A US married couple was arrested on Tuesday by the US Department of Justice for allegedly trying to launder roughly $4.5 billion worth of stolen Bitcoins. The US Justice Department announced had recovered more than 94,000 stolen Bitcoin currently valued at $3.6 billion.
The cryptocurrency was first stolen during a massive 2016 cryptocurrency exchange hack At least 120,000 Bitcoins worth $65 million were stolen at the time. The department said. Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife Heather Morgan, 31, were set to appear in federal court over the charges.
The US Justice Department officials in a press statement called it a “record-shattering amount of stolen cryptocurrency” and said that they have “seized at least $3.6 billion in cryptocurrency linked to that hack that they will now try to return to its rightful owners.”
“Today’s arrests, and the Department’s largest financial seizure ever, show that cryptocurrency is not a safe haven for criminals,” deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco said in the statement.
Lichtenstein, who describes himself on social media as a “technology entrepreneur, coder and investor” send some of the stolen bitcoin was sent to a digital wallet controlled by Lichtenstein and Morgan.
About 25,000 of the stolen bitcoin were transferred out of the wallet over the next five years “through a labyrinth of cryptocurrency transactions,” and the funds were used to buy items such as gold or digital NFTs.
The remaining bitcoin was recovered last week by US investigators, who called on victims of the initial theft to come forward and recover their losses.