14.03.18 Dark Web and Cybercrime Roundup

Alphabay Mod ‘Trappy’ Pleaded Guilty to Conspiracy Charge

In Atlanta, Ronald L. Wheeler, III, pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge in connection with his role in the Alphabay darknet market. After Wheeler’s arrest, the world learned that Wheeler was the man behind the account of infamous Alphabay moderator Trappy_AB. U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak announced that Wheeler had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud.

Federal authorities have not released any significant information about the case against Trappy. Some wonder how authorities even connected a Reddit account and an Alphabay account to the man. Although the (arguably vague) charge connected Wheeler only to fraudulent activity of some sort, federal authorities took the opportunity to connect Wheeler to “his nefarious career” as an Alphabay spokesperson. Officials said that Trappy aided a drug market that attempted to hide income through “digital currencies such as Bitcoin.”

Dutch Police Arrest One Hansa Buyer in Warning Campaign

The globally coordinated operation that brought down Hansa and Alphabay massively impacted the darknet market until users switched to new markets. The takedowns that ultimately led to Alphabay founder Alexandre Cazes’ suicide had an undeniably powerful impact. Likely more of an impact than any other operation. At the end of the day, though, the operation resulted in very few actual arrests. Dutch law enforcement provided a perfect example of this during a scare campaign in the Netherlands.

Authorities conducted a ‘knock-and-talk‘ campaign that targeted 37 users of the Hansa darknet market. The authorities knocked on doors and spoke with alleged Hansa buyers. All of the buyers—except for one poor soul—had purchased “personal amounts” of drugs and would not likely be prosecuted. One person, though, had ordered 150 ecstasy pills. The police arrested one 25-year-old from Wilp.

High school Student Busted For Selling Xanax to an Undercover Cop

High school senior 18-year-old Ethan Morris allegedly sold pressed Xanax bars to his classmates and then to an undercover police officer. Morris, according to Massachusetts authorities, purchased 1,100 “double dose Xanax” pills on the darknet for $750 in Bitcoin. The pills were pressed alprazolam bars that resembled the iconic Xanax bars. The only difference, according to the police and the school administration, was the increased dose of the counterfeit Xanax.

After several high school students in Morris’ town found themselves in a ditch after taking Xanax, the school administration and local authorities searched for the source of the pills. An undercover officer, undoubtedly armed with information from one of Morris’ friends, arranged a deal with Morris over Facebook. When Morris showed up at the meet with the pills, the police arrested him. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment hearing at Southern Berkshire District Court.

Wired Published a Detailed Account of the Hansa Takedown

Two Netherlands National High Tech Crime Unit officers broke down some information from their 10-month investigation that ended the Hansa darknet marketplace. Much of the information they revealed had already been released to the public. Like the arrest of the owners of the pirated eBook site who also owned Hansa. Or the locktime file that “phoned home” in a last minute attempt to identify the clearnet I.P. addresses of darknet vendors. Some of the information stood out, though:

  • German police carefully timed the raid of the Hansa owners in order to seize their computers in an unencrypted state.
  • Some may remember that all of the pictures on Hansa vanished and vendors had to reupload the pictures. More than 50 vendors forgot to erase EXIF data on the pictures—something Hansa automatically did prior to the LE takeover.
  • Despite the warnings on DeepDotWeb and Reddit, 64 vendors fell for the locktime trap and Dutch authorities logged their clearnet I.P. addresses.

German Vendor ‘Medimax’ Sentenced to Probation and Rehab

A darknet drug vendor from the German city of Halle faced a merciful judge at a sentencing hearing for drug trafficking crimes. 32-year-old Maximilian P., like many vendors, met his demise after postal employees intercepted a package that contained a variety of illegal substances. In August 2017, German police arrested Maximilian at his house after executing a search warrant and finding drugs and drug trafficking equipment.

Instead of receiving a lengthy prison sentence, the judge sentenced Maximilian to one year and three months in prison suspended with probation and a period of time at an inpatient rehab. Maximilian garnered sympathy after he recounted the story of his lifelong issues with drug abuse.