Some friend he was.
A man has taken 35-year old Louis Meza to court alleging that the latter lured him into a minivan where another man held him at gunpoint, coercing him to cough up the private keys to his Ether wallet. Meza allegedly also ransacked the victim’s apartment, where he ran off with a box believed to contain a ledger with the victim’s money as seen in surveillance footage from the victim’s apartment building. The victim’s funds, worth over $1.8 million, were traced and found in Meza’s personal account the next day.
“Video surveillance later obtained from the victim’s apartment building showed MEZA using the set of keys stolen from the victim to enter the victim’s apartment and then leave the apartment holding a box believed to contain the victim’s digital wallet. Additional records reveal that soon after obtaining the victim’s digital wallet, the defendant then transferred approximately $1.8 million in Ether to his own personal account,” the report said.
According to the lawsuit, Meza invited the unnamed victim to his apartment on November 4th and later called what the victim thought was a car service to take him back home. Instead, a gunman waited inside the minivan and forced the victim to divulge information about his cryptocurrency wallets, and to hand over his house keys and cellphone.
Fortunately, the victim managed to escape the minivan and call 911. The gunman has not been caught but Meza is now in custody and will be facing a string of charges including: grand larceny in the first degree, kidnapping in the second degree, robbery in the first degree, criminal use of a firearm in the first degree, computer trespass.
While most cryptocurrency criminals choose to stick to online modus operandi, old school criminal schemes targeting cryptocurrency holders can become rampant due to the large amounts of money involved.
“Hackers, data breaches, and fraud aren’t the only threats to an individual’s wealth,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. “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.”
Last month, a Turkish gang has been arrested after targeting BTC millionaires, kidnapping and extorting them of their tokens. According to the report, the targets were singled out after posting their luxurious lifestyles on social media.