March 31, 2021

Co-owner of illegal website pleads guilty to laundering virtual currency payments

On March 31, 2021, Israeli national Tal Prihar, the owner and operator of DeepDotWeb (DDW), a website that enabled its users to purchase illegal contraband via non-traditional search engines, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and agreed to forfeit $8.4 million, the value of the illegal kickbacks he received.

According to court documents, Prihar owned DDW with co-defendant Michael Phan since 2013, serving as a broker for Darknet marketplaces to provide users with general information and direct links to illegal marketplace products such as firearms, narcotics, malware, and stolen financial data.   In exchange for the links, Prihar and Phan received kickbacks from the marketplaces in the form of virtual currency totaling approximately 8,155 bitcoins — worth more that $8.4 million at the time of the transactions.  Prihar attempted to conceal the nature and source of the payments by making a series of more than 40,000 deposits to his DDW bitcoin wallet, withdrawing them in 2,700 transactions, and transferring them to other bitcoin and shell company accounts. 

The guilty plea comes almost two years after federal authorities seized the DDW website in April of 2019.  Prihar is scheduled to be sentenced on August 2, 2021. 

Department of Justice Press Release | Indictment | Indictment Memorandum | Order