Kidnap and armed robbery charges have been filed against a New York man in connection with the theft of $1.8 million worth of ether, the currency of the ethereum blockchain.
The New York County District Attorney’s Office filed a number of specific charges with the New York Supreme Court, in one of the first physical thefts of ether of this type or scale.
The prosecution alleges that Louis Meza arranged transport for the victim, a man whom he knew held substantial holdings in ether.
It is further alleged that Meza arranged for an as-yet-unnamed additional attacker to hide inside the hired vehicle, before holding the victim at gunpoint for his keys, smartphone and wallet. The men are then alleged to have taken the victim to his apartment, where the theft of the ether took place.
According to reports filed by the DA’s office, evidence reveals the existence of surveillance footage and transactional records which they believe support the veracity of the allegations.
“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.”
In addition to charges relating to the kidnap and robbery, there were also a number of other charges leveled at Meza, including computer trespass, computer tampering, and criminal possession of stolen property.
While this case is far from the first instance of cryptocurrency theft, it is unusual in that the crime was not committed virtually. The vast majority of digital currency thefts to date have been as a result of deliberate hack-based crimes, often stolen directly from user wallets.
According to New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance, crimes of this nature could well become more likely in the years to come, as the values of cryptocurrencies continue to soar to new highs.
“We can expect this type of crime to become increasingly common as cryptocurrency values surge upward.”