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Cops: At Gunpoint, Man Forced to Give Cryptocurrency Info

Authorities say $1.8M in cryptocurrency was then stolen
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2017 1:03 AM CST

(Newser) – With the value of cryptocurrencies soaring, authorities warn that people could be ripped off by sophisticated hackers—or by crooks using more old-fashioned methods. New Jersey authorities say Louis Meza, a 35-year-old cryptocurrency investor, lured a friend into a minivan, where a gunman demanded his keys, his phone, and the 24-word passphrase to open his cryptocurrency wallet, New York Daily News reports. Meza then allegedly went to the man's home, stole items including a ledger, and transferred $1.8 million in the crytocurrency Ether into his own account.

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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. says this type of crime can be expected to rise along with the value of currencies like bitcoin and Ether. "Hackers, data breaches, and fraud aren't the only threats to an individual’s wealth," Vance said in a statement Tuesday, per Bloomberg. "This case demonstrates the increasingly common intersection between cyber and violent crime." Meza, who faces up to 25 years in prison if found guilty of charges including robbery and kidnapping, pleaded not guilty in Manhattan Supreme Court Tuesday. (Last year, a Florida judge dismissed money-laundering charges because she decided bitcoin didn't count as money.)

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