The news of one of the biggest money laundering schemes in history captivated the world on Tuesday, not so much because of the crime — which involved $US4.5 ($6) billion in bitcoin and is, yeah, a big deal — but rather because of the couple accused of carrying it out. They are the weirdo Bonnie and Clyde of the crypto world, and Netflix wants you to know all about them and their alleged plot.
It took only three days for the streaming giant to commission a documentary series on Ilya “Dutch” Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan, who were arrested this week for a purported conspiracy to launder 119,754 bitcoin linked to the 2016 hack of Bitfinex, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges.
Given how obsessed Hollywood seem to be with stories about failures, fraud, and bad behaviour in the tech world lately, the story’s appeal was obvious. In addition, how often do you meet a (bad) rapper — Morgan, whose stage name is “Razzlekhan” — who throws down about everything from the coronavirus to AirPods?
“Netflix has ordered a documentary series about a married couple’s alleged scheme to launder billions of dollars worth of stolen cryptocurrency in the biggest criminal financial crime case in history,” the company said in a news announcement on Friday.
The docuseries will be directed by Chris Smith, who has experience in real stories about failure and fraud. He directed FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, a Netflix documentary about the disastrous FYRE festival that scammed investors and left hundreds of attendees stranded on an island. In addition, Smith was the executive producer of the TV series documentary Tiger King.
In its announcement, Netflix drummed up the drama around Lichtenstein and Morgan’s alleged wrongdoing.
“As the value of the stolen Bitcoin soared from $US71 ($99) million at the time of the hack to nearly $US5 ($7) 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,” the company said.
Netflix did not reveal a release date for the documentary series.