US Indicts 2 Israeli Operators of
May 9, 2019
U.S. law enforcement officials announced on Wednesday the indictment of
two Israeli operators of a website that referred hundreds of thousands
of users to underground internet marketplaces to purchase drugs, weapons
and other illegal products.
Tal Prihar, 37, an Israeli citizen living in Brazil, and Michael Phan,
34, who lives in Israel, were indicted by a federal grand jury in
Western Pennsylvania with money laundering in connection with operating
DeepDotWeb, a website that served as a gateway to the Darkweb, the
internet's dark underbelly where users can purchase and exchange illegal
Prihar was arrested by Paris authorities on Monday and faces likely
extradition to the U.S. Phan was arrested Monday in Israel and faces
charges there. Prosecutors declined to say whether they'll seek Phan's
extradition to the U.S.
The two Israeli nationals operated the DeepDotWeb from 2013 to late last
month when it was taken down by the FBI, collecting more than $15
million in commissions for directing users to various marketplaces such
as the now defunct AlphaBay.
The users, in turn, purchases hundreds of millions of dollars worth of
illegal drugs, firearms, malicious software, hacking tools, and stolen
financial information and credit cards, according to prosecutors.
About 24 percent of all orders on AlphaBay, which was one of the largest
Darkweb marketplaces before it was seized by the FBI in 2017, were
associated with an account created through a referral link provided by
Hyperlinks to Darknet marketplaces
W. Brady, the U.S. attorney for Western Pennsylvania, said the
DeepDotWeb's takedown represents a major blow to the Darknet economy.
"This is the single most significant law enforcement disruption of the
Darknet to date," Brady said at a press conference in Pittsburgh. "While
there have been successful prosecutions of various Darknet marketplaces,
this prosecution is the first to attack the infrastructure supporting
the Darknet itself."
Darknet marketplaces operate on Tor, a computer network that facilitates
anonymous communication and transactions over the internet. Tor
marketplaces can't be found via a Google search. To access a
marketplace, a user needs the site's exact .onion url, a top level
domain suffix designating an anonymous service reachable via the Tor
To address this problem, DeepDotWeb provided pages of hyperlinks to
various marketplaces such as AlphaBay Market and Hansa Market, allowing
users to navigate the marketplaces and collecting a commission each time
a user made a purchase.