The eccentric couple charged with laundering billions of bucks’ price of hacked bitcoin used tips that had been “pulled from the pages of a secret agent novel” – with monetary accounts in Russia and Ukraine, faux identities and a “contingency plan” to escape out of the country, the feds stated in courtroom paperwork.
Prosecutors warned Ilya “Dutch” Lichtenstein, 34, and his newbie rapper female friend Heather Morgan, 31 – who’re charged with laundering $4.5 billion in crypto stolen in a 2016 hack – must stay in custody till their trial given “extremely troubling” get entry to to loads of hundreds of thousands of bucks in cryptocurrency, out of the country connections and faux identities.
“Having now been charged and seeing the power of the case, the defendants’ incentive to escape is dramatically greater,” the prosecutors stated. “Briefly, no situation or aggregate of stipulations can reliably be certain that the semblance of such subtle defendants with the approach to escape and plentiful incentive to take action.”
The feds allege that Lichtenstein and Morgan have “get entry to to a lot of fraudulent identities and paperwork bought at the darknet, and the power to simply gain extra.” The paperwork famous that the couple gave the impression to “had been putting in place a contingency plan for a existence in Ukraine and/or Russia previous to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The paperwork additionally contained main points on a federal raid of the couple’s New York rental in January, right through which Morgan tried to fasten her telephone whilst pretending to retrieve her cat and government “needed to wrest” the tool from her palms.
“Morgan additionally looked to be making an attempt to intervene with regulation enforcement’s seek of the defendants’ place of dwelling through grabbing for and making an attempt to fasten her telephone underneath the pretense of retrieving her cat,” the paperwork stated.
All over the raid, brokers discovered a more than one telephones and SIM playing cards, together with a bag classified “burner telephone.” In overall, the feds discovered greater than 50 digital gadgets on website.
Moreover, prosecutors stated government discovered “two hollowed-out books” in Lichtenstein’s administrative center, in addition to greater than $40,000 in money and “what seems to be quite a lot of foreign currencies.”
Prosecutors famous that Lichtenstein used digital foreign money to shop for “over 70 one-ounce gold cash,” via a treasured metals broker, however regulation enforcement didn’t discover a “unmarried gold coin” right through their raids at the couple’s rental and garage unit.
The submitting additionally poked amusing on the couple, noting “bluster” of their request for bail and disputing what prosecutors described as an strive through the protection to “painting defendant Morgan as an unwitting bystander” in spite of her “integral function” within the scheme.”
In a bit classified “suspicious Ukraine task,” prosecutors stated the defendants took a month-long go back and forth to Ukraine in 2019. Recordsdata on Lichtenstein’s cloud garage account contained monitoring numbers suggesting shipments arrived within the nation whilst they had been there and a record written in Russian on “the way to anonymously obtain a parcel in Ukraine.”
The cloud account had a folder titled “personas,” with subfolders titled “RU” for Russia and UA” for Ukraine. The folders purportedly contained ID documentation for “a lot of people,” each female and male.”
Morgan and Lichtenstein are accused of conspiring to launder 119,754 bitcoin they pilfered when a hacker breached crypto change Bitfinex in 2016. They face 25 years in jail.
A self-described entrepreneur, Morgan additionally rapped underneath the title “Razzlekhan” and dubbed herself the “Crocodile of Wall Boulevard. She as soon as penned a Forbes column through which she warned of “Cybercriminals and fraudsters” making the most of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Morgan and Lichtenstein purportedly spent the proceeds from their laundering scheme on a quite a lot of purchases, together with $500 Walmart reward card, the aforementioned gold cash and NFTs, in keeping with the felony criticism.
The Justice Division stated it has captured $3.6 billion in cryptocurrency from the Bitfinex hack in its “biggest monetary seizure ever.”