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Couple to Plead Guilty in Multibillion Dollar Bitfinex Bitcoin Theft Case
Heather Morgan and Ilya Lichtenstein, the couple accused of laundering over 100,000 Bitcoin stolen from the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange back in 2016, are seemingly planning to plead guilty early next month as part of a plea deal that’s currently in the works.
At the time of the hack, the stolen Bitcoin were worth about $71 million USD. However, the value of Bitcoin has skyrocketed since then, and the stolen Bitcoin are now worth over $3.5 billion.
It’s unclear what terms the couple have agreed to, as the plea deal has not yet been made public. This development does raise raises questions however about the extent of the couple's involvement in the hack itself – prosecutors have not actually accused Morgan or Lichtenstein of being the hackers who stole the Bitcoin, just of laundering the stolen Bitcoin.
It’s expected that the terms of the plea deal will be announced during a plea hearing on August 3.
The Bitfinex hack is a reminder of the risks associated with leaving one’s Bitcoin with third-party custodians, like cryptocurrency exchanges, which continue to be vulnerable to exploitation by hackers and thieves. It’s also safe to say that cryptocurrency exchanges need to take steps to improve their cybersecurity and that users should potentially consider whether taking self-custody of their Bitcoin is appropriate for their individual circumstances.
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