Updated The administrators of a news website dedicated to the dark web have been arrested by the FBI and cops in Israel on suspicion of receiving commission for directing readers to a Tor-hidden souk that sold drugs and weapons.
News and features website Deepdotweb focused on things like noting when markets were on or offline, providing coverage of dark websites being hacked, running reviews of online bazaars, and producing interviews with people who used the underside of the internet. The site was seized by authorities this week, however.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania granted the FBI a seizure warrant to shut down the site. The case falls under the US Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and the Organized Crime and Gang Section.
Two Israelis aged 35 and 34, involved in running deepdotweb, were arrested in Tel Aviv and Ashdod, according to The Times of Israel in a sting operation led by the FBI\. The pair allegedly received millions of dollars in commission for referring their dot-com's readers to the dark-web marketplace Wall Street Market, where drugs, weapons, and other illicit goodies could be ordered.
Europol takes down Wall Street market: No, the other cesspool of dark international financial skullduggeryREAD MORE
The arrest was made a week after three men in Germany and another one in Brazil were apprehended by Europol for suspicion of managing Wall Street Market. The site, described as the second largest illegal online market, hosted some 5,400 sellers and over a million user accounts, where dark net surfers could purchase things like illicit drugs, weapons, counterfeit goods, and malware using various cryptocurrencies.
European officials seized over €550,000 ($615,563) in cash, as well as hundreds and thousands of Bitcoin and Monero, several vehicles and some computers. Two other people accused of being the top sellers on Wall Street Market were also arrested in Los Angeles. US authorities confiscated $1m in cash, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and weapons in the bust.
That's not the end of the Wall Street Market rabbit hole, however. The marketplace was embroiled in another scandal just before it was shut down: one of its moderators known online as Med3l1n was accused of blackmailing its users for Bitcoin, demanding digital dosh or he or she would shop buyers to the Feds.
Later, netizens accused the marketplace of operating an "exit scam," as it absconded with $30m in people's cryptocurrency held by the site, according to a thread in the in Dread Forum, a Reddit-like forum for discussing dark-web markets. ®
Updated to add
US prosecutors have released more information on the Deepdotweb case, accusing Tal Prihar, 37, and Michael Phan, 34, of money laundering and conspiracy "relating to millions of dollars in kickbacks they received for purchases of fentanyl, heroin, and other illegal contraband by individuals referred to dark net marketplaces by DDW."
PS: Hackers stole more than 7,000 Bitcoin worth $40m from Binance, the enormo-crypto exchange admitted on Tuesday.