The New York County District Attorney's Office

12/12/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/12/2017 14:43

DA VANCE: MAN INDICTED FOR STEALING $1.8 MILLION IN CRYPTOCURRENCY

Defendant Accused of Coordinating Armed Robbery and Kidnapping of Victim to Obtain Keys to Digital Wallet

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of LOUIS MEZA, 35, for participating in the kidnapping, armed robbery, and theft of more than $1.8 million in Ether, a cryptocurrency. The defendant is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Grand Larceny in the First Degree, Kidnapping in the Second Degree, Robbery in the First Degree, and Criminal Use of a Firearm in the First Degree, among other charges.[1]

'Hackers, data breaches, and fraud aren't the only threats to an individual's wealth,' said District Attorney 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.'

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, on the evening of November 4, 2017, MEZA arranged to meet an acquaintance known by MEZA to possess a digital wallet containing approximately $1.8 million in cryptocurrency at his apartment. After the meeting, MEZA insisted on ordering a car service for the victim, who entered a minivan after parting ways with MEZA. On the way to the victim's apartment, an unapprehended individual who had been hiding in the vehicle appeared suddenly and demanded that the victim turn over his cell phone, wallet, and keys while holding the victim at gunpoint. After a period of time, the victim was able to escape from the vehicle and call 911.

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.

Assistant District Attorneys James Vinocur and Jessica Peck are handling the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Glickman, Deputy Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Brenda Fischer, Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Sachs, Chief of the Investigation Division. Supervising Rackets Investigator Gregory Dunlavey, as well as Investigators William Burmeister, Antony DiCaprio, Peter Tran, Stephanie Luk, Thomas Piazza, Robert Barba, Jacob Peterson, Binguyeneza Fonseca-Sabune, Yohanna Pena, Brian Conway, and Patrick Ludlow, as well as High-Tech Analysis Unit Analyst Douglas Daus, and Senior Cybercrime Analyst Margaret Lovric provided additional assistance with the investigation.

District Attorney Vance also thanked the following agencies and individuals for their assistance with the investigation: the NYPD, and in particular, Police Officer Timothy Kraft of the 34th Precinct Detective Squad; the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office, and in particular, Detective Michael Boone and Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Kerrigan; the Passaic Police Department; and the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office, and in particular Sergeant Polly Hans, Detective Gabriel Diaz, and Assistant Prosecutor David Feldman.

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.

LOUIS MEZA, D.O.B. 9/17/1982
Passaic, NJ

Charged:

  • Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
  • Kidnapping in the Second Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
  • Robbery in the First Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
  • Criminal Use of a Firearm in the First Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
  • Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the First Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
  • Burglary in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
  • Computer Trespass, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Computer Tampering in the Third Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

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