CRYPTO & FASHION
GOVERNMENT SEIZES BILLIONS IN CRYPTO
North Korean hackers who extorted American medical organizations for $500,000 have gotten all of the stolen money seized by the US government. The IRS on the other hand seized a staggering 3.5 billion dollars in cryptocurrency during the year of 2021. The way that hackers are able to clean the money they steal in cryptocurrency is by money laundering. Cyber hackers were able to make $8.6 billion in 2021 alone. It is suspected that North Korea uses the stolen cryptocurrency to fund its government. Cyber thieves use tactics such as peel chains, chain hopping and cryptocurrency mixing to remain undetected. However, the government is able to trace the activity of these hackers by investing into analysis tools and blockchain surveillance like TRM Labs, Elliptic and Chainanalysis. They then compromise stolen crypto, make arrests with a warrant or cooperate with an adversary to seize the cryptocurrency.
DOJ SEIZES $3.6 BILLION IN BITCOIN
During 2016, the Department of Justice seized $3.6 Billion in Bitcoin and two individuals were arrested. This was the largest financial seizure in history. The two people responsible were Ilya Lichtenstein along with his wife Heather Morgan who reside in Manhattan, New York. The bitcoin was stolen from Bitfinex, which is a part of Tether. Tether is the largest stablecoin in the market. The couple attempted to launder over 110,000 bitcoin after Bitfinex was hacked and breached. At the time, the bitcoin stolen was valued at about $71 million. Today, that same bitcoin amount is valued at $4.5 billion. Ari Redbord, the TRM Labs head of legal and government affairs claims that this financial seizure shows how significant blockchains are in helping law enforcement track cash smuggling. Lichtenstein and Morgan were separately represented and didn’t speak in court. In court it was stated that both defendants used sophisticated methods of laundering the money such as using fake accounts to carry out transactions, computer programming that automatically processed transactions and hid their transactions in the Alphapay Marketplace. Both defendants were able to cash their bitcoins with bitcoin ATMs and they also purchased gold, a Walmart gift card and NFTs with the funds. Liechtenstein and Morgan currently are facing 20 years in prison for money laundering and potentially an additional 5 for the conspiracy of defrauding the United States.