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US Homeland Security returns $314K from 2016 Bitfinex hack

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Via a July 6 announcement, cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex says it has received $312,219.71 in cash and 6.917 in Bitcoin Cash (BCH) from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The seizure was conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. According to Bitfinex staff:

“This is part of Bitfinex’s ongoing efforts, working with law enforcement and other investigation agencies, to recover assets stolen from the exchange in August 2016. The U.S. government continues to make progress in prosecuting individuals involved in the Bitfinex security breach and in seizing funds associated with the theft.”

The assets will be returned on a pro-rated basis to victims of the 2016 Bitfinex hack. Shortly after the security breach, Bitfinex issued Recovery Rights Tokens (RRT) with a par value of $1 each. There are currently 30 million RRTs in circulation. After redemption of RRTs with recovered assets, the remainder will be paid to token holders of Unus Sed Leo (Leo), Bitfinex’s native token.

In 2016, Bitfinex suffered a security breach resulting in the loss of 119,576 in customers’ Bitcoins (BTC), worth around $70 million at the time and $3.7 billion now. On Feb. 8, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice arrested two individuals, Ilya Lichtenstein and his wife, Heather Morgan, for allegedly conspiring to launder crypto connected to the hack. Special agents were then able to seize more than 94,000 stolen BTC from Morgan and Lichtenstein, after a search warrant allowed them to view files containing private keys to the wallet they owned. Recovery efforts for the funds are still ongoing. 

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