As a whole, the internet has its fair share of criminals. Who can forget about legendary hackers such as Kevin Mitnick? Even before the internet itself, we had phone phreakers like Captain Crunch, bending information systems to their will. Often for nothing more than a laugh.
However, at their respective peaks, neither of these two legendary figures could have fathomed the possibilities of the Dark Web.
Anonymous and hidden from view by powerful encryption, the Dark Web is in many ways a playground for those who want to profit from crime. Added to this the ease with which one can move money thanks to Bitcoin, and the stage is set for crimes in a completely different class. The criminal masterminds we’re about to meet took maximum advantage of the Dark Web’s nature for their own ends.
Hieu Minh Ngo
The Dark Web does not lack for hackers or specifically hackers that specialize in identity theft. Yet even among those masses, Vietnamese hacker Hieu Mingh Ngo stands apart.
Just to get it out of the way, Ngo is currently vacationing in federal prison. For his crimes, a sentence of 13 years was handed down. It wasn’t because of his genius or quality as a hacker, but due to sheer quantity. For about six years, Ngo pulled the strings from his home in Vietnam. In all, he stole approximately 200 million people’s identity info. This included their social security numbers.
Ngo never used this info itself, but sold it on to other hackers, who would then profit from identity theft directly. It’s his role as a massive black market data broker that eventually landed him in the clink for so long.
Ross Ulbricht (aka Dread Pirate Roberts)
We’ve written about Ross Ulbricht before and chances are you’ve already heard the name. Yes, Ross is the main figure behind the infamous, notorious Silk Road black market.
It took a long time for authorities to figure out that Ross was indeed “Dread Pirate Roberts”. Under his guidance, Silk Road pioneered the Dark Web market template we know today. Ross is a strong libertarian and Silk Road was an expression of that philosophy. Which is why it did not sell weapons or any other products that directly cause harm.
That noble start didn’t go all that far, however. The sordid tale of Silk Road includes Ross soliciting hits on people he felt might betray him. The judge that sentenced him also didn’t have much sympathy for his multi-million dollar free market drug experiment. The Dread Pirate Roberts is serving a double life sentence – plus 40 years. Without the possibility of parole.
Richard Huckle – the Gap Year Pedophile
While identity thieves and drug dealers may be reprehensible in a general sense, most people hold a special sort of attempt for people who abuse children.
In the case of Richard Huckle, the most shocking revelation is that he was pretty much still a kid himself when his sordid tale began. At just 19 years old it was during his “gap year” that his cruel exploitation of youths began.
For almost 10 years Huckle victimized children in places like Malaysia and Cambodia. So why does Huckle make this list? Because he boasted about his exploits on the Dark Web and shared illegal material there. It was this material that let law enforcement track him down.
Huckle may have had as many as 200 victims, but was convicted on 71 counts, related to 23 of them. Still, that was enough to put him in prison for a quarter century.
Keeping with the horrible human being theme, we have Peter Scully. This man took the art of child abuse to such an extreme that many people flat out disbelieved any of it could be true. His most violent and disturbing material was basically thought of as an urban legend. Scully plied his trade on Dark Web pedophile rings, so when he was finally caught and sentenced, he earned a spot as one of the absolutely worst Dark Web criminals in history. He’s currently serving life in prison.
We end this list of with the big kahuna himself. Shannon McCoole is another Dark Web criminal who traded in illicit child sexual abuse content. He wasn’t some small-time pervert, no! He ran the largest child pornography site on the Dark Web. In addition to this, McCoole personally abused numerous victims. Luckily he’ll be spending 35 years in jail, where he can’t hurt anyone else.
Tip of the Iceberg
The only reason we know about these heinous criminals is that they’ve been caught. Undoubtedly, there are even worse perpetrators hidden in the depths of the Dark Web. Whether we will ever know about them is by no means certain, but there is little doubt that they are out there. Somewhere.
Who is the worst Dark Web criminal you’ve ever heard of? Do you think these guys deserve to be on the list? If you liked this article, please share it with your friends. Don’t forget that you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!