Ilya Lichtenstein, who pleaded guilty in an agreement to laundering funds from the Bitfinex hack in 2016, has admitted that he was the real hacker. Lichtenstein and his wife converted some of the stolen assets into gold coins, which they later buried. The couple faces up to 20 years in prison and has agreed to forfeit the proceeds of the nearly 120,000 stolen Bitcoin.

The story of “the Bonnie and Clyde” of the crypto world seems to be coming to an end, since in a turn of events, one of them recognized that he was responsible for the hack perpetrated against Bitfinex in 2016.

The revelations came at a hearing held on August 3 before the Federal District Court in Washington, DC, where Ilya Lichtenstein, 35, and his wife Heather Morgan, 32, appeared before Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. in separate hearings, both accepting the charges brought by the prosecution related to the laundering of millions of dollars in Bitcoin stolen from the aforementioned exchange.

Although it has long been suspected that Lichtenstein or his wife, Heather Morgan, were responsible for stealing 120,900 Bitcoin, it has only been confirmed so far.

Lichtenstein Admitted to Being the Hacker Responsible for the Attack

At the hearing, Lichtenstein surprised those present by revealing himself as the hacker responsible for the attack perpetrated against Bitfinex in 2016, this despite the fact that the prosecution did not accuse him of said crime in the initial accusations.

By the time the couple were arrested, Assistant General Attorney Lisa O. Monaco said in a press release that it was the department’s largest cryptocurrency seizure, declaring that “cryptocurrency is not a safe haven for criminals.”

During the court hearing, the Bitfinex hacker also admitted that he and his wife turned part of the stolen cryptocurrency assets into gold coins that were buried. According to the CNBC hearing account, Lichtenstein flew to Ukraine and Kazakhstan to convert the cryptocurrencies into cash before depositing the funds into a US bank account.

The facts acknowledged by Lichtenstein and Morgan led many analysts to believe that the couple did not appear to be related to the hack as such, but simply part of the process to legitimize the funds, especially given that the value of those assets increased markedly over time.

Morgan Revealed More Details

In relation to Morgan, during her hearing, she offered more details about the crimes committed by the couple. Among the details revealed by Morgan, she claimed that she was aware that her husband paid rent and other bills with cryptocurrencies since 2014, but she was fully aware of the funds derived from the Bitfinex hack in early 2020.

Instead of informing the authorities, the accused became actively involved in practices to legitimize said capital, among which she highlighted memorizing part of the seed code of a Monero wallet, hiding gold coins, creating a shell company, and facilitating B2B commercial operations.

Although at the moment there is no date for a sentence for those involved, reports on the case indicate that both Morgan and Lichtenstein face maximum sentences of five years in prison, a figure considerably less than the 20 years originally contemplated, all thanks to the agreement. that they achieved with the authorities.

By Marina Meza


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