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Man accused of stealing $500K in bitcoin appears in court, bail set

A man accused of stealing up to $500,000 in bitcoin from a novice cryptocurrency trader in Las Vegas is a Miami college student who researched the backgrounds of multimillionaires in Southern Nevada, then targeted one for the theft while assuming another’s identity to carry out the fraud, a prosecutor said in court early Wednesday.

“This is a very sophisticated, organized and thought out theft that we have here,” said Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jim Sweetin during an initial appearance in Las Vegas Justice Court Wednesday morning for Filippos Liakounakos, 23.

Liakounakos was booked at the Clark County Detention Center on Monday on charges of theft more than $100,000, using another person’s identity to cause a financial loss and unlawful felony act involving electronic mail or transmission of computer data.

Las Vegas police secured a warrant for the arrest of Liakounakos in February after a detective said the victim in the case, whose name has not been released, reported the theft in November 2020. The man said he was approached by a business associate he knew on the encrypted mobile chat app Telegram, and that the two agreed to a bitcoin transaction. Police said after the man sent the business associate $500,000 in bitcoin, he learned that the person he sent the money to was actually an imposter.

Police identified Liakounakos as the suspect in the case by serving a series of electronic warrants.

Defense attorney Josh Tomsheck said in court Wednesday that Liakounakos has no criminal history and strong family support. Liakounakos identified himself as a college student who is on the verge of graduating from a Miami-area university.

Sweetin asked for Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Suzan Baucum to set bail at $250,000, noting police are still investigating Liakounakos could be involved in any similar transactions.

“There is probably a lot of money floating around here,” Sweetin said. “The defendant is charged with very serious crimes…he has a great motivation to flee and the state would submit he has the demonstrated ability to assume other identities.”

Baucum set two scenarios in which Liakounakos could feasibly post bail. One was a $100,000 bail with high-level electronic monitoring and the requirement he remain in the Las Vegas community while charges are pending. The second was a $250,000 bail.

“What concerns me is the absolute lack of ties to this community,” Baucum said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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