This week, an Israeli national was sentenced to 97 months in prison for operating DeepDotWeb (DDW), a website that connected internet users with Darknet marketplaces, where they purchased illegal firearms, malware and hacking tools, stolen financial data, heroin, fentanyl and other illicit materials.
According to court documents, Tal Prihar, 37, an Israeli citizen residing in Brazil, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in March 2021. Beginning in October 2013, Prihar owned and operated DDW, along with co-defendant Michael Phan, 34, of Israel. In addition to providing general information about the Darknet, DDW provided users with direct links to illegal Darknet marketplaces, which are not accessible through traditional search engines.
For providing these links, Prihar and Phan received kickback payments from the marketplaces in the form of virtual currency, including approximately 8,155 bitcoins (worth approximately $8.4 million at the time of the transactions). To conceal the nature and source of these illegal kickback payments, Prihar transferred the payments from his DDW bitcoin wallet to other bitcoin accounts and to bank accounts he controlled in the names of shell companies. DDW was seized by federal authorities in April 2019, and Prihar has agreed to forfeit $8,414,173. Phan remains abroad and is currently undergoing extradition proceedings in Israel.