Meza had allegedly arranged to meet an individual who possessed a digital wallet containing approximately $1.8 million in cryptocurrency.
Once the meeting took place, Meza allegedly urged the victim t0 order a car service. The victim then entered a minivan, leaving Meza at the venue of the meeting. However, unbeknownst to the victim, an individual had been hiding in the vehicle.
On the way to the victim’s apartment, that individual made his appearance known by holding the victim at gunpoint. He then demanded that the victim turn over his belongings (his cell phone, wallet, and keys).
After some time had passed, the victim was able to escape and call the police.
Meza’s further connection to the situation
Meza used the set of keys that were stolen from the victim to enter the victim’s apartment, an incident that was confirmed through evidence later obtained in the form of video surveillance from the victim’s apartment building.
The video footage showed Meza entering the apartment, and then leave the apartment holding a box believed to have contained the victim’s digital wallet.
Not long after obtaining the victim’s digital wallet, Meza transferred approximately $1.8 million in Ether to his own personal account, further records reveal.
Intersection between cyber and violent crime
Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., who is leading the case against Meza, had a clear stance on the case itself, and further suggested that this case “demonstrates the increasingly common intersection between cyber and violent crime.”
DA Vance further added,
“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.” DA Vance mentioned in his statement.
“We can expect this type of crime to become increasingly common as cryptocurrency values surge upward.”
Cryptocurrency holders need to be extremely careful
Since Ether, Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies have been increasing to unprecedented levels of value as of late, it is only prudent for the owners of these digital assets to go to further lengths in order to protect their devices and digital wallets, especially in light of DA Vance’s comments about how these instances could increase over time.
If you hold a significant amount of value in terms of a few Ethers or Bitcoins, think of it as having a bag full of cash that cannot be left unattended. Additional protections and encryptions that require the devices to be unlocked or decrypted before use could seem like a hassle, but it’s worth the inconvenience. While no one can protect themselves from an unprecedented situation like the one explained above, being vigilant and protective of assets goes a long way.
Meza now faces multiple charges in this case
Meza was charged with the following:
- 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
- Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the First Degree
- Burglary in the Second Degree
- Computer Trespass
- Computer Tampering in the Third Degree
However, it should be noted that the charges specified 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. Incidents reported in this piece are based on the official statement released by the DA’s office.