Before New York couple Heather Morgan and Ilya "Dutch" Lichtenstein were arrested for the biggest-ever cryptocurrency theft in the United States, they lived a flamboyant lifestyle, which they showed off on their social media profiles.
Morgan was a rapper named Razzlekhan, with “more pizzaz than Genghis Khan”. “The Crocodile of Wall Street”, as she called herself, rapped about investments, telling her followers that she loved risks. She was also a contributor for top business magazine Forbes.
Her husband, “a magician and tech entrepreneur”, had a more mellow online presence but was one for grand gestures. He proposed to her in 2019 by having her posters pasted all over New York City, even on the famed Times Square billboards. Lichtenstein even hired designers and an agency for the “wildposting campaign”.
Read: US accuses couple of laundering $4.5 billion in Bitcoin tied to big 2016 hack
“As you may know, Heather is not just a tech entrepreneur...she is also Razzlekhan, the fearless rapper,” Lichtenstein had said in a Facebook post with pictures from the day. “And what better way to propose to an entrepreneur/rapper than with a weird, creative multi-channel marketing campaign?”
The couple have been accused of laundering cryptocurrency stolen during the hack of Bitfinex, a virtual currency exchange, in 2016. The stolen cryptocurrency is presently valued at a whopping $4.5 billion. So far, law enforcement agencies have recovered over $3.6 billion in cryptocurrency linked to that hack.
Morgan and Lichtenstein were produced before a federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. Court documents said that the couple had allegedly conspired to launder the proceeds of 119,754 bitcoin that were stolen from Bitfinex after a hacker breached its system and carried out 2,000 unauthorised transactions.
“Those unauthorized transactions sent the stolen bitcoin to a digital wallet under Lichtenstein’s control,” the US Department of Justice said. “Over the last five years, approximately 25,000 of those stolen bitcoin were transferred out of Lichtenstein’s wallet via a complicated money laundering process that ended with some of the stolen funds being deposited into financial accounts controlled by Lichtenstein and Morgan.”
The couple allegedly set up online accounts with fake identities and used computer programs to automate transactions. “In a methodical and calculated scheme, the defendants allegedly and disguised their vast fortune,” IRS-Criminal Investigation chief Jim Lee said.
Morgan and Lichtenstein could each be handed a jail term of 20 years.