The bizarre case of a New York couple accused of trying to launder $4.5 billion in bitcoin stolen in a 2016 hack will be the subject of a docuseries on Netflix, the streaming company said Friday.
The announcement comes just three days after the couple, Ilya “Dutch” Lichtenstein and Heather “Razzlekhan” Morgan, were arrested in their lower Manhattan apartment.
The Department of Justice at the time of the arrest said it had also seized more than $3.6 billion in bitcoin that was part of the alleged scheme, the biggest such financial seizure in DOJ history.
Netflix said the series on the couple will be directed by Chris Smith, who helmed the Netflix series “FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened,” about the fraudulent Fyre Festival, and was executive producer of the company’s Covid pandemic smash hit “Tiger King.”
The deal comes amid a rise in appetite by Hollywood for stories about the tech world, mostly its failures and frauds.
HBO this week ordered a series called “Doomsday Machine,” depicting Sheryl Sandberg, played by “The Crown” star Claire Foy, and Mark Zuckerberg, and “chronicling the political and social minefields Facebook has navigated on its relentless quest for growth.”
Also this week Hulu dropped the trailer for its forthcoming series about failed blood-testing start-up Theranos called “The Drop Out,” and Apple recently dropped its trailer for WeWork-inspired series “WeCrashed.”
Undoubtedly fueling Netflix’s interest is Morgan’s colorful social media footprint. The 31-year-old is a former Forbes.com contributor and self-described “irreverent comedic rapper” and “crocodile of Wall Street” whose rap videos were widely mocked on Twitter after her arrest.
“As the value of the stolen bitcoin soared from $71 million at the time of the hack to nearly $5 billion, the couple allegedly tried to liquidate their digital money by creating fake identities and online accounts, and buying physical gold, NFTs, and more — all while investigators raced to track the money’s movement on the blockchain,” Netflix said in its announcement Friday.
Prosecutors say the couple tried to hide the source of the bitcoin, stolen in a hack of cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex in 2016, through numerous byzantine transactions.
Lichtenstein, 34, and Morgan remain in federal custody. They are due to appear in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., for a hearing on whether they can be released on bail.
Prosecutors want to keep them locked up pending trial in Washington.
But their defense lawyers want them released on bail set Tuesday in New York by another judge, who set a $5 million bond for Lichtenstein and $3 million for Morgan.
One of their lawyers said Wednesday in a court filing that the couple is not a flight risk because they “previously froze several of [Morgan’s] embryos at a hospital in New York in anticipation of starting a family together, as she can only conceive through in vitro fertilization.”
“The couple would never flee from the country at the risk of losing access to their ability to have children, which they were discussing having this year until their lives were disrupted by their arrests in this case,” the lawyer wrote.