Justice Department Charges Individuals for Attempting to Launder Billions in Stolen Bitcoin

Alvaro Marañon
Tuesday, February 8, 2022, 1:54 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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On Feb. 8, the Department of Justice released a criminal complaint against two individuals for an alleged conspiracy to launder billions of dollars in cryptocurrency. The Justice Department charged Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan with conspiring to commit money laundering and conspiring to defraud the United States. 

The two individuals are accused of attempting to launder 119,754 bitcoins, stemming from the 2016 hack of the cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex. The complaint alleges that the two individuals relied upon numerous laundering techniques to evade law enforcement including, “using fictitious identities to set up online accounts…depositing the stolen funds into accounts at a variety of virtual currency exchanges and darknet markets and then withdrawing the funds…converting bitcoin to other forms of virtual currency,” and more.  This is the largest cryptocurrency seizure in the Department of Justice’s history as the recovered cryptocurrency is currently valued at more than $3.6 billion.

The press release is available here and the criminal complaint with the added statement of facts is below. 



Alvaro Marañon is a former fellow in Cybersecurity Law at Lawfare. Alvaro is a graduate from the American University Washington College of Law and the University of New Hampshire.

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