- One of the owners and main operators of the DeepDotWeb platform has pleaded guilty to money laundering.
- The man had already agreed to forfeit all the money he made through illegal activities since last year.
- DeepDotWeb was a place to learn about illegal marketplaces and not an actual place to buy stuff.
Tal Prihar, 37, has pleaded guilty for his administrative role in the dark web platform known as DeepDotWeb, which was seized by an operation coordinated by the Europol and FBI back in May 2019. The Israeli national living in Brazil has admitted to being the owner of the marketplace, along with Michael Phan, 34, who is also an Israeli national. The two have helped other users locate and purchase illegal firearms, malware and hacking tools, stolen financial data, drugs, and various other contraband.
The money the two made over the six years of DeepDotWeb’s operation is approximately 8,155 bitcoin, which is around $8.4 million based on the trading value at the time of the transactions. Prihar attempted to conceal the nature of the money he had to move around in order to use, so he created shell companies and linked bank accounts onto them to move the funds directly from the bitcoin wallets. When the website was seized, the man agreed to forfeit $8,414,173, which was the amount he held at the time.
Prihar is now facing money laundering counts, which may incur up to 20 years in prison. A U.S. federal district court will review the case on August 2, 2021, so the actual sentence will be determined then. As for Michael Phan, he has been indicted already, but DoJ’s current announcement doesn’t give us anything else, so we guess that he has not admitted his guilt yet. As such, the investigations will continue to determine the exact role and involvement of Phan.
DeepDotWeb was a dark web links aggregator, marketplace reviewer, news portal, and even a space to host interviews with notorious figures from the cybercrime world. As such, the platform wasn’t an actual marketplace but more of a “byproduct” of the space. Prihar hopes that this will be considered by the court, even though he still profited in the millions of USD by the operation of DeepDotWeb.
As for what is going on in the dark web after the platform went offline, there have been some clones attempting to trick users into believing it’s back, but there has been no actual alternative or replacement to function at the same level.