FBI And Half The World Bust Operators Of A Site That Made The Dark Web Searchable

from the deep-dot-web-is-dead,-making-way-for-deep-dot-web-2.0 dept

Because it's so much easier to bust websites than actual criminals, police in Israel have decided to arrest the people behind a dark web site that made the dark web searchable. Zack Whittaker has the details for TechCrunch.

The FBI have arrested several people suspected of involvement in running Deep Dot Web, a website for facilitating access to dark web sites and marketplaces.

Two suspects were arrested in Tel Aviv and Ashdod, according to Israel’s Tel Aviv Police, which confirmed the arrests in a statement earlier in the day. Local media first reported the arrests.

Arrests were also made in France, Germany and the Netherlands. A source familiar with the operation said a site administrator was arrested in Brazil.

That may have been who effected the arrests, as cops say. But the United States had its hand in this action. Deep Dot Web's landing page has been defaced by the FBI and its multitude of task force logos, indicating the investigative agency now controls the site.

The wording on the FBI's new landing page says something about money laundering, but that seems to a stretch. As Whittaker describes it, the site made money with referral links, connecting users with other sites. What it didn't do was offer any illegal items itself, even if it made it possible for users to find and purchase those items on their own.

Of course, if the site was taking a cut of the profits from illegal sales, that's a completely different thing. A percentage of contraband is just contraband. It doesn't seem to add up to money laundering, though, but that's what's alleged in the FBI's site seizure notice.

Whoever's behind this site had better hope they don't end up being tried in the United States. The person behind dark web drug marketplace Silk Road received consecutive life sentences from a New York judge. The DOJ recommended Ross Ublricht, a.k.a. the Dread Pirate Roberts, be held personally accountable for all $184 million-worth of drugs sold via the Silk Road.

Over in England, the person behind Silk Road 2.0 -- which did double the business of the original Silk Road -- received a five-year sentence for doing the same thing Ulbricht did, only better.

It's a big score for a number of law enforcement agencies around the world, but so far, none of them want to talk about it. None of the multiple agencies involved have delivered statements or returned requests for comment. So, we'll just have to wait to see how this will all shake out. The US government's dark web investigations have not been without their problems or free from vindictive prosecutorial behavior.

The international game of whack-a-mole will continue as governments around the world continue to believe they can keep buyers from finding sellers by shutting down one portal at a time.

Filed Under: dark web, deep dot web, fbi, money laundering, search
Companies: deep dot web


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  • icon
    Matthew Cline (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 5:04am

    Money laundering

    This is just a wild guess, but it might be something like this: Deep Dot Web keeps being dropped as a customer by their ISP/bank/whatever because of what DDW does. The operator of one of the dark sites getting referrals from DDW also happens to have ownership in an ISP/bank/whatever, and uses that to force the whatever to take on and keep DDW as a customer, and in return DDW gives him a reduced fee for referrals. With that setup there's a money flow of dark site operator ⇒ DDW ⇒ whatever service ⇒ dark site operator, and thus there's the structure of money laundering.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      TKnarr (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 10:23am

      Re: Money laundering

      In which case everyone who has a credit card can be charged with the same charges. Cardholder => bank (paycheck) => credit card company (card payment via bank transfer) => cardholder (card available amount increased by amount of payment).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris-Mouse (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 5:08am

    What are the chances that the real goal of this is to get a legal precedent set that says search engines are liable for anything that happens on any web site they list in their search results?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 10 May 2019 @ 5:00am

      Re: Liability

      We're there now in some countries due to search engines acting like, erm, search engines where negative comments about people are concerned.

      I'm still waiting to hear back from that troll AC about what we'd replace them with and how we'd find stuff on the internet without them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    cummins diesel, 8 May 2019 @ 5:13am

    diesel web search engine

    how is this any different from what google has always done? a search index is just that and may even help law enforcement find suspect wb sites.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 10:12am

      Re: diesel web search engine

      Thats the thing..
      PArrest them, hold in Jail until 1-2 either get good lawyers or DEMAND their release, unless they can find a crime, that IS a crime in all those nations..

      NOW, if you like the Conspiracy side..They DONT like the competition.
      Hemp was made illegal in the early 1900's...Why?
      MJ was made illegal in the 70's..
      What happened to Cotton clothing?? Why pay $20 for Plastic clothing, when coton is/was cheaper..(it forces price up when it comes back)
      the Islamist's, were getting farmers OUT of the poppy business Until we got to Afghanistan...
      How about the Comic's book code, and the idea that All cartoons have to be for kids, and the hero never dies.. until Anime came to the USA there were VERY few cartoons that showd anything about real life.

      All kinds of meanings if you dig things up..

      So, they take out a sign post for the dark web. Why? To drive it deeper into the crust so THEY dont have to pay attention to it.
      Look at Legal MJ, and it Finally started going Down in price, EXCEPT in the illegal states, and Some of those states are getting REAL bored, not arresting Criminals, that Sit around smoking MJ... Soon the legal states will have a problem.. showing that Most of the Police job was/is based on drugs, and it gave them a reason to interfere with persons, just Doing Their thing.

      With the Net, and advertising WHO has what.. we can bypass the Locals, and get the stuff we want, Sometimes at better prices..
      But how easy is it to track and trace those Persons dealing/selling?? Pretty easy. get 1 package shipped and you can have a general location. Get a second or Thrid and you can find where they are Dropping the packages and you are even closer. Monitor that location and make another order and You can have 200 people recorded and pick your person.

      Im a person that think IDIOCY should be shown and displayed. Show the kids How/why they need to be careful. You will never pay attention until you have a Shop teacher without a thumb...AND then 1 of the kids Finds out HOW it was done personally.. OOPS...!..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Stephen T. Stone, 8 May 2019 @ 5:23am

    Wow, what a coincidence, I feel like I may be dreaming. But I pinched myself, and hey, here I am, red mark from my fingernails and all. So, when I read this story, I thought THAT’S AMAZING I just heard about EXACTLY the same thing that was not quite the same but very similar. Actual Criminals, that’s the subject, just like you say. Busting actual criminals, and that doesn’t mean making a bust so their face lasts 1,000 years, it means GO TO JAIL! Or even, HANG BY YOUR NECK UNTIL YOU ARE DEAD! For years. On the internet, periscoped, live, for the WHOLE WORLD to see as your face turns black. And then kept live on the internet, for years, as you decompose wither and disintegrate.

    Yup, I’m telling you, that’s what they’re talking about it. It’s kind of an old thing from mid evil times brought into the modern day, I think it was a movie writer who thought of it. Brilliant, really, harmless, non-toxic, but a not-so-subtle reminder of what can happen to traitors to the USA. I think it was submitted anonymously to SCOTUS, who has now conspired to make it future law. They can do that, you know. They can orchestrate everything and watch every lower court struggle with any issue, and then resolve it. And they can plan to do it, years in advance, as they are doing now. Really. They are just like Jerry Nadler and his team of insiders. But wow, the secrecy. No one could ever penetrate it, except me. Because they all like me and hang out with me, virtually. I mean, not in person, but, well, you understand. They’re my friends on the Internet. The Dark Web. The SCOTUS Dark Web - you know the place, right?

    Oh, shit, I don’t think I was supposed to say that. Or the other thing. Gosh, I get befuddled when I’m posting LIVE and UNSCRIPTED! Oh wait. I am reading something. What’s that again?

    Right. So, anyway, I say yes, Let’s bust some actual criminals (Comey, Brennan, ...) and then hang them, in public, for a year, and let everyone watch them ripen into the traitorous disgusting carcasses they are. That sounds reason to me. And my name is Stephen T. Stone

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Matthew Cline (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 5:39am

      Re:

      ... what?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 5:44am

        Re: Re:

        Just one of the trolls rambling incoherently, flag and ignore.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 6:28am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yep, he does seem to have gained a rather obsessive attitude toward Stephen in the last few weeks. I wonder if this is some kind of experiment to see what it takes to actually get banned here, rather the common or garden mental illness that's usually on display.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 6:36am

            he does seem to have gained a rather obsessive attitude toward Stephen in the last few weeks

            At this point, I am surprised they have not stopped trying to goad me into replies here and skipped straight to stalking me on social media.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2019 @ 11:34am

              Re:

              Careful; that sounds like a challenge. And it's the reason I hide behind anonymity; I don't want my other online presences polluted.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 6:04am

      Re: Imposter Troll

      I get befuddled when I’m posting LIVE and UNSCRIPTED!

      Well take yer Meds imposter, the nice young men in their clean white coats are coming for you and your senseless gibberish.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2019 @ 10:14pm

      Re:

      You dream of Stephen now, Hamilton?

      Wow, I'm... I'm sorry. For Stephen!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sok Puppette, 8 May 2019 @ 6:05am

    If Deep Dot Web is the one I remember, it's misleading to call it a search engine. It was more like a news site with advertising.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2019 @ 6:21am

    It doesn't seem to add up to money laundering, though, but that's what's alleged in the FBI's site seizure notice.

    A seizure notice isn't where the law enforcement pleads their case. There isn't a whole lot to discuss until they do.

    Ever go back and re-read your reporting on cases after they are resolved? This headline is a good one:

    "MalwareTech Prosecution Appears To Be Falling Apart As Gov't Plays Keep Away With Documents Requested By Defense"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 8 May 2019 @ 6:37am

    The wording on the FBI's new landing page says something about money laundering, but that seems to a stretch.

    Because every case is better with money laundering, and conspiracy.

    Judge: So what cases do we have today?

    Law Enforcement: This teenager stole a candy bar from a store, also he committed money laundering and conspiracy.

    Law Enforcement: Then there's this man accused of breaking into a home to rob it, and also money laundering and conspiracy.

    Law Enforcement: Next we have a woman who vandalized her neighbor's property, also money laundering and conspiracy.

    Law Enforcement: This teen assaulted another teen at school, also money laundering and conspiracy.

    Law Enforcement: FInally, this woman drove through a red light.

    Judge: No money laundering or conspiracy?

    Law Enforcement: Oh right, I forgot to tack those on there. Thanks for reminding me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John85851 (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 10:05am

      Re:

      You forgot law enforcement's favorite phrase to add on additional charges: "with a computer".

      "This teenager stole a candy bar from a store, also he committed money laundering and conspiracy."
      Okay, give him a few years in prison for the conspiracy charge,

      "This teenager stole a candy bar from a store, also he committed money laundering and conspiracy... with a computer."
      OMG!! He's one of them hacker types! Life sentence!!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Lord Lidl of Cheem (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 7:00am

    So when it comes to dark web marketplaces, much like property, its all down to location, location, location.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2019 @ 8:30am

    Google does not show every website in its listing,
    it blocks some websites from its search engine ,
    websites that may be used to sell illegal drugs or host hate speech content.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2019 @ 8:35am

    And will be back bigger better darker faster than the ink can dry

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sumgai (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 8:54am

      Re:

      Are you perhaps referring to already-dry digital ink?

      I think a better metaphor for today's world would be "sooner than a bit can fly through the Internet".

      sumgai

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 9:26am

    Massive...

    ...ineptitude.

    Any sane "intelligence agency" would do everything they could to KEEP a search engine of the dark web online and running. Hell, they'd be helping write code for it.

    And busting the worst of the worst the engine could find.

    The only sane reason I can see for this is that the various intel agencies WERE so far into the engine that it became "public knowledge" that if you were linked to the engine, you were being set up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 9:42am

    I still remember the Dotcom raid

    And as such I don't recognize the legitimacy of law enforcement agencies to police the internet, except specifically by the threat of force.

    But anyone with a gun and a physical address of a server host can do that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2019 @ 10:29am

      Re: I still remember the Dotcom raid

      "And as such I don't recognize the legitimacy"

      No one gives a about your opinion or what you recognize, especially law enforcement, when they through you in a cell. In fact, law enforce does not even give a if their actions are legal, anywhere in the world, not even in their own country.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    K`Tetch (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 11:06am

    don't forget, DDW has been caught making up stuff to sensationalise things, and getting caught out on their lack of knowledge.
    just 5 years ago, they were trying REALLY HARD to push a fake story about Comcast screwing with TOR.
    http://ktetch.co.uk/2014/09/comcast-tor-and-deepdotweb-truth-edition/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 11:53am

    Internet Policing

    I am waiting with baited breath for them to create an Interpol for the Internet (IFTI). There are two ways that could go. The first is that they may only enforce the rules that apply in a particular country and would have to respect treaties that define extradition rules between those countries, with all the attending headaches. The other is that they apply whatever laws they feel like applying, wherever they want to apply them without regard for anyone's law and without respect for anyone's extradition rules, and headaches only when courts start to interfere, or fail to follow through. Which might or might not happen, depending on location.

    I suspect the latter will be more likely than the former, much like various police forces, and courts act now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2019 @ 12:27pm

      Re: Internet Policing

      There are only two possible outcomes from an attempt to "police" the internet? Why is it limited to two, certainly there are more things that could happen.

      For example, in NYC you could be subjected to an internet Stop 'N Frisk. In this case the police would demand you enable the desktop sharing .... oh wait, they will make it mandatory all the time enabled so they can clandestinely monitor your online activities to ensure you are being a good little citizen. Do you want to know more?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bamboo Harvester (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 1:24pm

      Re: Internet Policing

      So we'd see a pile of Canadians charged with weed crimes even though weed is legal there.

      And Australian law WOULD be comparable to US law...

      /s

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 May 2019 @ 1:05am

        Re: Re: Internet Policing

        "And Australian law WOULD be comparable to US law..."

        Of course it is. Our resident troll, dear old Baghdad Bob/Bobmail/blue/jhon/sockpuppet X has said so himself.

        Hence why he so often likes to quote australian law in arguments for overturning judgments made by american judges in US courts...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Bamboo Harvester (profile), 9 May 2019 @ 6:57am

          Re: Re: Re: Internet Policing

          Every time that comes up I'm reminded of the first episode of Rake, where it's discovered that NSW doesn't actually have a law against cannibalism...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 9 May 2019 @ 11:16am

            Cannibalism

            In most counties, cannibalism is at most a misdemeanor near desecrating the dead. Eating people is personally risky, but not a common threat to society. It's acquiring your meat that's the problem: someone else was using that!

            I was fascinated by the horror of revenge cannibalism in the Song of Ice and Fire (that is, feeding persons to their relatives). The GoT version is over the top, but the version in the books is only strongly implied which accentuates the horror.

            But when I think about it, it doesn't make the original murder and death more terrible, as it's just unusual treatment of the remains. In fact, horrible, lingering, Edgar-Allen-Poe-style murder tends to make for bad eating.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 10 May 2019 @ 5:09am

              Re: Cannibalism

              While I agree with you in principle, Uriel, the problem people have (and the reason they freak out about it) is, "You ate Aunt Felicia!"

              It's the fact that the bodies of the dead, though technically meat, are Somebody That We Used To Know. Therefore desecration of the dead is tantamount to assault on the living as the living who suffer at the thought of the treatment meted out to their beloved dead. It can leave psychological scars, per testimony on a documentary about medical companies using dead people's body parts (including bones) without the consent of their families. The memory of the distraught son describing his pain at his inability to protect his dead father continues to haunt me.

              That said, cannibalism was considered to be perfectly normal until relatively recently. It's a funny old world, innit?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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