Who is the ‘Crocodile of Wall Street’? A ‘rapper’ charged with laundering $4.5 billion in stolen Bitcoin is baffling the internet
A rapper, an economist, a journalist, a writer, a CEO. Those are just some of the credentials Heather Morgan—a.k.a. Razzlekhan, the self-claimed “infamous Crocodile of Wall Street”—lists off in the 2019 video for her self-produced rap song, “Versace Bedouin.”
But today the 31-year-old Morgan has a few more labels to add to her bona fide rap sheet after the U.S. Department of Justice arrested her and her husband, Ilya Lichtenstein, on Tuesday morning in New York and charged them with laundering $4.6 billion worth of Bitcoin stolen from Hong Kong–based exchange Bitfinex in a 2016 hack.
“Today’s arrests, and the Department’s largest financial seizure ever, show that cryptocurrency is not a safe haven for criminals,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement.
The DOJ didn’t charge Morgan and Lichtenstein with conducting the hack themselves, just with laundering the proceeds. But how Morgan and her alter ego Razzlekhan—who is “like Genghis Khan, but with more pizzazz”—became embroiled in such a lucrative heist has baffled the internet.
Morgan writes as a Forbes contributor, covering topics on career advancement and cybersecurity, and also works as a motivational speaker. In 2019, Morgan gave a talk in a New York salon titled, “How to Social Engineer Your Way Into Anything.”
Lichtenstein keeps a lower profile than his mate, although he seems to embrace Morgan’s eccentricity. According to his Facebook page, Lichtenstein proposed to Morgan in 2019 through an elaborate “creative multichannel marketing campaign.” She said yes.
According to Lichtenstein’s LinkedIn page, the 34-year-old is a graduate of Silicon Valley’s famed startup accelerator Y Combinator, which reportedly backed his 2011 customer tracking app startup MixRank. Together, Morgan and Lichtenstein reportedly cofounded Endpass, a crypto wallet designed to prevent fraud.
The DOJ says it has recovered 119,754 Bitcoin from the couple, which hackers stole from Bitfinex in 2016. At the time, the stolen crypto was worth only $72 million. In a court affidavit, the DOJ details how officers traced the stolen funds across a series of crypto wallets, owned by Morgan and her husband, as the couple attempted to wash the ill-gotten gains.
“In a futile effort to maintain digital anonymity, the defendants laundered stolen funds through a labyrinth of cryptocurrency transactions,” Monaco said, adding that the Justice Department “can and will follow the money, no matter the form it takes.”
Crypto advocates say the traceability of virtual currencies like Bitcoin are a reason the blockchain-based currency is more secure than fiat currency—even though blockchain purists also tout the anonymity afforded by blockchain transactions.
Late on Tuesday, a New York judge granted bail to both Morgan and Lichtenstein, setting a bond of $3 million for Morgan and requiring her parents to post their house as security. Lichtenstein’s bail was set at $5 million. Both face a 20-year prison sentence if convicted. According to USA Today, the couple have not yet entered a plea.
In a statement, Bitfinex said it’s been working with the DOJ in its investigation and is pleased the agency recovered “a significant portion of the Bitcoin stolen during the 2016 hack.”
Since her arrest, rap videos and other questionable footage have disappeared from Razzlekhan’s YouTube channel. Only two playlists remain: One features a motivational video Morgan recorded encouraging people to be true to themselves. The other is a song called “Saudis in Audis.”
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