DeepDotWeb admin pleads guilty to money laundering conspiracy

Pierluigi Paganini April 01, 2021

One of the administrators for the DeepDotWeb dark web portal pleads guilty to receiving kickbacks from the operators of the marketplaces.

One of the administrators for the DeepDotWeb dark web portal, Tal Prihar (37), pleads guilty to receiving kickbacks from the operators of the marketplaces for the sale of illegals products.

Tal Prihar is a 37-year-old Israeli citizen living in Brazil who operated the DeepDotWeb portal with the co-owner Michael Phan.

In May 2019, the Police seized the DeepDotWeb website and arrested its operators for their business in facilitating the access to darkweb marketplaces and vendors.

The site was seized and the arrests were made as part of an international operation involving the FBI, Europol, and Federal law enforcement agencies from Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, and Brazil.

Police seized the DeepDotWeb website and arrested its operators accused of have made millions of dollars in affiliate commissions generated by referring traffic to darkweb marketplaces and vendors.

Arrests were made in Israel, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

DeepDotWeb web site included news on Dark Web and the real-time updated listing of black marketplaces and illegal shops running on the Tor anonymizing network.  For each website, DeepDotWeb offered statistics on the uptime and notes on its history, along with the links to reach the hidden services and associated forums.

It was very easy to search for black marketplaces selling drugs, malware, stolen credit card data, stolen personal data, and other illegal services.

DeepDotWeb seized

The portal connected internet users with Darknet marketplaces where sellers were offering any kind of illegal products, including malware, firearms, hacking tools, stolen financial data, and narcotic substances.

“For providing these links, Prihar and Phan received kickback payments from the marketplaces in the form of virtual currency, including approximately 8,155 bitcoins (worth approximately $8.4 million based on the bitcoin trading value at the time of the transactions).” reads the press release published by the DoJ. “To conceal the nature and source of these illegal kickback payments, Prihar transferred the payments from his DDW bitcoin wallet to other bitcoin accounts and to bank accounts he controlled in the names of shell companies. DDW was seized by federal authorities in April 2019, and Prihar has agreed to forfeit $8,414,173.”

Now the DoJ revealed that the dark web portal allowed Phan and Prihar to earn themselves over $8 million. Then Prihar laundered the funds through other cryptocurrency wallets and bank accounts that were registered in the name of shell companies. 

“Tal Prihar served as a broker for illegal Darknet marketplaces — helping such marketplaces find customers for fentanyl, firearms, and other dangerous contraband — and profited from the illegal business that ensued,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This prosecution, seizure of the broker website, and forfeiture send a clear message that we are not only prosecuting the administrators of Darknet marketplaces offering illegal goods and services, but we will also bring to justice those that aim to facilitate and profit from them.” 

Prihar pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and he will be sentenced on August 2nd, the man faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The man also agreed to forfeit $8,414,173.  

Law enforcement agencies worldwide are intensifying their operations in coordinated investigation that lead to the arrest of several criminals. In September 2020, a coordinated operation conducted by law enforcement agencies across the world, dubbed Operation DisrupTor, targeted vendors and buyers of illicit goods on the dark web.

The operation, led by the German federal criminal police, saw the participation of law agencies from Austria, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States.

This operation follows the takedown in May 2020 of last year of Wall Street Market that took place in May 2019. The Wall Street Market marketplace was considered one of the most important points of aggregation in the cybercrime underground for trading in cocaine, heroin, cannabis and amphetamines as well as digital goods (i.e. stolen data, malware, and fake documents). The Tor-based marketplace had more than one million registered accounts, more than 5,000 registered sellers and more than 60,000 sales offers.

Operation DisrupTor resulted in the arrest of 179 vendors who engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit good were arrested across Europe and the United States. 

If you want to receive the weekly Security Affairs Newsletter for free subscribe here.

Follow me on Twitter: @securityaffairs and Facebook

[adrotate banner=”9″][adrotate banner=”12″]

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Dark Web)

[adrotate banner=”5″]

[adrotate banner=”13″]

you might also like

leave a comment