A 35-year-old man has been indicted for orchestrating a kidnapping, armed robbery, and the theft of more than $1.8 million in ether.
Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced earlier this week that he had indicted Louis Meza in a New York State Supreme Court after he was accused of coordinating an armed robbery and the kidnapping of a victim in order to obtain the keys to a digital wallet.
In a statement, district attorney Vance said:
This case demonstrates the increasingly common intersection between cyber and violent crime—the defendant is charged with coordinating an elaborate kidnapping, armed robbery, and burglary to gain access to the victim’s digital wallet and the significant funds it contained. We can expect this type of crime to become increasingly common as cryptocurrency values surge upward.
According to court documents, on the 4th November, Meza is alleged to have arranged to have met with the victim who Meza knew was in possession of a digital wallet that contained $1.8 million in ether. After their meeting, Meza then ordered a car to pick up the victim who got into a minivan, parting ways with the suspect. However, unknown to the victim was an individual who had been hiding in the van. After revealing themselves, the person then proceeded to demand that the victim hand over their cell phone, wallet, and keys while holding them at gun point. When the victim was able to safely escape they managed to call 911.
Video evidence later showed Meza entering the victim’s apartment before leaving with a box alleged to have contained the victim’s digital wallet. Further evidence found that the digital wallet contained over $1.8 million in ether, which Meza transferred to his own personal account.
Unfortunately, as the cryptocurrency market continues to rise in value, so too will the number of crime-related incidents involving it. This case comes at a time when bitcoin has seen its value soaring in value over recent months, reaching as high as more than $17,000 in December. This was due to an increase in trading interest and the launch of Cboe’s bitcoin futures contract on Sunday, with trading having completed its first day on Monday. The CME Group is due to launch their bitcoin derivatives product on Monday. Yet, with bitcoin further cementing itself into the mainstream, hackers, data breaches, and fraudsters will continue to target people for their digital currency holdings.