A DeepDotWeb admin has been sentenced to prison for over 8 years. The Israeli national has plead guilty to a number of charges related to the operation of the popular dark-net news site. Despite DeepDotWeb not having a direct connection with illicit dark-net operations, authorities still managed to take down the site.
DeepDotWeb was a really popular dark-net directory and news site that launched in 2013. The site always contained the latest news related to the dark-net, and most of the links to illicit websites. At its peak, the site was used by anyone that wanted to access an illicit site on the dark-net. DeepDotWeb was really trusted amongst the dark-net community, and praised by many for its harm reduction.
The End of an Era
In May of 2019, a large scale law enforcement operation manage to seize and take down the site. Agencies from all over the world were involved, including the FBI, Europol, German and even Israeli authorities. The main owner of the site, an Israeli nationals was arrested in Brazil and sent to the US for trial.
Not being directly involved with dark-net markets, many questioned the take-down of the site. Despite this the police had a handful of reasons, the main one being affiliated-marketing. As it turns out, DeepDotWeb was receiving kickbacks from any purchases made on market accessed through their links. The news site also had paid advertisement spots mostly used by markets. Authorities alleged that the admins have received over 8,000 bitcoins via this scheme. Because of this an additional money laundering charge was presented.
37 year old Tal Prihar is the main owner of the site, which he run along-side with Michael Phan, a 34 year old administrator. The main defendant, Tal, has been going through the US justice system for over 2 years now. The main charge brought up against him is 'conspiracy to commit money laundering'. Last year he plead guilty to the money laundering charge.
A press release made by the Department of Justice made some revelations on their money laundering scheme. According to report, they first transferred bitcoins from one wallet to another. The coins were later sent to banks belonging to shell companies. After Tal's arrest, he agreed to forfeit $8,414,173 USD.
On the 25th of January, the sentencing of the main defendant took place. He was sentenced to 97 month in prison, mainly for the money laundering charges. His partner Michael has yet to be trialed as he is still going through the extradition process in Israel.
The take-down of DeepDotWeb and the arrest of its admins was the first law-enforcement operation of its kind. Before this, law enforcement agencies were known for targeting dark-web markets. This changed as DeepDotWeb is just an onion directory/news site. Many believe this was done to set an example for other onion directories, not to received kick-backs from illicit activity.