A New York couple is facing federal charges for allegedly trying to launder some $4.5 billion worth of cryptocurrency (crypto). It was taken in a hack of Bitfinex, a crypto exchange, back in 2016.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has seized $3.6 billion of that money. That’s “the department’s largest financial seizure ever,” according to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
The charges the couple, both in their 30s, are facing involve conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Together, these two charges carry a penalty of 25 years in federal prison.
The hack of the Bitfinex platform is just one of a number of such hacks in recent years. Often the hackers require the organization they’ve infected with ransomware to pay in cryptocurrency. Many have paid the ransom demanded in order to regain access to their systems.
Federal authorities are becoming more aggressive
However, authorities are becoming increasingly adept at tracking the elusive currency – and more aggressive in their efforts. One crypto analyst says, “This shows that even when sophisticated money laundering techniques are used, the indelible blockchain records usually allow law enforcement to link criminal activity to individuals.” The DOJ says it’s still investigating the actual Bitfinex hack.
Because of the anonymous nature of crypto and the complications involved in tracking it, proving guilt in one of these cases can be difficult. However, so can providing a defense if you’re charged with involvement in a crime involving cryptocurrency. It’s crucial to have experienced legal guidance if you find that you’re under investigation or if you are arrested.