A lot has been written about the dark web and the criminal threats that may be emanating from there. Law enforcement has started to crack down on dark web activity more than ever.
What is the dark web?
So what is the dark web? The dark web represents about 5% of the internet and consists of websites and activity anonymized by the Tor browser. On the dark web a person’s identity can be hidden and this can facilitate many types of illegal activity, with certain types of illegal activity being particularly prevalent.
What crimes happen on the dark web?
Some of the common crimes associated with the dark web include buying and selling illegal drugs, buying and selling illegal firearms, identity theft (selling and buying stolen credit card and passport details for example), extortion and bribery, illegal pornography such as child pornography and many types of fraud and scams.
Why the dark web crackdown?
Recent actions to crack down on crime have increasingly targeted the dark web. The longest running and largest dark web marketplace, Hydra was shut down this month following an investigation by the Department of Justice and German authorities. On most dark web marketplaces or exchanges, cryptocurrency is the way people pay for products and services. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is in the process of identifying over 100 virtual currency addresses that were allegedly used to conduct illicit transactions through Hydra.
The first cryptocurrency forfeiture in Massachusetts earlier this year was worth 2M in bitcoin. The forfeiture was part of the sentencing of the leader of the dark web drug trafficking organization, East Side High. US Attorney Rachael Rollins said that the sentencing was designed to send a message to Dark Web cyber-criminals that the federal government is entering the darknet space in search of cyber-criminals. “We will find you and we will hold you accountable,” Rollins said.
Is the dark web really anonymous?
The dark web is a subsection of the “Deep Web.” The Deep Web is the internet that isn’t visible to search engines. It could be everything from bank and government information to websites behind a paywall, to anonymized illegal activity or people communicating via anonymous networks under authoritarian regimes. Unlike the Deep Web, the dark web is intentionally anonymized by using “darknet” networks, including private networks of servers and peer to peer networks that deliberately anonymize traffic.
It is easier to conduct illegal operations like drug trafficking through the dark web as people don’t have to launder money to obscure transactions, which would normally leave traces for law enforcement. Cryptocurrency transactions are anonymous, so people can pay for illegal drugs and firearms directly in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Have you been charged with crimes on the dark web?
The danger of the dark web is that if you are charged with conducting illegal activities via the internet or mail order exchange, due to the interstate nature of the operation, it is a federal crime. An operation doesn’t even need to be traced to a physical location for a serious crime to be charged. Federal agents and police are increasingly targeting alleged cyber-criminals via sting operations. Federal agents with access to the dark web could pose as people interested in purchasing illegal materials or people with a business presence on the dark web. When you are charged with serious crimes like drug trafficking, conspiracy to commit the crime often carries the same penalties as the crime. The dark web is completely anonymous for the user, but this can mean you are communicating with someone equally anonymous who could be a federal agent. If you have merely discussed illegal activities with a federal agent you could be accused of conspiracy to commit a crime.
The anonymity of the dark web brings risks as well as protection. Many people who are accused of a serious crime aren’t aware of the role intention to commit the crime plays in the ability of the prosecutors to convict. Just by using anonymized communications over the dark web, prosecutors and the jury might be more inclined to believe that you intended to cover up illegal activities.
Do you need a lawyer for dark web crimes?
At Dhar Law, LLP, we are experienced Boston criminal law attorneys who have defended dozens of federal cases involving some of the most serious cyber crimes associated with the dark web. We are a modern, poised defense team who are in touch with the realities of the digital world in which serious crimes are often investigated. We are white collar defense attorneys who understand the complexities of crimes like fraud and identity theft, why and how you can be accused of a crime or conspiracy to commit the crime, and whether federal agents or state police have acted appropriately in gathering evidence against you. We have defended serious drug crimes involving drug trafficking, drug manufacture and possession of Class A drugs. We have defended many crimes involving serious weapons charges. Make no mistake, the district attorney for Suffolk County has initiated a crackdown on illegal weapons such as “Ghost Guns,” 3D printed guns that may be obtained through the dark web. And the US Attorney in Massachusetts and Law enforcement agents and prosecutors have the public’s blessing to crack down on crimes associated with the dark web. We believe everyone has the right to a fair trial and will tirelessly defend your case in court. Please contact us immediately if you have been accused of dark web crimes so we can put our experience to work for you and call us at (617) 880-6155.