dollars being lost. The fact that such a massive figure could be stolen and go missing for more than five years is disconcerting for some, but it appears law enforcement officials have made a break in the case.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco has noted that several funds have been seized from the couple, and that this is allegedly the department’s “largest financial seizure ever.” Both Lichtenstein and Morgan are now facing more than 20 years in prison each as they are being accused by regulators of various financial crimes including conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

At the time of writing, the Justice Department has commented that it is still investigating the Bitfinex hack, suggesting that there could still be culprits out there who have escaped sentencing.

While the number is rather large and puts events like Coincheck and Mt. Gox to shame, many crypto analysts are confident this shows the world just how truthful and strong blockchain technology is. Tom Robinson – co-founder of crypto analysis firm Elliptic – explained in an interview:

This shows that even when sophisticated money laundering techniques are used, the indelible blockchain records usually allow law enforcement to link criminal activity to individuals.

Billionaire investor and bitcoin bull Mike Novogratz also threw his two cents into the mix. He stated that the recovery of the funds in question is a positive sign for crypto as it shows that blockchain has merit, fully records all transactions, and is completely transparent for anyone feeling uncomfortable with traditional finance. He said:

It’s why three-letter agencies are learning to like BTC. It’s a good day for crypto security companies.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite also expressed enthusiasm about blockchain, saying:

Federal law enforcement demonstrates once again that we can follow money through the blockchain, and that we will not allow cryptocurrency to be a safe haven for money laundering or a zone of lawlessness within our financial system.

Not Everyone Thinks This Is a Good Thing

Other figures, however, see this as evidence that the crypto space is not safe for investors. Mark Haefele – chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management – mentioned:

Cybersecurity issues are just one of several significant risks investors face when speculating on crypto tokens and coins, which we think is suitable only for highly risk-tolerant and speculative investors.

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