Tal Prihar, the former operator of dark web index site DeepDotWeb, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for money laundering
Tal Prihar, the former operator of dark web index site DeepDotWeb, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for money laundering on Tuesday.
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From 2013, Prihar (37) and co-defendant Michael Phan (34) owned and operated the DeepDotWeb (DDW), a news site which also connected internet users with darknet marketplaces where they could buy illegal malware, firearms, stolen financial data, hacking tools, fentanyl, heroin and other illicit materials. Both Prihar and Phan are Israeli citizens.
For linking users with the illegal darknet marketplaces, Prihar and Phan are said to have received about $8.4 million in Bitcoin kickbacks. To hide the sources of these payments, Prihar converted them to fiat currency and laundered it through other Bitcoin and bank accounts he controlled in the name of shell companies.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in coordination with police in Israel, Brazil, France, Germany and the Netherlands, seized the DeepDotWeb domain in May 2019, The Verge reported. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office.
Prihar, who was arrested from Brazil, pleaded guilty in March 2021, while Phan remains in Israel and is currently undergoing extradition proceedings, the US department of justice said.
A judge of the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania rolled out the sentence to Prihar, ordering him to forfeit $8.4 million in cash, his ASUS laptop, iPhone, and accounts at various cryptocurrency exchanges such as Kraken, Binance and OKCoin. Prihar has already agreed to forfeit the amount.
With the sentence, the US court is likely to set a precedence that not just darknet operators but those facilitating access to such marketplaces are liable to face the law. If any website brokers access to users to contraband and receives payment for it, they are likely to come under the FBI’s radar.