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This article was published on November 12, 2019

Deepdotweb admin says $15.5M Bitcoin ‘kickback’ scheme didn’t exist

Tal Prihar claims that his website was merely an educational resource

Deepdotweb admin says $15.5M Bitcoin ‘kickback’ scheme didn’t exist

An arrested Deepdotweb admin has refuted claims that he’d earned 8,000 BTC (worth $15.5 million at the time) through an affiliate marketing scheme for dark web marketplaces, Bitcoin News reports.

Earlier this year, a co-ordinated police effort led to the arrest of several individuals around the world for their role in maintaining Deepdotweb, a dark web portal. It prominently featured an index of dark web marketplaces, including reviews.

It also hosted information related to Tor-hidden services, interviews with prominent dark web developers, and published news of police raids on illegal marketplaces, Bitcoin, and other privacy matters.

Among them were two Israeli citizens, who a US indictment alleges dark web marketplaces paid $15.5 million in Bitcoin via “kickback payments” for referring hundreds of thousands of buyers with affiliate links posted on Deepdotweb.

Deepdotweb arrest for posting ‘illegal’ links is ‘without precedent’

Tal Prihar is one of those men, now on remand in a French prison. He insists that Deepdotweb was merely a news site that allowed dark web users to make informed decisions. He also maintains that he’s the very first to be charged with crimes of supplying links to dark web markets.

Referring to a translated version of an interview in Hebrew, Bitcoin News quoted Prihar saying: “The site was used in general to warn of dangers, poisonings, thefts, and to refer to places we believed to be the least harmful to those who had already decided to use [drugs]. We did not recommend and did not push.”

“We never put up an advertised article to promote the use of one or another site, or any other illegal product […] I have no doubt that in the absence of [Deepdotweb], many more people would have died from online drug purchases,” said Prihar.

He also reportedly refuted allegations that he and alleged his business partner earned 8,000 BTC via “kickbacks.”

Admin says they earned money for legitimate marketing

Prihar maintained that the site earned money from legitimate marketing endeavours for Bitcoin gambling websites, cryptocurrency exchanges, and anonymous VPN software. He stated that the site never charged or agreed to bribes for site listings.

He even claimed to have paid tax on any money earned from the website, and that all of its revenue was deposited into a bank.

The site never sold a sponsored article. All the product (technological) reviews it provided were to support the product, and never for a fee,” said Prihar via a Google Translated version of the interview.

“Legal and illegal factors, and you won’t find one to tell you that we [advertised for money], [that we] did not agree to publish without money […]. And that’s why we were considered the world’s most trusted site in the field, and there’s no dispute about that,” he added.

You can read the full interview with Prihar here (in Hebrew).

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