19.05.18 Darknet and Cybercrime Roundup

Auckland Dealer Won His Prison Sentence Appeal

At the High Court in Auckland, New Zealand, a young man appealed a two-year prison sentence he had received for selling various illegal substances on the darknet. The man, Elias Valentin Smith, was only a teenager when New Zealand law enforcement caught him during Operation Tiger. His sentence—one that many thought was surprisingly mild when compared to vendors convicted of similar crimes—was reduced due to a number of factors his parents and lawyers said were overlooked during the initial sentencing. His age was one of the most important pieces of the defence’s appeal.

Smith imported and distributed various drugs in 2015 and 2016. The authorities intercepted primarily LSD and other psychedelic substances. Unlike other drug dealers, his parents told the High Court judge, Smith had not entered the drug game to get rich. The judge took Smith’s age, motivation, and other factors into account before making a decision regarding Smith’s appeal. In the end, the judge agreed with the defense and converted the two-year prison sentence into a 14-month period of house arrest.

Wisconsin Woman Charged for Buying Oxycodone Online

A Wisconsin woman who had received more than 640 packages within two years finally got caught by a United States Postal Service employee for buying oxycodone online. Jamie Lynn Soteropoulos, 36, had allegedly purchased a package of oxycodone pills from a darknet vendor in April, recently filed court documents revealed.

At Waukesha County Circuit Court, Soteropoulos was charged with seven drug-related crimes connected to buying the drugs online, importing them, and mistakenly picking the drugs up from the Post Office with assorted drugs and drug paraphernalia in her vehicle. How she had successfully received nearly one package a day for two years remains a mystery. Not every package contained drugs, presumably.

San Diego Darknet Dealer Admits Carfentanil Distribution

Sky Justin Gornik, 39, admitted he had been buying and selling carfentanil, fentanyl, and ketamine on the darknet. During the investigation, the authorities intercepted or seized 100 grams of fentanyl and another two grams of carfentanil. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of California announced that Gornik had enough of the two drugs in his home to kill 86,000 people in San Diego.

Inmate Orders Mail Bomb on Darknet to Kill Ex-Wife

Michael Young Jr., 31, and Vance Volious Jr., 36, have both been convicted of attempted murder after planning to murder Young’s ex-wife. Unlike the majority of homicides that take place on a daily basis, this murder would have involved a mail bomb ordered on the darknet. Young had already been serving time for murdering his FIL when he orchestrated the mail-bomb scheme.

Both men, along with Tyrell Fears, 18, and other unidentified individuals worked together to execute the plan. Young, from inside prison, helped his partners in the outside by arranging for individuals to handle package drops and by helping the conspirators understand the darknet and how to work the mail bomb. Fears has also pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy.

EFF Warns Users to Switch from PGP Encrypted Email to Something Else – Temporarily

A new research paper described a vulnerability in the way many popular mail clients handle PGP-encrypted messages. The included proof-of-concept demonstrated how an attacker could obtain the contents of an encrypted email simply by sending a carefully crafted email to the victim. The victim would be completely unaware that the malicious email had exposed their encrypted messages to an outside attacker.

“In a nutshell, EFAIL abuses active content of HTML emails, for example externally loaded images or styles, to exfiltrate plaintext through requested URLs,” the paper explained.

The full paper and technical specifications can be found here (PDF).

The content of the paper sparked some heated debates in the security community. Some blamed outdated email clients that have not been coded in a way that blocks a message from being rendered if integrity checks fail. Others, given that this issue has been a known weakness for a long time, blame developers of PGP systems for essentially ignoring an issue that, until now, seemed insignificant.

Now is a good time to look into alternatives to Open-PGP and S/MIME systems, such as the Signal. DeepDotWeb has comparisons of many secure messaging platforms.

Dream Market Banned the Sale of Fentanyl Products

In a move only minimally publicized, Dream market banned the sale of fentanyl products. Customers might not have noticed the ban; Dream staff allegedly only sent information to vendors who sell on the long-standing darknet marketplace. Without a subreddit for announcements or a darknet forum like Dread, the few noticed the ban. The market staff did update the “help” page to include fentanyl in the list of products vendors are forbidden to sell.

Many have questioned this decision. Some believe that vendors will start selling fentanyl under different names. Will fentanyl sales end fentanyl-related overdoses caused by fentanyl from the darknet? Many doubt the ban will have any positive outcome.