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DeepDotWeb operator sentenced to eight years for money laundering

DeepDotWeb operator sentenced to eight years for money laundering


Israeli national Tal Prihar pled guilty to routing money from kickbacks through Bitcoin and shell companies

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A stylized illustration of a Bitcoin in purple and black shadows.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

In the culmination of a two-year legal process, the former operator of dark web index site DeepDotWeb was handed a sentence of 97 months in prison for money laundering on Tuesday.

The sentence was issued to Tal Prihar, an Israeli national, by a judge of the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The judgment from the court ordered Prihar to forfeit $8.4 million in cash, along with an ASUS laptop, a black iPhone, and his accounts at cryptocurrency exchanges Binance, Kraken and OKCoin.

The DeepDotWeb site started operating in 2013, operated by Prihar and another Israeli citizen Michael Phan, who is a co-defendant in the case. The site was hosted on the open internet but provided links to the .onion domains of dark web marketplaces and posted news updates from dark web services.

The DeepDotWeb domain was seized by the FBI in May 2019 as part of a coordinated operation with police in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Israel that saw multiple arrests of marketplace operators.

After his arrest in Brazil, Prihar pled guilty to money laundering, admitting to receiving kickbacks in the form of cryptocurrency from dark web services featured on his site. These payments were reportedly converted to fiat currency and sent to bank accounts he controlled in the name of shell companies set up to launder the funds.

Prihar’s co-defendant Michael Phan remains in Israel and is currently undergoing extradition proceedings, according to the Justice Department.