DeepDotWeb is a dark-net news site. It was created to report any news related to the dark-net. This included dark-net markets, crimes, and more. The site covered dark-net market busts, pedophile crowdfunding, and more cyber-crimes. DeepDotWeb also acted as an onion directory listing all the popular markets at the time. For a while, DeepDotWeb was the go to place for people looking to find onion links.
What happened to DeepDotWeb?
The new website got seized on May 7 2019, due to money laundering. Tal Prihar is an Israeli national and the executive operator of the DeepDotWeb (DDW). The modern dark-net directory connected hundreds of internet users to darknet marketplaces. Almost anything can be found on such markets including illegal substances, stolen data, and even weapons. The Israeli citizen who resides in Brazil claimed guilt for his role in operating DeepDotWeb (DDW).
Court documents show that though Tal Prihar owns DeepDotWeb (DDW), he operated the website with his Michael Phan, a 34 year old citizen of Israel. They developed the website together, and worked on it till 2019, the year he was arrested.
He claimed that he was responsible for laundering a total sum of $8.4 million worth of cryptocurrency. The laundered money was earned through illegal dark-net market referral links.
The suspects were earning kickbacks for every account registered using their referral links. More kickbacks were also earned every time an account registered with their referral made a purchase. In addition to the links they provided their guests, they also made available general information and news about the Darknet. Prihar, along with his co-suspect made a lot of millions through the dark-net. Being the largest onion directory, millions of dark-net buyers have used their links. Any kickbacks were paid off using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. In total, DDW accumulated roughly $8.4 Million USD. This is back when bitcoin was approximately $8,000 USD.
To hide the origin of these illegal payments, Prihar relocated the payments from his main bitcoin wallet to a different one. He also moved money to different bank accounts that he owned using a shell company's identities. The United States federal authorities have reportedly seized his main Bitcoin wallet back in April of 2019. Prihar agreed with the confiscation of the $8,414,173.
Reportedly, Tal Prihar offered a broker service for fraudulent Darknet marketplaces. DDW helped fraudulent marketplaces find customers to purchase illicit items making large profits.
Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman for the Western District of Pennsylvania revealed information on the case. It was revealed that the offender Tal Prihar has admitted to the authoritative role he and his co-offender played. He also admitted that the website served as an entrance to several dark web platforms selling harmful and illegal products. Mr. Prihar and his co-conspirator extracted a fee from every user that visits these unlawful sites, acquiring profits in the millions of dollars.
The Acting Special Agent in Charge, Carlton Peoples also revealed some information. He mentioned that DeepDotWeb served as an entrance to facilitate the illegal trading of items for six years. Prihar profited as a derivative from other people's harmful transactions. His guilty claim passes a message to other cyber actors across the globe who think the dark web is a safe asylum. The FBI agents work with the local, state, federal, and other international agencies to disorganize illicit websites and bring justice to individuals responsible for them.
DeepDotWeb Founder Might Have to Live 20 Years in Prison
Due to his guilty claim of committing money laundering, Prihar is scheduled for a prison sentence on August 2nd. He is facing a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine the deserved penalty. This will be done following the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other law requirements.
The justice department acknowledged the support of their international partners like the French authorities and its law enforcement associates at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Brazilian Federal Police Cyber Division, IRS, Dutch National Police, Israeli National Police, Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany, Europol Darkweb Team, and National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom for their commitment towards the disorganization of the dark web activities. Also, assistance was made available by the Justice Department's Office of International Affairs.
The primary trial was brought in cooperation with the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) Team.
The team was developed within the FBI's Hi-Tech Organized Crime Unit in the United States. The Government agency made it known in January 2018 that it has a plan to track drug trafficking, especially cocaine and other illegal activities on the Darknet.
The J-CODE team works with other agents like data analysts and specialists staff who are experts in harmful drugs, gangs, health care fraud, and more. J-CODE body, including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, Department of Defense, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and Department of Justice, have their eyes on throwing into disorder the trading of drugs through the Darknet and disorganizing fraudulent venture that makes easy this trafficking.
Also, Prihars' trial was done by an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) interrogations. OCDETF points out disorders and deconstructs top-level drug traffickers, fund launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal establishments that pressurize communities throughout the United States. OCDETF employs the service of prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency methods that force the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against fraudulent networks.
Prihar was arraigned for money laundering under 18 U.S. Code § 1956 - laundering of monetary instruments. The offense attracts a prison sentence that is close to twenty years and a financial punishment of money that is more than the laundered accumulations' value. A prison sentence is inevitable. Prihar has agreed to release the $8.4 million in his possession and the DeepDotWeb domain name as part of the entreaty pledge.
Prihar's arrest was carried out at an international airport in France while anticipating a flight between Israel and Brazil. And for Phan, he was arrested in his homeland Israel.
While Prihar’s sentence is scheduled for August 2, which may bring upon the offender the condition of facing a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, his co-offender Michael Phan still awaits his trial and is being held in U.S. custody.