The Department of Justice said Tuesday morning that it has recovered more than $3.6 billion in allegedly stolen cryptocurrencies tied to the 2016 Bitfinex hack.
Authorities apprehended a New York couple as part of the operation on suspicion of attempting to launder the digital items. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco stated in a statement that it is the agency’s greatest financial seizure ever.
The 2016 hack resulted in the theft of 120,000 BTC, which was worth roughly $60 million at the time and represented nearly one-sixth of overall trade activity. The total quantity of bitcoin stolen is worth $4.5 billion at today’s values, yet the DOJ only seized roughly 94,000 BTC worth $3.6 billion.
The DOJ announcement claims that the two colluded to launder these funds and strongly suggests, but does not claim, that they were the initial hacker (s).
On-chain sleuths discovered a transfer of over 94,000 Bitfinex bitcoins last week. According to CoinDesk’s sources, the transfer was the result of a government seizure. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco stated in a statement that it was “the department’s largest financial seizure ever.”
“U.S. authorities traced the stolen funds on the BTC blockchain,” according to an attached factual statement, as proceeds from the theft moved from the first recipient wallet to accounts purportedly held by Lichtenstein and Morgan.
After decrypting a file “saved to Lichtenstein’s cloud storage account,” which included 2,000 crypto wallet addresses and associated private keys, law enforcement investigators were able to access the initial recipient wallet, named Wallet 1CGA4s.
Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, 31, were arrested, according to authorities. Later in the day, the pair is set to appear in federal court for the first time. The legal representation of Lichtenstein and Morgan was not immediately evident.