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Woman Who Touted Herself As 'Badass' Rapper Accused Of Being Part Of $3.6B Crypto Hack
Heather Morgan created an alter-ego named Razzlehkan, describing herself as "Genghis Khan, but with more pizzazz."
A New York woman named in a multi-billion dollar cryptocurrency hack moonlighted as a self-proclaimed rapper who appeared in several amateur online videos.
On Tuesday, Heather Morgan, 31, and her husband, Ilya Lichenstein, 34, were arrested in Manhattan for their roles in a sophisticated laundering scheme aimed to procure stolen virtual currency, according to the Department of Justice. Feds claimed they stood to acquire funds stolen from the 2016 hack of Bitfinex, presently valued at $4.5 billion, resulting in charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Officials have recovered $3.6 billion so far.
“Today’s arrests, and the department’s largest financial seizure ever, show that cryptocurrency is not a safe haven for criminals,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “In a futile effort to maintain digital anonymity, the defendants laundered stolen funds through a labyrinth of cryptocurrency transactions.”
The Department of Justice alleges the couple “employed sophisticated laundering techniques” to wash money through darknet markets (including AlphaBay) and several virtual currency exchanges in a practice referred to as “chain hopping.” The transactions see criminals jump between varying cryptocurrencies at rapid succession in an attempt to lose potential trackers, according to Lexology.
A federal complaint shows the alleged crimes began in August 2016. The elaborate scheme, as investigated by special agent Christopher Janczewski, details flow charts, mapping a trail of the stolen cryptocurrency that allegedly landed in Morgan and Liechtenstein’s possession, according to an arrest affidavit. The Department of Justice alleges both Lichenstein and Morgan conspired to launder 119,754 bitcoin taken in the Bitfinex heist.
But since the alleged crimes began in 2016, Heather Morgan seemed to leave her mark as an aspiring influencer across the internet.
Morgan identified herself as a “Razzlekhan: badass CEO and female rapper who’s ready to take on Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and any other place that oppresses individual uniqueness and self-expression,” as first revealed in a tweet by NBC News reporter Kevin Collier.
Collier shared a glimpse into Morgan’s alter-ego by sharing Razzlekhan’s 2019 rap anthem “Versace Bedouin,” a production dedicated to “all the weirdos, entrepreneurs, hackers, misfits, and all the people who pursue what they want.”
The music video, filmed on Wall Street, is adjacent to Morgan and Lichenstein’s Manhattan home, according to The New York Times. The married couple rent the upper-floor apartment, which is reportedly estimated at $1 million in value.
On the Razzlekhan website, the artist describes herself as “Genghis Khan, but with more pizzazz.”
“No one knows for sure where this rapper’s from- could be the North African desert, the jungles of Vietnam, or another universe,” the website states. “All that matters is she’s here to stick up for the misfits and underdogs everywhere.”
Her Youtube channel consists of many DIY projects, karaoke videos, and even the unboxing of a couple of dozen prosthetic eyeballs.
“Just like her fearless entrepreneurial spirit and hacker mindset, Razz shamelessly explores new frontiers of art, pushing the limit of what’s possible,” according to Morgan’s website. “Whether that leads to something wonderful or terrible is unclear; the only thing that’s certain is it won’t be boring or mediocre.”
Beyond Morgan’s self-assessments and flashy conduct, more information is being unearthed about the alleged fraudster and her husband, who also goes by ‘Dutch,’ according to federal documents. The NYT reported the pair gave spiels on the importance of protecting one’s cryptocurrency and its prospects.
Morgan even wrote in a 2014 blog post that “Bitcoin will become a valuable lesson in economics textbooks of the classic bubble riddled with scams,” according to the NYT.
Lichenstein also criticized new articles on Twitter for including “almost nothing about how to secure your keys,” referencing the very kind of digital passwords intercepted by federal agents during their investigation.
On Morgan’s LinkedIn profile, she refers to herself as “a serial entrepreneur, prolific writer, irreverent comedic rapper, and investor in B2B software companies with high growth potential.” She has contributed articles to several outlets, including Forbes and Inc magazine. Her contributions have included titles such as “Use This Simple Framework To Run Your Life Like A Boss CEO.”
Lichenstein is named as a tech entrepreneur on his LinkedIn profile, who is “interested in blockchain technology, automation, and big data.”
Morgan and Lichenstein were scheduled to make their initial appearances in federal court on Tuesday in Manhattan, according to the Department of Justice. Each faces 25 years in prison if convicted for the crimes.