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AlphaBay Dark Web Marketplace Moderator Gets 11 Years In Prison

AlphaBay Dark Web Marketplace Moderator Gets 11 Years In Prison

Bryan Connor Herrell, a 25-year-old from Colorado, was sentenced to 11 years of prison time for acting as a moderator on the dark web marketplace AlphaBay.

According to court documents, between May 2016 and July 2017, Herrell acted as a marketplace moderator and a scam watcher known under the ‘Penissmith’ and ‘Botah’ nicknames.

During this time, he settled more than 20,000 disputes between AlphaBay vendors and buyers, while being paid by the marketplace owners in Bitcoin.

Herrell was indicted on racketeering charges as shown by an indictment filed in December 2017 and unsealed in June 2019. He pleaded guilty to the charges on January 27, 2020.

The court sentenced him to 11 years in prison, even though after pleading guilty he was facing a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years.

AlphaBay before being taken down

Also read: The Scope Of Singapore Privacy: How We Use It In A Right Way

AlphaBay creator died in jail

AlpaBay’s creator, Canadian national Alexandre Cazes, was also arrested at his residence in Bangkok, Thailand in June 2017 by the Royal Thai Police with the help of the FBI and the DEA.

His identity was discovered by the FBI after several OpSec (operational security) lapses such as the use of the AlphaBay admin’s personal email address for delivering welcoming messages to new members on AlphaBay’s forum.

Cazes was able to earn over $23 million in cryptocurrency while the AlphaBay was operating, as well as real money in several bank accounts from Thailand, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Saint Vincent among others.

Thailand authorities were also able to seize cars and real estate valued at roughly $12.5 million after Cazes’ arrest.

“At the time of his arrest, law enforcement discovered Cazes’s laptop open and in an unencrypted state,” the US Department of Justice (DoJ) detailed.

“Agents and officers found several text files that identified the passwords/passkeys for the AlphaBay website, the AlphaBay servers, and other online identities associated with AlphaBay.”

According to a DoJ press release, the AlpaBay investigation is still active until all former marketplace admins will befound and sentenced even though Cazes’ indictment was dismissed after he was found dead in his jail cell one week after his arrest, on July 12, 2017.

AlphaBay takedown notification

AlphaBay: largest darknet market of its time

“On AlphaBay, vendors, and purchasers engaged in hundreds of thousands of illicit transactions for guns, drugs, stolen identity information, credit card numbers, and other illegal items,” the DoJ says.

AlphaBay was considered to be the largest online drug marketplace, with FBI Active Director McCabe saying at the time that it was ten times larger than Silk Road with more than 200,000 users and roughly 40,000 vendors. 

“There were over 250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals on AlphaBay, and over 100,000 listings for stolen and fraudulent identification documents and access devices, counterfeit goods, malware, and other computer hacking tools, firearms, and fraudulent services,” the Europol said.

“A conservative estimation of USD 1 billion was transacted in the market since its creation in 2014. Transactions were paid in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.”

AlphaBay darknet market was taken down following a joint law enforcement operation in July 2017 [12] and coordinated raids in the US, Canada, and Thailand on July 13, 2017, as part of an FBI and DEA-led operation known as Bayonet.

The marketplace’s servers were seized by law enforcement in Canada and the Netherlands, while millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency were also frozen and seized.

Also read: The Importance Of Knowing Personal Data Protection Regulations



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