Somebody deserves an Oscar for special effects.

A crafty trio of black robbers bought amazingly lifelike disguises from a Hollywood special-effects firm to transform themselves into white guys for a brazen Queens heist—and their get-ups were so good, their victims had no clue they were in masks.

The Brooklyn federal court trial of Akeem Monsalvatge, Derrick Dunkley and Edward Byam opened yesterday with witnesses describing how they were completely fooled.

The perps spent two painstaking months plotting their $200,000 stickup of a Queens check-cashing store last year—and theorized that switching races would help them avoid detection, authorities said.

So the crew turned to well-known special-effects company CFX Composite Effects—which has worked on flicks including “2 Guns” and “Wolverine’’—for their disguises, prosecutors said.

The men allegedly told company reps they needed the masks for a music video, and plunked down $2,000 for three masks.

The accused crooks were apparently inspired by the 2010 Ben Affleck flick “The Town.”

As in the movie, in addition to donning masks, the robbers dressed as cops, doused the crime scene with bleach to destroy DNA traces, and provided evidence to a victim to prove they knew where she lived in case she squealed.


Intending to appear as white cops, the Queens perps wore the NYPD clothing and badges as they pulled up to a Pay-O-Matic in Queens in February 2012 in a Ford Explorer, Cruz-Melendez said.


The major break in the case came after police discovered an e-mail from Byam to CFX offering a hearty endorsement after the robbery, according to police.

“I’m sending you this message to say I’m extremely pleased by CFX work on the mask,” he allegedly wrote.

“The realism of the mask is unbelievable.”

Meanwhile, the crooks began blowing their $200,000 windfall on pricey Gucci and Louis Vuitton threads, authorities said. One member of the crew even forked over $11,000 for Rolex watch.


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  • [Guest]

    Well, at least in this case news sources mentioned the race of the criminals.

  • bigone4u

    The robbers got the white look through makeup, but they didn’t get the brain transplant from a white guy they would need to pull off a successful robbery. Thus, they ended up in the clink. Looking white and being white are two different things.

    • DiversityIsDeath


    • Tim_in_Indiana

      Let’s not underestimate black resourcefulness when it comes to committing crimes. Now I’m hoping the automakers can invent an antitheft system that will thwart car thieves, a goodly number of whom must surely be black.

      • Wire in a separate ignition-cut-out switch and hide it somewhere under the dashboard or driver’s seat.

      • cancerous bananna

        Transponder keys are really tough to crack unless someone has enough foresight to program a blank key.. and for that, someone would have to kave access to your master key.

    • me

      Well, when they started speaking, the ebonics gave them away…
      “Hey, mutha…., puts dat monies in da sack afore I blows yo damn fool Cracker head off! Mutha….!”

  • Rhialto

    Posing as White is no big deal, but posing as cops goes over the line as far as law enforcement is concerned. Their capture and conviction became a top priority.

    • jane johnson

      They never got the faux cops in the St. Valentines Day massacre, and they weren’t wearing masks. But then again, Capone owned most of the REAL Chicago cops in those days.

    • Posing as cops is actually the funny part to this one. Props for creativity!

  • willbest

    I am trying to determine which was the dumber mistake. Blowing money that could set you up for a decade in a weekend, or thanking your unwitting accomplice thereby tipping the police off.

    • Sick of it

      Or plotting such a small time caper for 2 months…then getting caught.

    • The three of them could have used the $200K to start up a legitimate business and lived quite well for more than a decade that way. For instance, buildup for a kit car from Factory Five Racing would cost about $35,000 using a good 351 Cleveland engine and a Tremec 6-speed transmission. A fellow with a two-car garage could turn out several a year.

  • Spartacus

    “Meanwhile, the crooks began blowing their $200,000 windfall on pricey
    Gucci and Louis Vuitton threads, authorities said. One member of the
    crew even forked over $11,000 for Rolex watch.”


    Unbelievable… Some dark-skins finally PLAN a crime, but they don’t bother laying low afterwards… TNB .

    • Major

      Bling bling and poontang are their priorities…..ask Jesse Jerkson Jr.

  • Luca

    So they got the idea from a movie. I didn’t think they could come up with an original idea on their own.

    They knew how to imitate an idea, but didn’t even have the brains to control their bragging or their spending. Is this typical or what?

    • Skip Wellington

      The large purchase of chicken wings, ranch dressing & grape drank was a dead give-away.

      Foiled by profiling again!
      When will the racism stop?

  • Defiant White

    QUOTE #1: “I’m sending you this message to say I’m extremely pleased by CFX work on the mask,” he allegedly wrote.


    QUOTE #2: Meanwhile, the crooks began blowing their $200,000 windfall on pricey Gucci and Louis Vuitton threads, authorities said. One member of the crew even forked over $11,000 for Rolex watch.

    Cunning? Sure. Like any rat. True brains and strategic thinking? Naah. That’s a white thing.

    But it’s the BLING that gets them every time.

    • White Mom in WDC

      So true. Blacks don’t know not to flash the cash.

  • Jack Burton

    Apparently they didn’t watch Goodfellas, when De Niro was so emphatically against making big purchases after their heist.

    • Nathanwartooth

      “emphatically against” is one way to put it.

      Another would be that he murdered anyone who spent money, lol.

      • jane johnson

        That’s what he said! Love that movie.

  • Only $66 each doesn’t seem like a very good payoff. Armed bank robbery carries some heavy fed time, and threatening a witness will probably get them sent to a max (FCI), probably with communication restrictions. Getting a regular job would seem a bit less trouble.

    • Fair Dingum

      But getting a regular job wouldn’t pump yer ‘nads nearly as much. You have to remember that guys like this think like juvenile delinquents, not rational adults.

  • Romulus

    This will be on worlds dumbest criminals next week. Lol, what a bunch of morons. Hey, you know what, “I gotsa away wit it, so nows,ima gunna go rite an email and thank ’em fo’ dey produc, ya mean” hahahaha, classic!!!

  • din_do_nuffins

    This is a “White privilege is a crime” metaphor.

  • White Mom in WDC

    You have to know not to ‘flash the cash’. Oh, that’s a ‘white thing’ which explains why these ‘bros got caught.

    Wonder if they painted their purple penises white? Ha ha ha

    • me

      Ugh! No more penis references, hokay? BTW, they’d have been better off trying to lose the ebonics…..

  • Alexandra1973

    I’m reminded of what Captain Kirk said in the episode “Mirror, Mirror”–

    It’s easier for a civilized man to pretend to be a barbarian, than it is for a barbarian to pretend to be a civilized man.

    Something along that line.

    That was the one where Spock had the goatee….

    • Some Guy

      That episode also had this golden nugget.
      “Terror must be maintained or the Empire is doomed.”

  • LudwigvonDrake

    They had at least $2K invested in the heist plus the cost of the uniforms. That’s a net gain of about $85K per thief. One guy then spends 15% of his cut on a Rolex watch, leaving him with AT MOST $74K in hand (sporting a nice watch).

    This level of intelligence at putting capital to work explains why Detroit went from being the Paris of the West to Mogadishu West in half a normal lifespan.

  • blindsticks

    Would make a good film – or TV drama – for one of the weekly cop shows out there in the US. But only once they reverse the scenario – that is a group of goon racist whites black up to blame the robberies on the poor blacks. And of course the genius police detective must be played by Idris Elba or Lawrence Fishburne or similar.

  • MBlanc46

    Leave it to a black criminal to boast about his crime in an e-mail.

    • Alexandra1973

      And they wonder why blacks are arrested at a higher rate than whites. Even IF (and it’s a big IF) the races committed crimes at the same rate…blacks aren’t careful to conceal their crimes, they post it on some social networking site.
      Which tells you right there, there’s a difference between the races.

  • me

    That’s why the ‘bruthas’ want to stop ‘racial profiling’, including that racist in the White House…..

  • me

    Exactly! They can’t kiss black posterior enough….and I mean French kiss.

  • me

    Cue “Layla” by Derek and the Dominoes…..


    They fall asleep in the getaway car.

  • Herman

    Actually as crimes by black people go this was pretty sophisticated.
    Their crimes are usually petty and violent.

  • Monty Ehrich

    Nobody’s perfect.