DeepDotWeb Operator Pleads Guilty to Laundering $8.4M in Bitcoin Kickbacks

Tal Prihar admitted to taking bitcoin payments from darknet marketplaces in exchange for referral links.

AccessTimeIconMar 31, 2021 at 7:16 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:34 p.m. UTC
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One of the administrators of darknet news site DeepDotWeb pleaded guilty to federal money-laundering conspiracy charges, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Tal Prihar, a 37-year-old Israeli based in Brazil, admitted to receiving 8,155 BTC (worth $8.4 million at the time) from vendors whose illicit products he linked to as the former administrator of the now-defunct blog. 

He further admitted to moving the crypto through a web of shell companies in an attempt to launder the funds. 

Prosecutors described Prihar as a “broker” for drug and gun vendors whose illicit merchandise lies beyond the reach of Google and other web crawlers. Users of the unindexed dark web usually must know where to look beforehand, but with DeepDotWeb, one of the better-known dark web sites from 2013 to 2019, they found a ready guide.

Prosecutors said he acknowledged DeepDotWeb was a “gateway to numerous dark web marketplaces” that rewarded him with bitcoin kickbacks for every order his site referred.

FBI agents seized the DeepDotWeb domain in May 2019 alleging money laundering. Prihar and Michael Phan, another Israeli, were arrested and indicted shortly thereafter. Phan’s case is ongoing.

Prihar agreed to forfeit $8.4 million, prosecutors said. His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 2. He could face a maximum sentence of 20 years.

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