$1.8 Million Crypto Heist Mastermind Admits Guilt, Declines to Snitch

A New Jersey male has admitted stealing cryptocurrency worth almost two million dollars using the old-fashioned way – kidnapping and issuing threats of violence.

In the Manhattan Supreme Court, Louis Meza confessed to kidnapping an unnamed friend and then stealing his Ether cryptocurrency holdings worth US$1.8 million. Specifically, Meza admitted second-degree kidnapping and first-degree grand larceny. Meza’s sentencing is scheduled at the end of this month and the 35-year-old man is expected to receive a jail time of 10 years as well as half a decade of post-release supervision.

According to the New York Post, Meza’s new-age heist met its match in the form of New Jersey’s investigators.

“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,” Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, said in a statement.

The Three Amigos

As previously reported by CCN, Meza conducted the crypto-heist with the assistance of three co-defendants – Darrel ‘Bishop’ Colon, Allen ‘Joke’ Nunez and Cesar ‘Fuego’ Guzman. After Meza learnt of his friend’s vast cryptocurrency holdings he hired the three to assist him in kidnapping the crypto millionaire.

According to prosecutors, Meza held a meeting with the crypto millionaire on November 4 last year in Times Square before he insisted that his old friend take an Uber back to his home in Manhattan. Conveniently, the crypto millionaire was directed to a waiting minivan being driven by Joke. Bishop, meanwhile, was hiding in the back seat.

‘Your Password or Your Life’

As the vehicle approached Uptown Manhattan Bishop pounced and using a BB gun, demanded that the crypto millionaire hand over his valuables including his house keys and the password to his cryptocurrency wallet. These were then given to Meza and Fuego.

Moments later, per evidence obtained from video surveillance cameras, Meza gained entry into crypto millionaire’s apartment and stole a box which allegedly contained the hardware cryptocurrency wallet with the Ether holdings. Meza then transferred the digital assets worth more than US$1.8 million at the time to his wallet. The crypto millionaire was eventually able to escape and report the incident to the police.

Under the plea agreement that Meza inked with prosecutors, Meza will not only serve time in jail but he will also forfeit 84 bitcoins and 269,000 SALT lending tokens. However, Meza declined to cooperate against his co-accused in the plea agreement. Fuego, Joke and Bishop were indicted in June this year and their case is still ongoing.


Source
Author: Mark Emem
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Crypto-Backed Loan Provider SALT Expands to 35 US States

Cryptocurrency-backed loan provider SALT Lending announced it has expanded into 20 new U.S. states on Wednesday.

LIONBIT

The firm, which allows users to borrow cash against their cryptocurrency holdings, is now available in 35 states, including Washington D.C.

Also revealed today is a new tech platform for SALT clients, which the firm says includes updated tools for borrowing funds and faster transactions, as well as a new member loyalty program.

The firm’s chief executive, Bill Sinclair, who took up his post last month, told CoinDesk that the process of expanding to new states is complicated, and that the company’s legal team has been working with regulatory experts to ensure that the loans it provides fall within each state’s individual laws.

“SALT loans are and will be structured within the laws, regulations, and guidelines provided by each jurisdiction in which the loan is offered,” he said.

As such, the platform is newly available to residents of Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, Maryland, Michigan, Wisconsin and Maine, among others.

The company is currently moving its current users to the new platform, Sinclair said, adding that, for the rebuild, “we started with some key community leaders and worked their feedback into the nuances of our technology.”

TIP

“The first borrowers to get loans in the new system were those who previously applied in areas in which we were not approved to lend and were still interested in a SALT loan,” he said.

To further attract new members and retain existing clients, the startup today also unveiled a new member loyalty program. Called Proof of Access, the scheme lets customers modify their loan conditions using the firm’s own token (also called SALT), according to Sinclair

New clients become members by depositing at least one SALT token onto the company’s platform, and can then stake their tokens to adjust their loan interest rates.

Sinclair said the firm plans to continue developing its platform, and in the future plans to introduce micro-loans and qualified custody products, alongside international expansion.

SALT will also be looking at adding new blockchain tokens to be used as collateral, he said, explaining:

“As blockchain assets continue to grow in abundance and popularity, technology will need to pivot accordingly. … Opening doors for our potential borrowers who may have selected different investments than bitcoin and ethereum will be a key differentiator for SALT in the future.”


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Author: Nikhilesh De 
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