U.S. police seize $3.6 billion worth of bitcoins from hackers
In early February, U.S. authorities managed to find two attackers who hacked the Bitfinex crypto exchange in 2016, stealing about $4.5 billion. During the arrest, $3.6 billion worth of cryptocurrency was confiscated.
According to a Justice Department press release, the detainees were 34-year-old Ilya Lichtenstein and his 31-year-old wife, Heather Morgan. They are both from New York City, where they were arrested.
According to court documents, the couple stole 119,754 bitcoins from the Bitfinex crypto exchange in 2016. They tried to launder some of the stolen assets by sending money through so-called "mixers", special programs that conduct cryptocurrency transactions from different wallets dozens and hundreds of times, making it difficult to find the owner.
“Today’s arrests, and the department’s largest financial seizure ever, show that cryptocurrency is not a safe haven for criminals,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “In a futile effort to maintain digital anonymity, the defendants laundered stolen funds through a labyrinth of cryptocurrency transactions. Thanks to the meticulous work of law enforcement, the department once again showed how it can and will follow the money, no matter what form it takes.”
The hackers will face a federal court in New York, which will decide their future fate.