Alleged Masterminds Of $4.5 Billion Crypto Heist Also Auteurs Of Weapons-Grade Internet Vanity Trash
5:17 PM EST on February 8, 2022
The Justice Department announced today they'd arrested the two people behind the 2016 Bitfinex hack and recovered 94,636 of the 119,754 bitcoins stolen in the heist. That haul is currently valued at more than $3.6 billion, making it the largest financial seizure in United States history. That's so much money—enough, to use an example everyone can agree is relevant, to buy the Sacramento Kings twice. Because the theft and recovery involved cryptocurrency, the details are all pretty fascinating.
For instance, one of the actual crimes the pair of alleged masterminds are accused of committing is money laundering, which is somewhat redundant given, again, that we are dealing with cryptocurrency. In this case, the feds say Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan successfully laundered 21 percent of their bitcoin plunder through a number of labyrinthine pathways, including setting up fake accounts, swapping BTC for gold, and buying a bunch of PlayStation and WalMart gift cards. The feds found the unlaundered 79 percent just, uh, sitting in Lichtenstein's cloud storage account, which they pretty easily recovered after getting a search warrant.
That's funny, and this chart is cool, though the real intrigue has to do with who Lichtenstein and Morgan are.
The answer to that one is pretty simple: they are the coolest people in the world. Here they are the day before the hack, in a picture posted by Morgan with the caption, "I will always love getting into trouble w/ this crazy guy. ❤️😎🐐 Thanks for always inspiring me to be a better entrepreneur!" Not sure about the "better entrepreneur" clause, but the "getting in trouble" bit absolutely came true. Lichtenstein is a self-identified angel investor interested in cloud services, an area in which he was apparently not sufficiently interested given that he couldn't use it effectively enough to avoid getting caught by the feds. Most of his posts are about NFTs and all of them are boring.
Morgan, however, bills herself as a "Surrealist Artist, Rapper" and "Forbes writer" performing under the stage name Razzlekhan. She is indeed all of these things. Her website, a bad place, describes her artistic output like this:
Her style has often been described as "sexy horror comedy," because of her fondness for combining dark and disturbing concepts with dirty jokes and gestures.Just like her fearless entrepreneurial spirit and hacker mindset, Razz shamelessly explores new frontiers of art, pushing the limit of what's possible. Whether that leads to something wonderful or terrible is unclear; the only thing that's certain is it won't be boring or mediocre.Razzlekhan
She said she takes inspiration from Die Antwoord and Mickey Avalon, which is both superficially true and incredibly insulting to both artists. Here's her music video for "Versace Bedouin," which rhymes "Jane Austen romance" and "taxidermy class":
Delightful. She's also obviously on TikTok, producing whatever the hell this is:
The bitcoins that Lichtenstein and Morgan are accused of stealing were worth $71 million when they were stolen, but as crypto prices blew up in 2020, the pair were suddenly billionaires. If you came into $4.5 billion, what would you do with it? Would you buy a designer cat and take it on walks around Manhattan? Would you write inane columns for Inc.? Would you spend some of that money financing one of the greatest crimes against rap in all of human history? Like a true multihyphenate, Morgan has used the alleged windfall that, again, represents the largest asset seizure in United States history to profane the written, musical, and visual arts.
Morgan and Lichtenstein face possible 20-year jail sentences for their alleged roles in ripping off Bitfinex (which is itself extremely shady), so if you want more Razzlekhan music, you'll have to tide yourself over with "MOON n STARS," which is about how much she likes Lichtenstein (the guy not the European principality) and begins, "You make my heart like jelly / I wanna go and tickle, your belly."
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