Business

Steve Kaaru

FBI seizes DeepDotWeb, believed to have made over 8,000 BTC

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has brought down DeepDotWeb, a site that contained resources on the dark web. While not a dark web marketplace itself, the site contained information about virtually every dark web marketplace, including the hidden URLs. Working with the U.S. attorney for Western Philadelphia Scott Brady, the bureau also arrested the two people who owned and operated the site.

“This site has been seized,” reads a notice on the site’s homepage at press time. The site is inaccessible beyond this notice.

The authorities also arrested 37-year-old Tal Prihar and 34-year-old Michael Phan, the two people charged with operating the site. The two, who are Israeli citizens, were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prihar was arrested while in Brazil, with Phan arrested in his home country in Israel, TechCrunch revealed.

According to the charges, the two made millions of dollars from their operations. The majority of this revenue came from referral links and affiliate marketing. Most of the marketplaces that DeepDotWeb directed its users to sold drugs, stolen data and weapons. The site made commissions from sales which ranged between 2% and 4% as revealed by a former staff at the site.

DeepDotWeb was quite popular, with authorities revealing that it directed close to 200,000 users to Hansa alone. Hansa was a popular dark web marketplace that was also seized. AlphaBay, yet another seized marketplace attributed 23% of its visitors to referrals from DeepDotWeb.

Altogether, Phan and Prihar allegedly made about 8,155 Bitcoin Core (BTC). At its peak, the BTC was worth more than $15 million, the police revealed. Almost half of this was made from commissions earned from AlphaBay.

Scott Brady, the district attorney in charge of the arrests, described the action as the “single most significant law enforcement disruption of the dark web to date.” Roman Sannikov shares the opinion, telling Fox News in an email that such sites provide an easy gateway into the criminal underworld.

Once again, cryptos were at the heart of the operation. Their ease of use and relative anonymity make them a darling of dark web marketplaces. In April, the Manhattan District Attorney indicted three individuals whom he accused of selling counterfeit drugs on the dark web, with revenues topping $2.3 million.

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