When Louis Meza met his victim at a Ruby Tuesdays in Times Square he thought his cryptocurrency ship had come in. Now he’s being sent up the river for the very real crime of kidnapping for Ethereum.
Cryptoloot Too Tempting For Idiot Criminal
The Ethereum spawned crime was first reported in December but the New York’s District Attorney’s office has recently released new information fully fleshing out the crime.
The victim, a business associate of Meza disclosed during dinner and drinks at the franchise restaurant that he had bought Ethereum in 2012–even though Ethereum launched in 2015 and did not exist in 2012–while it was selling for pennies. The cryptocurrency had soared in value since to over $1,000.
Meza insisted that his associate share his Uber car. Once the two were inside a gunman appeared demanding his apartment keys, phone and the 24 digit password to his Ledger Nano S, a device known as a hardware wallet used to securely store cryptocurrency offline.
Meza entered the victim’s apartment found his wallet and successfully transferred the Ethereum to his own account. He then transferred the Ethereum to a well known American cryptocurrency exchange where he transferred it to Bitcoin in his own name.
The would-be mastermind was not only recorded by security cameras in the victims building entering his apartment but was even overheard the next day bragging about having become a real player in the cryptocurrency market.
Had Meza actually known what he was doing he could have transferred the currency to his own cold wallet where it would be virtually untraceable instead of sending it to the cryptoworlds version of Citibank. The District Attorney’s office, known for its technical know-how, was easily able to track the trades back to Meza, arrest him, and seize the assets.
Cryptocurrency But Real Crimes
This case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing highlights the growing global trend of very real crimes being enacted to gain access to cryptocurrency.
in December, crooks in Ukraine kidnapped a bitcoin analyst and held him until he paid them $1 million worth of bitcoins. Even more recently a Russian couple was robbed of their crypto savings while on holiday in Thailand.
On a final twist in Mr. Meza’s story, the Etheruem he stole was valued at $308 at the time when he transferred it to Bitcoin which then shot up in value meaning the recovered funds are worth much more than what was stolen. The question is who gets the profits; the victim, the cops or the crook?