The man behind a massive $1.8 million cryptocurrency heist is sentenced to 10 years after pleading guilty.
In the past, there was the oil boom, which followed the gold and land rush booms. The modern economic boom is cryptocurrency. The last couple of years has seen an amazing upwards trajectory in value, despite some faltering steps along the way. Ethereum once traded for a dollar back in January 2016 and is now selling for $226. Just like the Wild West, there are claim jumpers in the form of criminals willing to steal someone else’s claim, or in this case, their crypto wallet. Justice has prevailed for one victim recently as the man behind a $1.8 million virtual currency theft has just been sentenced to 10 years behind bars.
A Violent Cryptocurrency Robbery
The criminal in question is Louis Meza, aged 35. He is the architect of a robbery that could have ended badly if the victim had not taken action and escaped.
Meza is actually friends with the victim and knew that the victim had a large amount of Ether stored in his wallet back at his residence. Meza came up with a plan to rob his friend and recruited three others to help him: Allan Nunez, Darrell Colon, and Cesar Guzman.
Meza and the victim were together, and Meza offered to call an Uber to take the friend home. He pretended to do so, but the minivan that arrived was actually driven by Nunez, who posed as the Uber driver. Colon hid in the van and then pulled a gun on the victim when he entered the vehicle. (It appears that the gun was actually a BB gun.)
The criminals then put a hood over the victim’s head and held him for several hours. They forced him to hand over his home keys as well as the information needed to gain access to his cryptocurrency wallet. The criminals then broke into the victim’s house and stole the memory stick that contained his crypto. Unfortunately for the hoodlums, they were caught on surveillance video doing the crime. The victim managed to escape and run to a nearby grocery store where he called 911.
Plea Deal Struck
In the Manhattan Supreme Court, justice was finally handed down to Louis Meza. He agreed to a plea deal wherein he pled guilty to kidnapping and grand larceny in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence. He had been facing a possible sentence of up to 25 years. The actual sentencing will take place on September 27th, and it should be noted that the judge will be one actually determining the sentence.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. says:
Louis Meza orchestrated a 21st-century stick-up. Then 21st-century investigators brought him swiftly to justice, securing a landmark conviction in an undeveloped area of the law.
As for the other three defendants, they are still awaiting trial. Meza refused to testify against them. However, Louis Meza was also ordered to forfeit 269,000 SALT lending tokens (worth $116,562) and 84 bitcoins (now worth $536,209).
In the end, the two most important things to remember from this heist is that the victim got away safely and his cryptocurrency was recovered.
Do you think a 10-year prison sentence is the right call? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of the New York Post and Shutterstock.