DeepDotWeb operator sentenced to eight years behind bars

The platform provided links to Dark Web marketplaces.

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Screenshot via ZDNet

The operator of the DeepDotWeb platform has been sentenced to just over eight years in prison. 

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This week, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said that Tal Prihar's sentence, 97 months, was based on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, of which Prihar pleaded guilty to in March last year. 

Owned by Prihar and co-defendant Michael Phan, DeepDotWeb (DDW) started operating in 2013 and provided a platform for Dark Web news and links to marketplaces, redirecting visitors to their .onion addresses -- websites which are not available through standard search engines in the clear web. 

The website was seized by law enforcement in 2019. 

According to US prosecutors, both defendants earned substantial profits by advertising these links through kickbacks provided by the underground marketplaces. Goods and services on offer included hacking tools, firearms, drugs, and stolen data collections.  

Prihar and Phan received 8,155 in Bitcoin (BTC) -- worth roughly $8.4 million at the time they were paid, although worth substantially more nowadays – and these funds were then shifted around cryptocurrency wallets and traditional bank accounts held under the names of fake shell companies. 

In April 2021, Prihar pleaded guilty to his role in DDW and agreed to forfeit $8,414,173. 

His co-conspirator is currently in Israel and extradition proceedings are underway.  

The investigation into DDW involved the FBI's Pittsburgh Field Office, French authorities, Europol, the IRS, German law enforcement,  the Israeli National Police, and the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA), among other organizations. 

In other Dark Web news this week, law enforcement seized and shut down Canadian HeadQuarters, a large marketplace that facilitated the purchase and sale of spam services, phishing kits, stolen credential data dumps, and access controls to compromised machines. Four individuals allegedly linked to the marketplace have also been fined. 

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