'Dutch' and 'Razzlekhan,': US couple behind record bitcoin haul
A picture of Heather Morgan, also known as "Razzlekhan," on a phone in front of the Bitcoin logo Olivier DOULIERY AFP

She's accused of laundering billions of dollars in stolen bitcoin with her husband, but her alleged crimes are likely to be overshadowed by an excruciating foray into rap music.

Heather Morgan, also known -– largely to herself –- as "raunchy rapper" Razzlekhan, was arrested along with her husband Ilya "Dutch" Lichtenstein in Manhattan on Tuesday.

The headline announced by the Justice Department was the couple's alleged involvement in laundering bitcoin stolen in a 2016 hack of the virtual currency exchange Bitfinex.

But public attention was swiftly diverted when it emerged that Morgan had another life as an aspiring rap star, and had put out a video that became an internet sensation for its sheer awfulness.

Dubbed "Bitcoin Bonnie and Crypto Clyde" by financial newsletter Morning Brew, Lichtenstein, 34, and Morgan, 31, are being held without bail until a hearing on Friday.

Details about Lichtenstein, a dual US-Russian national from Illinois, and Morgan, who is from California, have emerged since their arrest from their voluminous social media presence.

Morgan's cringeworthy rap videos in particular were burning up the internet before being taken offline.

On her website, Morgan calls herself "Razzlekhan" or the "Versace Bedouin" -- "the raunchy rapper with more pizzazz that Genghis Khan."

"I'm a real risk taker/pirate riding the flood/I'm a badass money maker," she raps in one video in which she refers to herself as the "Crocodile of Wall Street."

"Come real far but don't know where I'm headed/Blindly following rules is for fools," she says, gyrating on Wall Street wearing sunglasses, a leopard print scarf, and shiny gold jacket.

"Her art often resembles something in between an acid trip and a delightful nightmare," Morgan wrote about herself on her website, Razzlekhan.com. "Definitely not for the faint of heart or easily offended.

"Razz likes to push the limits of what people are comfortable with," she said. "Her style has often been described as 'sexy horror comedy.'"

When not making rap videos or posting pictures of her artwork or Bengal cat on Facebook, Morgan was a contributor to the financial publications Forbes and Inc.

A June 2020 article she wrote for Forbes was ironically titled: "Experts Share Tips To Protect Your Business From Cybercriminals."

'Living my ideal life'

According to Morgan's videos and Facebook postings, she grew up in California, the daughter of a biologist and a high school librarian.

She graduated from the University of California, Davis, and went to work as an economist after doing graduate work at the American University in Cairo.

Morgan said she eventually became a "serial software entrepreneur who started multiple successful companies" including one called SalesFolk.

More discreet online, Lichtenstein described himself on LinkedIn as a "technology entrepreneur, coder and investor" and the founder of several tech companies.

In a Facebook post, he recalled how he proposed to Morgan -- "my best friend and the woman of my dreams!"

It involved what Lichtenstein called a "weird, creative multi-channel marketing campaign" that saw posters of "Razzlekhan" plastered across New York City and her face on a Times Square billboard.

In one YouTube video, Morgan said her parents "didn't have a lot of money."

"I've also been totally broke and homeless multiple times," she said. "Money comes and goes. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don't.

"It's really nice when you have it but nothing in this life is certain," she said. "Right now I'm basically living my ideal life."

Lichtenstein and Morgan allegedly sought to launder the proceeds of 119,754 bitcoin -- presently valued at $4.5 billion -- stolen in the 2016 hack of Bitfinex.

The Justice Department said it had recovered 94,000 of the stolen bitcoin valued at over $3.6 billion at the time of the seizure.

The couple face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to launder money.

© 2022 AFP