I recently spoke about the dark web and its intricacies in one of my blogs. In that blog I explained what exactly the dark web is and how prevalent and hard to track it is. And although it is an incredibly difficult sector of the Internet to track, every now and then, there is the occasional breakthrough.
One of the black market’s largest players was recently brought to an end. AlphaBay was the dark web’s largest distributor of illegal goods. In layman’s terms, AlphaBay was an online black market where users had access to any illegal item they could think of. Heroin, marijuana, meth and even digital hacking tools like ATM skimmers were all available through the service. It was an incredibly lucrative organization, and the authorities were eager to shut it down.
For two years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was hot on the trails of AlphaBay. Undercover officers were purchasing a bevy of illegal goods the entire time, building up a strong case against the site. Unfortunately, the organization’s founder, Alexandre Cazes, was an incredibly intelligent hacker and was very savvy with technology; because of his skill, Cazes was able to mask his IP address, making it incredibly difficult for authorities to pinpoint who he was. It seemed as though Cazes was untouchable. Through the site, Cazes was able to afford expensive houses and exotic vehicles; he was living a life of luxury. But one single mistake led to the site’s demise: Cazes’ email address.
Late last year, investigators discovered that Alexandre’s personal email account was being used in AlphaBay’s header. Not long after, investigators realized that Cazes’ email was linked to his PayPal account. From there, authorities were able to confirm his identity and capture him.
Alexandre Cazes was arrested in July of 2017. Unfortunately, Cazes was found dead in his jail cell soon after his arrest. Although Cazes’ personal demise are not preferred, the ending of AlphaBay was a major success.
It just goes to show that even the best criminals in the world will all slip up at some point.