An Israeli national who ran the DeepDotWeb (DDW) dark web news and reviews platform has been sent to prison following a ruling that served him 97 months in prison over charges of money laundering, including the order to forfeit $8.4 million.
The defendant, identified as 37-year-old Tal Prihar, received the prison sentence according to official reports by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Attorney Cindy Chung for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Past reports point to previous court proceedings where the Israeli DDW co-owner pleaded guilty to charges involving the operation of the online platform alongside another administrator from the year 2013.
According to past records. Prihar pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in March 2021, which happened about two years following his apprehension and the law enforcement seizure of the platform.
Point to note, DDW did not have direc t involvement with illicit darknet activities but got into trouble for being linked to a host of dark web marketplaces dealing in all manner of illegal stuff from drugs, weapons, stolen data and hacking tools.
In particular, DDW featured a news section that served users with information concerning the latest trends across various Tor sites, dark web reviews and tutorials for beginner darknet enthusiasts.
What’s more, DDW was a cleanet site that provided the typically hard-to-find links to darknet platforms, a fact that ensured that it was easily accessible to a much larger audience beyond the closed communities within the dark web economy.
Dark Web Kickbacks Running into Millions
According to a press release by the DOJ, DDW was operated by Prihar alongside another co-defendant identified as 34-year-old Michael Phan.
The duo received kickback payments from dark web marketplaces that were being promoted on the DDW site. These funds were transferred to them in the form of cryptocurrency, including about 8,155 bitcoins that were valued at $8.4 million at the time.
Reportedly, in order to hide the nature and source of the illegal darknet kickback payments, Prihar moved the funds from his DDW bitcoin wallet to other crypto accounts and to bank accounts he operated in the names of shell companies.
In the end, a lengthy law enforcement operation led to DDW’s seizure in April 2019, and Prihar agreed to forfeit the millions of dollars in dirty money. While his colleague has met the conclusion to his case, Phan is still based abroad where he’s currently undergoing extradition proceedings in Israel.