DeepDotWeb Admin Interview – Yesterday Israeli Newspaper Yediot interviewed one of the admins and owner of DeepDotWeb who is currently in French prison, Tal Freihar. Through the interview he claimed that DeepDotWeb is just an ordinary news site and nothing more. Interview is conducted through his Attorney Nick Kaufman. The original article is in Hebrew language. Here is the translated version of the full interview.
DeepDotWeb Admin Interview – The FBI are convinced that, now that Tal Prihar has finally been arrested, they have hit a huge blow on the Dark web. Prihar is accused of giving anyone who just wants to buy dangerous drugs, firearms, hacked credit cards and whatnot, as if it were Amazon or Ali Express, only of crystal meth and submachine guns. Along the way, he and his partners have made $ 15 million. But from his cell in prison, Prihar tells a completely different version: without me, all those clients – could even die.
District Attorney Scott Brady was particularly proud of this crackdown. “This is the most significant law enforcement activity to date in Darknet,” he stated emphatically. “This case marks the first seizure of the illicit markets infrastructure in which dangerous drugs are sold in Darknet.” The severe indictment filed by Plaintiff Brady in a Pennsylvania court outlined: one sophisticated site that allegedly became the central gateway to the dark web. The site, according to the indictment, provided links to some of Darknet’s biggest underground marketplaces, allowing anyone to buy relatively easily and safely, Heroin, Crystal, firearms, malware, hacked credit cards, and this is only a partial list. Come in, pay – and the package with the drugs or the gun is
already on your way. The indictment alleges that FBI covert agents through this venture were able to order, for example, 10 grams of crystal meth ($ 470), 3.5 grams of heroin ($ 82.38), 10 grams of coke ($ 480), two breached credit cards ( $ 37.80) and “ransom software” – which “locks” the attacked computer until its owner agrees to pay – at $ 82.38.
And there was something else about this gateway to Darknet – Israelis set up and managed. The senior of them, 38-year-old Tal Prihar, is currently awaiting extradition to the US in the Presence prison, one of France’s toughest detention facilities in a suburb of Paris. This week, in an exclusive 7-day interview, Prihar answers questions sent to him through his attorney, Nick Kaufman. For him, not only did he not commit any crime – but its opposite. He saved lives in general. “I don’t know that any specific crime was ever committed just because of something I listed or posted, on the contrary,” he claims. “Our goal was to prevent crimes against personal and economic freedoms and try to minimize bodily and mental harm. There was nothing in our information to convince or coerce people into doing something they did not intend to do, regardless of us, for better or worse.”
Yediot: But how will you react if it turns out, let’s say, that your way of buying guns is? Or a drug dealer used your site, and sold to a 14-year-old who died?
Freihar: “To be clear: we did not create the demand. Neither the guns nor the drugs. So if someone was going to buy a gun and kill people or buy drugs – he would do it regardless of us. We were just a middle filter, explaining how to use the markers” (The nickname for the illicit trade sites in Darcant – NIS), in general in a safe way, to warn of dangers, poisonings and thefts, and to refer to places that we believed would be the least harm to those who had already decided to use them. We did not recommend and did not push. We have never put up a sponsored advertisement or article to promote the use of any site or any illegal product or other.
“In today’s world, information is accessible to everyone. It’s just like WhatsApp, Telegram, Wicker, Signal or Messenger of Facebook, etc. – providing end-to-end encryption, and also providing anonymity to anyone who wants to keep it private from corporate or tyrannical regimes; but the same encryption Can also be used by drug traffickers, weapons, human trafficking and terrorists. There is nothing to do, this is how technology works today. I have no doubt that in
the absence of the site, many more people would have died from drugs they bought online. And by the way, in general there aren’t many: 99 percent of Darknet weapons sellers are undercover FBI agents, and those who think To try to buy a weapon there, ready to get arrested.”
For many years, the Darknet has been a global hub for drug trafficking, weapons, hardcore pornography and a link between criminal and terrorist organizations. Unlike the “open web” of the Internet – which includes all well-known WWW sites, social networks and more – DarkNet allows for almost completely anonymous activity, making it a particularly wild and dangerous place, dominated by hackers and underworld people. Browsing Darknet is through a unique browser (TOR) and typing in specific addresses (called Onion addresses). An inexperienced surfer who goes into Darknet will find it difficult to get online, and if he tries to buy drugs, weapons or porn
at “malls”, he may find he has been a victim of scams, snatched viruses, blackmail, whose credit number has been circulated, or at best his subsequent knock on the door of his house. . And that’s exactly where Tal Prihar and his partner, Michael Phan, 34, came into the picture: They set up a unique platform called DeepDotWeb, which became a “gateway” entry into “markets” in Darknet. DeepDotWeb included direct links to their trade sites, explanations, reviews and ratings. US lawmakers claim that through Prihar & Co.’s venture, almost anyone could enter Darknet’s illegal marketplaces, and then buy (and sell) everything there.
According to the indictment, all this was not done kindly: the “marketers” who received referrals from the site paid Prihar & Associates fees. The payment was transferred in Bitcoin, and the proceeds were estimated to be about $ 15.5 million.
Freihar: does not deny the establishment of the site, but makes a principled claim: Me? I just provided the link. What people have purchased or done through the site is no longer my responsibility. And if so, the other way around, he claims, his activity has prevented drug purchasers from acquiring poison or being robbed of being robbed online. “There is no single case in the world that anyone has been charged with committing the offense we are charged with,” Prihar answers to our questions from his prison in France. “And in the absence of such precedent, we never thought that if we did something, it would be considered an offense. We are marketing people overall.”
Yediot: Haven’t you had any moral issues with the site-attributed activity?
Freihar: “Moral issues with what exactly? Provide people with information designed to keep them up to date and more secure and educated about activities they might be undertaking? The site in its publications saved thousands of lives, preventing them from buying poisons from people who posted one thing and provided another. It saved tens of millions from people, Who knew which site not to turn to and who was going to steal their money. That way moral problems? Not at all. We were not a drug advertisement. We were a repository of information. “
He (Freihar) is 38, married and father of four, who studied and grew up in Maalot and Kfar Rosim. According to him, from childhood he was attracted to technology and engaged in “building, understanding, dismantling, assembling, developing, playing”. At the age of 20, after a shortened service (due to asthma) in the Ordnance Corps, he moved to England, where he discovered both the online world – and religion. After three years of strengthening, he returned to Israel, and very quickly became a type of local Internet marketing guru. He had a successful blog, he was interviewed in the professional press, lectured to an audience who wanted to know how to use this
thing – the internet – to sell, and what the hell was going on to make Google promote your site, not the competitor’s.
Yediot: So how was the idea of setting up an access site for Darknet?
Freihar: “As an Internet marketing person, I’ve always been looking for a niche that hasn’t yet been touched, and that has a chance of developing crazy. So, I set up a site, which I still didn’t decide what it was going to be: a jokes site? Memes? News? A blog? And I just started throwing different types of Content, when I market it on all kinds of relevant media. At the same time, I have been using analytics tools to determine which types of content are producing bigger buzz and traffic (networking and user traffic – NIS). And then came the revelation: started to come up with articles about the Darknet, and I saw that there was a demand for it.“
Yediot: This means?
Freihar: “People love darknet information? So we’ll bring them news from there. Initially, it was at the top level of posts from darknet forums, with the addition of a hand-blown headline. I found that not only did people respond to everything I wrote, but almost every week for my little experimental site It was quoted in huge media outlets such as CNN, Forbes, Wierd and Techcrunch. In fact, all the uniqueness of my scope was that I was the only one to download Tor software, I scoured forums in search of sensational posts and put them first. “
The next step was to create a user guide, a site that Prihar describes as “Darknet Tutorials Section.” Freihar: “I thought if they were buying in Darknet, they would need explanations: how to keep their security, how to get Bitcoin, what software to use to surf the net an recommendations on such services and others. I was on hand with what is interesting and what is driving traffic. The site has become the number one authority in the field of darkness, very simple, because no one has ever done the same.
“Establishing was the easy part. But turning a website into a traffic machine, it required investment, skills, and also being in the right place at the right time.
The site provided a list of active Darknet sites, ranked by users’ trust level and ranking, with live monitoring of their activity. The only source in the world with
a consensus, and the only place that publishers in Darknet turned to, to put their site in. Big, who’s not there – didn’t exist. Bottom line, the site was a marketing capability experiment that far exceeded expectations. There was also a challenge and the possibilities, openly this was a news site and information services.
Yediot: How did you become famous and who were the surfers?
Freihar: “We did not publish anything. We were a site that tracked and served everyone who had a particular interest in Darknet: curious, buying, selling, investigating, law enforcement – dozens of times information from the site starred in FBI presentations, Interpol, etc. – Communication, activists. About a million and more each month. Most people found the site on Google, others came through forums, social media or mention of the site on other sites. “
In the US indictment, things are described a little more bleakly. “The defendants have referred hundreds of thousands of users to the Markets who have made hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions, including the purchase of illegal drugs, such as fentanyl (a powerful analgesic – NMS), carfentanil (a drug so powerful that it is approved for veterinary use only). For example, elephant and horse anesthesia before surgery), cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, weapons, including assault rifles, viruses and computer hacking, stolen financial information and credit card numbers.”
For a while it worked great, and DeepDotWeb was the gateway to the Darknet for surfers all over the world. One of the biggest “markets” in Darknet was the Alpha Bay Market, which offered drugs, fake IDs, viruses, weapons, toxic chemicals and more. The site was closed by law enforcement in July 2017, but according to the indictment, by then nearly a quarter of the transactions it had generated were following the references from Freihar’s website. Another market, called “Hanza Market”, offered heroin, cooks, fraud and counterfeiting services and more. It was also closed in 2017, after the indictment reported that some 198,000 users were referred
to it from DeepDotWeb. The revenue, it is alleged, was transferred through fake companies to banks in Israel, Georgia and Latvia. FBI agents from Pennsylvania, who embarked on the venture, began to see how dozens of state residents order through the links provided by DeepDotWeb quantities of cocaine, crystal meth, ALD and more.
After the activities of undercover agents and a special police cyber unit called CODE – J, which was founded just for the purpose of operating in Darknet – the site was seized. “Sites like DeepDotWeb pose a global threat,” said Robert Jones, a special FBI agent in charge of the investigation. “The action should convey a message that we are following the operators of such dangerous sites.” The US prosecutor filed a serious indictment against Prihar and Phan, the main one being money laundering offenses.
The Americans have issued international arrest warrants against Phan and Prihar. Phan was arrested in Israel and released after six days. His lawyer, Yaron Barzilai, alleges that the indictment was inadvertently issued against him, so there is currently no extradition warrant. Prihar, who was then living in Brazil, jumped on a Passover to visit the country, and on his way back stopped for a connection at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Suddenly, four French policemen
handcuffed him to his wife and children, and he has been waiting for his extradition ever since. “I left my wife my wallet, I didn’t break up properly, and from there life ended as I knew them,” he says.
Yediot: Did you not know that you have a extradition order?
Freihar: “No. I knew an investigation was underway, I knew they were dealing with me on a server. Their interrogations were about the same as an elephant in a china shop. For about a year before the arrest, I was alerted by all sorts of factors that it was going to happen. But the truth is In general, to this day, I really don’t know – that we have committed any offense. The indictment is full of inaccuracies, lies, debasements and weighting of things beyond all proportion. All the same, I will refer to the expected legal process. “
Yediot: It is claimed that you received $ 15 million in commission money from any transaction made through you.
Freihar: “There was no such amount. The amounts listed there for the use of links to illegal sites are absolute lies. We only linked to those sites. And everything else is a productive imagination, which will become clear later. We did not sell or buy from us. People used the links that appeared with us to buy from the sites, And we are accused of having these purchases we received a commission. That’s the whole charge: one clause of money laundering conspiracy. Not selling drugs, no weapons, nothing. Anything else, it’s their explanation to prove the charges. “
Yediot: So what was your agreement with the dealers?
Freihar: “Contrary to claims, the site never charged or agreed to bribe for a site listing. The terms were purely technical and included security, reliability and damage mitigation parameters. We had no agreement with anyone. Our requirement was: meet minimum security standards, do not Try to steal, avoid selling material that could harm someone, be attentive to the comments and do not create unnecessary dramas. “
Yediot: And you didn’t cut a coupon from that? Was it heaven?
Freihar: “We were not marketing. We are marketing people who created projects to earn them satisfaction – and money too. The site did not exist for heaven. Not really. The charges against us refer to only about ten sites indexed, out of hundreds of other sites, which we did not claim to have derived from any coupon. It is undisputed that at least most of the index was “for heaven,” if you want to call it that. The site never sold a sponsored article. All of the (technological) product reviews it provided were to support the product, and never for a fee. Legal and illegal factors, and you won’t find one to tell you that we managed to get us to advertise for money something we did not agree to publish without money or other And that’s why we were considered the world’s most trusted site in the field, and there’s no dispute about that. “
Yediot: What did you do with all the money?
Freihar: “What money? The site has earned many very different and completely legal marketing channels: Bitcoin gambling websites, anonymous VPN software, Bitcoin exchanges, any legitimate revenue generated from this site or other sites we have entered into the bank. And paid full tax on it. The least I have left of all my income, which either the Americans intend to take, or have gone to lawyers. “
Yediot: It is alleged that you deposited some of the money in accounts abroad and in Israel.
Freihar: “Who claimed and where we claimed that we deposited something illegal in Israel? We have a company that has been operating in Israel for many years in the marketing field. Any income from it was deposited in Israel and taxed on it and everything is legal, we are not charged with any offense in Israel, and no account in our country is occupied.”
Yediot: One of the allegations is that DeepDotWeb also issued warnings against activities of various law enforcement agencies in Darknet. “The claim as if we have reported enforcement activity is a malicious distortion of reality, with the aim of blackening our faces and coloring us as outlaws,” Freihar argues…
Freihar: “The reality is that we reported it like every other cyber news site in the world reported when the source of the information was publications of the law enforcement agencies themselves. Did we add the headline ‘You should be careful’? – Obviously, but the attempt to draw us as if we held confidential intelligence about enforcement activities and made it public In order to disrupt lawmaker deals, it is simply a scam designed to blacken us, just wrong, period. “
Yediot: How did you actually get on?
Freihar: “Don’t know how they came up or what they came up with. Just the allegations. As far as the links are concerned – no need for a cyber commando team. The links appeared on the site for six years. The question is what happened now that they decided to drop us. From my impression, the trigger was a commercial site Contrary to the impression they were trying to create, this investigation had no sophistication to take pride in. Because we didn’t think there was an offense, nothing was hidden when they wanted to take us down. We just had to decide when. “
Yediot: FBI agents purchased drugs, etc., through your site.
Freihar: “The covert agent didn’t buy from me. He bought from sites I linked to. Unfortunately or not – that’s the truth.”
For six months Prihar has been detained in the Frances prison, a 40-minute drive from Paris. It is a prison facility with a chilling history: at the time of the Nazi occupation, many French resistance fighters and captured British intelligence personnel were imprisoned there. “The conditions are, to say the least,” says Prihar. “Most people are crammed into a room of 3 – 4.5 square meters. Three people 20 hours a day. My cell is decorated with many paintings and inscriptions of ISIS or Nazis condemning the Jews. The rooms are full of blood-sucking insects, and my whole body is full of bleeding bites, the yards are full of rats, and there are many cases of tuberculosis and disease here. I experience antisemitism here, lots of loneliness, sadness, concerns and concern for the family. When I was arrested, one of the policemen boasted: ‘We caught another Jew who took money’, this is about the recurring motive of the French to me and all the foreigners, like a
terrorist. Since I was arrested, no Israeli official has visited me. The only bright spot is the Chabad righteous who bring kosher food and Jewish activity with the exception of the Jews. Because cases of violence happen every half hour or so, the prison guards are stressing and therefore are closing us more. The feeling here is big sitting on a barrel of gunpowder just waiting to explode. The stress is unbearable. “
Yediot: What is your lesson from the affair?
Freihar: “I regret that over the years I took under my protection people who made a lot of money from working with me and Michael, just to turn our backs on us now. My lesson is that the law systems work together as a neighborhood bully, and that includes ignoring the rights of people and their children and building precedent cases, to serve their agendas. The only thing that scares me is staying with this lack of knowledge for a long time. It is very burdensome for sanity, so hopefully everything will end soon. “
DeepDotWeb Admin Interview ends here. The battle for Tal Freihar on the other hands is just started. We as a whole darknet community have to support and protest things like this. We, DeepWebMarketsReview will do our best to be and stay main alternative for DeepDotWeb.