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US accuses couple of embezzlement $4.5 billion

US authorities have uncovered the biggest-ever cryptocurrency theft. Law enforcement has arrested a married couple suspected to have laundered the money and seized $3.6 billion. That same day, the defendants were released from jail after posting $8 million bail.

The FBI arrested Ilya Lichteinstein, who has Russian-American citizenship, and his American wife, Heather Morgan, on charges of money laundering and conspiracy in relation to the 2016 Bitfinex hack. The hacking resulted in the stolen almost 120,000 bitcoins of some users with a total value of approximately $71 million, presently valued at approximately $4.5 billion.

According to the investigation, the stolen cryptocurrency was sent to Liechtenstein’s digital wallet through two thousand transactions. The defendants then transferred the money to their accounts.

– 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 Monaco of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Bitfinex said it had cooperated with the inquiry and was “pleased” the stolen funds had been recovered.

According to analytics firm Chainalysis, hackers stole $14 billion in cryptocurrency in 2021. Losses from crypto-related crime rose 79% from 2020.