- A husband and his wife who pulled a crypto heist in 2016 has been caught by the US Department of Justice
- 34-year-old Ilya and his wife, Heather Morgan, 31, were apprehended in New York while attempting to launder proceeds of the bitcoins
- The couple used the funds made from the stolen cryptos to buy gold and nonfungible tokens and other valuables
The Department of Justice in the US has said it has taken possession of more than 94,000 bitcoin stolen in 2016 and currently costs at about N1.494 trillion.
A couple accused of wanting to launder the bitcoin was apprehended in New York, according to a statement by the Department.
34-year-old Ilya Lichtenstein and his 31-year-old Heather Morgan were set to appear in court over the charges on Wednesday, February 9, 2022.
Cryptos not a safe heaven for criminals
They may spend up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
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Lichtenstein and his wife, Morgan allegedly wanted to launder the money made from the 119,754 bitcoin which was valued at N26.9 billion stolen during a 2016 hack of the crypto exchange, Bitfinex.
Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General of the US Department of Justice, said the arrest underscores the point that crypto is not a safe haven for criminals
According to prosecutors, some of the stolen cryptos were sent to a wallet that is controlled by Lichtenstein.
About 25,000 of the cryptos were transferred tout of the wallet within five years through a maze of crypto transactions and some of the funds were deposited into accounts they opened virtually where they used false identities.
Gold and NFTs
They used the proceeds to buy gold and NFTs, US officials say.
The remaining N1.494 trillion worth of bitcoins were recovered last week by investigators in the US.
The authorities recovered the online accounts of the couple and the security key used to gain access to the digital wallet.
Bitfinex had offered a multimillion-dollar compensation for information that could lead to the recovery of the stolen funds.
CBN Defends Clampdown on Cryptocurrency
Legit.ng has reported that The Central Bank of Nigeria has justified its ban on cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria, claiming that the industry and its participants are "embedded in illegality."
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, expressed his disapproval while speaking with Arise TV on Tuesday, 16 November 2021.
According to Emefiele, the directive to deposit banks to close the accounts of cryptocurrency dealers is to protect Nigerians and the banking space has no room for cryptocurrency.