It’s not just the dark web marketplace operators who face the law — sometimes it’s the people who facilitate access to those marketplaces. Israeli national and Brazil resident Tal Prihar has been sentenced to eight years in prison for his alleged role in a dark web money laundering scheme. He and co-defendant Michael Phan reportedly received the equivalent of $8.4 million in Bitcoin kickbacks for agreeing to link illegal dark net marketplaces from their news site DeepDotWeb. To hide the cryptocurrency’s origins, Prihar laundered the money by transferring payments to other Bitcoin accounts and conventional bank accounts tied to shell companies.
Prihar pleaded guilty in March 2021, and had already agreed to forfeit $8.4 million. Phan is still in the midst of extradition from Israel to face a money laundering charge.
The relatively stiff sentence might be a message to others who’d serve as brokers for illegal dark web outlets. If you knowingly point users to contraband (including illegal guns, hacking tools and drugs) and receive payment for it, you’re apparently as culpable as anyone selling those underground items. Whether or not this is an effective deterrent, it’s clear the feds don’t want to look soft.
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