$500 Walmart Gift Card Led to Bitfinex ‘Hackers’ Arrest

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  • A $500 Walmart gift card led investigators to the two Bitfinex launderers
  • Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan were undone by a single purchase sent to one of their email addresses
  • The pair are accused of laundering $3.6 billion from the 2016 Bitfinex hack

The two alleged recipients of the 2016 Bitfinex hack proceeds were undone by a $500 Walmart gift card, federal investigators have said. Ilya ‘Dutch’ Lichtenstein, 34, and Heather R. Morgan, 31, were arrested last week on suspicion of receiving and intending to launder the majority of the $4.5 haul, although the charges did not extend to the hack itself. Investigators were able to pinpoint them after the gift card purchase confirmed an email address that belonged to the pair, which led to their details becoming known.

Russian Email Address Used to Receive Gift Card

Federal investigators were able to crack the six-year-old case and link the couple to the theft by tracking a single $500 gift card after it was sent to a Russian-registered email address. The transaction was conducted via an IP address linked to a cloud service provider in New York that investigators were able to tie to Lichtenstein, officials said recently.

Court documents further showed that portions of the gift card were redeemed through the Walmart phone app and three purchases were conducted online using Morgan’s name and one of her emails, while the couple’s Wall Street apartment address was used for delivery.

Bitfinex Launderers Have Made Headlines

The gift card in question was one of more than a dozen other gift cards, including for Uber, Hotels.com and PlayStation, that investigators were able to trace back to emails and cloud service providers belonging to the pair. This suggests they were using a crypto gift card service such as Bitrefill, which offers quick purchases of gift cards with cryptocurrency.

The case had made headlines all over the world, not just because of the amount but because of the personalities of those involved, in particular Morgan who had a rapper persona and called herself the Crocodile of Wall Street.