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Bitcoin case: Meet the couple who allegedly scammed 4.5B in crypto | Fox Business

this week, the justice department carried out its largest cryptocurrency bust to date after seizing billions in bitcoins stolen from ilya lichtenstein and his wife, heather morgan, aka “wall street crocodile” .

fox business takes a look at who the pair are and how they allegedly stole approximately $4.5 billion worth of bitcoin.

Reading: Couple bitcoin scam

Justice Department seizes $3.6 billion in stolen bitcoins and arrests New York couple in largest crypto bust to date

heather morgan aka ‘wall street crocodile’

Heather Morgan has held many roles, including economist, writer, and executive sales manager. As a writer, she has contributed to publications such as Forbes and Inc. magazine.

In an article for Forbes in 2019, Morgan advises exhausted executives to try rapping, something he pursued after “everything started to fall apart” during a business trip to Asia in 2018.

“Within a few weeks, I received legal threats, learning that rogue employees who were spoofing numbers and people I once deeply respected were trying to intimidate and shame me into removing content I had posted and strongly believed that the public needed. see,” she explained. “things really suck. And then, to make matters worse, my parents found out they had different types of cancer about a week apart.”

“My life was a mess and I also felt bad about not spending more time with my family and other loved ones,” she added. “That’s when exhaustion hit me like a bag of bricks.”

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thus was born razzlekhan, the self-proclaimed “crocodile of wall street”. According to his website, Razzlekahn is “like Genghis Khan, but with more pizzazz” and is here to “defend misfits and underdogs everywhere.” He cites inspiration from rappers like Mickey Avalaon, Tierra Whack, and South African duo Die Antwood, as well as creative works from Salvador Dali, Diane Arbus, Hunter S Thompson, Roald Dahl, and Charles Bukowsky. In addition to being a rapper, she is also a self-described designer and surrealist artist.

In June 2020, Morgan wrote an article titled “Experts share tips for protecting your business from cybercriminals.”

ilya lichtenstein

According to lichtenstein’s linkedin, the 34-year-old is a tech investor, entrepreneur, and investor with an interest in blockchain technology, automation, and big data. The middle story of him also refers to him as an “occasional scout and mage”.

In May 2011, Lichtenstein became the co-founder and CEO of mixrank, a platform used by sales teams to automate prospecting and finding new customers by scanning millions of businesses, websites, and mobile apps. According to his website, the company received seed funding from Y Combinator in 2011 and has been backed by investors, including Mark Cuban.

then founded endpass in 2018, a blockchain startup that solves “decentralized identity and authentication” problems. In 2019, he and his then-girlfriend, Heather Morgan, got engaged. According to his Facebook page, Lichtenstein proposed through a “creative multi-channel marketing campaign.”

lichtenstein recently served as a mentor at global 500, a venture capital firm with over $2.3 billion in assets under management that invests early in founders building fast-growing technology companies, advisor at salesfolk, a specialist company in cold email copywriting and an investor in demandpath, a boutique micro-fund that invests in “the next generation of promising technologies.”

bitcoin is trading above $43,000 on Wednesday morning

the arrest of lichtenstein and morgan

The New York City couple was arrested in Manhattan on Tuesday for an alleged conspiracy to launder cryptocurrency that was stolen during the 2016 hack of bitfinex, a virtual currency exchange, and currently valued at approximately $4.5 billion.

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The criminal complaint alleges that Lichtenstein and Morgan used different laundering techniques, including using false IDs to set up online accounts; use computer programs to execute fast, automated transactions; depositing stolen funds into numerous crypto exchange accounts to cover transaction history; convert bitcoin to other forms of virtual currency; and use us-based business accounts. uu. to make your funds look legitimate.

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According to court documents, a hacker allegedly laundered the proceeds of 119,754 bitcoins through 2,000 transactions on the bitfinex website over the course of five years and transferred those funds to Lichtenstein’s digital wallet. Approximately 25,000 of those bitcoins were then transferred from that wallet through a complicated laundering process to accounts controlled by both Lichtenstein and Morgan, according to the documents. More than 94,000 bitcoins remained in the Lichtenstein wallet used to store the illegal funds, according to the criminal complaint.

Special agents executed search warrants for the couple’s online accounts and accessed files containing their digital wallet passwords linked to the stolen bitfinex funds, allowing agents to seize the stolen bitcoin valued at $3.6 billion at the time of seizure. they used their bitcoin to buy gold and gift cards for personal spending, authorities said.

A New York judge set bail for Morgan and Lichtenstein at $3 million and $5 million, respectively. If convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States, the couple could face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

A representative for morgan and lichtenstein did not immediately respond to a request for comment from fox business.

Audrey Conklin and Daniella Genovese of Fox Business contributed to this report.

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