A couple from New York have admitted to stealing $4.5bn worth of cryptocurrency from the Bitfinex exchange.
Ilya "Dutch" Lichtenstein and his wife Heather "Razzlekhan" Morgan on Thursday plead guilty to lifting 120,000 bitcoin from the global exchange site in 2016. At the time the cryptocurrency was worth some $3.6bn but that figure has since been bumped up to $4.5bn.
How a Russian man named Lichtenstein who was living in New York got the nickname "Dutch" is beyond us.
According to authorities, Lichtenstein managed to gain illegal access to the Bitfiniex service in 2016 using what they called "a number of advanced hacking tools and techniques."
Once inside, it is said that the hacker then proceeded to conduct approximately 1,200 transactions in which the 120,000 bitcoin were shifted from their rightful owners to wallets controlled by Lichtenstein.
Morgan, who was at the time an aspiring rapper performing under the handle "Razzlekhan," admitted to helping Lichtenstein launder the pilfered cryptocoins through various means.
"Lichtenstein, at times with Morgan’s assistance, employed numerous sophisticated laundering techniques," US attorneys said.
"Including using fictitious identities to set up online accounts; utilizing computer programs to automate transactions; depositing the stolen funds into accounts at a variety of darknet markets and cryptocurrency exchanges and then withdrawing the funds, which obfuscates the trail of the transaction history by breaking up the fund flow."
It is said by prosecutors that the couple used a number of cryptocoin 'mixer' sites to help obfuscate their trail, moving the stolen currency through the services to go from illegal to seemingly legal accounts controlled by Lichtenstein and Morgan.
Morgan is also said to have taken a portion of the payout in gold coins and attempted to conceal the funds by trying to bury them. In New York City.
The scheme was broken up by authorities in 2022 when the couple were arrested and the stolen cryptocoins were seized.
Lichtenstein plead guilty to one count of money laundering. Morgan has plead guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Ilya faces a maximum of 20 years, while Heather is looking at five years for each of her charges.