Only three days after Ilya a.k.a. “Dutch” Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan were arrested, Netflix announced that it ordered a doc series about the famous and eccentric couple, who were recently accused of laundering billions of dollars’ worth of Bitcoin tokens stolen in 2016 during the Bitfinex hack.
As Bitcoin trading is becoming increasingly popular among retail and professional investors, docuseries and reality content about scandals in the crypto-sphere seems to be a relatively new target for the streaming company, hoping to attract and retain viewers looking for hot true-crime documentaries or fictional series of real-world stories.
In the United States, documentaries are among the most watched content on Netflix, as Americans look for ways to escape from home in other people’s lives. According to the streaming giant, Americans spent twice as much as time watching documentaries in 2020 than in 2019. Stories and scandals about the failures and frauds in the tech world are becoming increasingly popular on streaming services, with recent shows, films and documentaries such as The Tinder Swindler, WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn, Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal and others appearing recently.
True crime tale coming to Netflix with the hottest Bitcoin heist couple Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan
Chris Smith, who also produced the big 2020 hit Tiger King and FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, as well as Nick Bilton, known for American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road and The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, will be producing the new crypto couple docuseries, relaying this married couple’s alleged scheme to launder about 120,000 BTC.
Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his girlfriend, Heather Morgan, 31, were charged earlier this month with conspiring to launder a bit less than 120,000 Bitcoin, which were stolen during one of the largest financial crypto-crimes in history – the 2016 hack of the popular Hong-Kong based Bitcoin exchanged, Bitfinex. During this hack, crypto-thieves stole more than $70 million worth of BTC at the time through more than 2,000 unauthorized crypto-transactions, now with a current market worth of more than $5 billion.
The New-York couple allegedly succeeded in laundering about 25,000 BTC (worth over $1.08 billion today) by investing in Gold as well as NFTs using different identities and financial online accounts, as well as other “sophisticated laundering techniques” according to the government. The Department of Justice (DoJ) was able to recover $3.6 billion after they raided their New York apartment, which makes it the largest such financial seizure ever for the department. Documents about alleged getaway plans to Ukraine or Russia, $40,000 in cash, as well as a large amount of money in different foreign currencies were found in their apartment.
With this case, federal law enforcement highlighted the fact that it is possible to follow money through the blockchain regardless of what some people believe about the anonymity of the blockchain technology. Some experts hope that crypto-crime won’t slow down crypto-adoption, as crypto-assets are becoming an increasingly significant part of the US. financial system (and of the overall financial system).