What happened — in a bizarre unfolding story, US law enforcement yesterday seized more than $3.6 billion in stolen Bitcoin from a popular couple working in tech and living in New York City!
The dude, Ilya Lichtenstein, a Y-combinator alum is 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, a Forbes columnist and founder of a bunch of cybersecurity firms is 31, who even daylights as a cybercrime advisor to large companies. The irony!
Anyway, so this is how the story goes. The Bitcoin in question, about ~120K coins in total, were originally stolen in 2016 when the crypto-exchange Bitfinex was hacked.
The hackers were offloading a bit here and there, using untraceable crypto coins like Monero, as well as gift cards. Authorities had been trying to locate identities, until they got a hit earlier this year when a large chunk of the stash was offloaded recklessly.
Turns out, the duo were creating wallets using email addresses created in India to cover their trails. After much effort, the FBI was able to link these email addresses and wallets to personal and business accounts of 2 people — Heather and Ilya.
Based on which, warrants were obtained to snoop on public cloud storage used by the duo, and voila… authorities found private keys to the $3.6 billion just lying there in plain text. You cannot make this shit up! Here’s Wall Street Journal.
Worth mentioning — it's unclear whether the culprits arrested had actually orchestrated the hack themselves, or were just laundering the $$ for somebody else. More likely the latter.