On Sunday, Onur Kopçak, a 26-year old Turkish hacker was sentenced to 135 years for stealing 11 peoples credit card information and selling it to other cybercriminals. With the additional sentencing of 199 years from a 2013 conviction that includes access device fraud, identity fraud, website forgery and wire fraud—this young hacker has a sentence of 334 years and is currently incarcerated in the Osmaniye prison in in the southern Adana province,Turkey.
On the U.S. front: The face of the Darknet—31-years old Ross Ulbricht earned a life sentence last year without parole for running Silkroad, an anonymous black market for drugs. Next, take a look at 22-year old David Ray Camaz who received a 20 year prison sentence (on racketeering charges) for his involvement in an organized crime carding website. This young guy was entirely clueless that the Feds had infiltrated the cybercriminal operation during its infancy:
The target of the investigation was an organization that called itself “Carder.su.” Investigation of the Carder.su organization began in March 2007, after the United States Secret Service, operating in conjunction with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who participate in the Southwestern Identity Theft and Fraud Task Force (SWIFT), began investigating a pattern of credit and debit card fraud. A special agent initiated an undercover investigation called Open Market and assumed the identity as a member of the organization when it was in its infancy.
Using a technology like the DARPA-created search engine known as Memex (capable of crawling the Deepweb and Darknet)—It’s the type of search engine that government 3-letter acronyms and law enforcement agencies can customize and configure to accommodate their needs. According to Slash Gear: The goal of the Memex search engine is to perform deep traces, where clicking on just 5 links can yield 50 more related links. It can be used to create a visual representation of links across the country and even across the world, showing the relationships and even movement of certain websites.”
Whether it is three hops or two jumps—suffice it to say that there will be a 3-letter acronym that will appear at some point in your Darknet lifeline if your activities happen to materialize in a related link.
JC Torres perhaps sums it up best:
Memex might be a fascinating and powerful tool, but, like any other tool, it can be used for good or for ill. That same technology can very well be put to use to invade privacy and trace the flow of legitimate and private data. In the right hands, it can be a weapon to combat crime. But sometimes even governments aren’t the right hands.
In the past I’ve been down the Darknet observing experienced cybercriminals teaching you good OPSEC—some of you listen avidly, while many of you have been quite careless. Dependent upon which country you operate from, your life of freedom, drugs, or thievery could transition from good—to bad—to ugly, before the next sunrise.
Today you are free and laughing with your cybercriminal buddies about your latest hack or take, never considering tomorrow, or your future—where yesterday’s laughter could become a distant memory—like some slow-leaking faucet—confined and limited to an austere and inflexible environment—while you watch your life drip languidly before your eyes, as you ponder the freedom you once had against the cold steel bars of your new reality.
Think about it: your cell may be 6×10 feet—the size of an average bathroom. Your accommodations may include a poured concrete floor; concrete walls; a vertical rectangular window (18×6); a one-piece stainless steel toilet/sink and mirror; and a thin mat on a metal bunk. Wall and ceiling decor probably includes artistic splotches of dried up human body fluids, and not the type that you want to rub your hands on. Nothing in this new incarcerated world will ever prepare you for the brutality and loneliness that will shadow your new existence.
Though there is a bevy of cybercriminals offering to guide you through this labyrinth of adrenalin-pumping, ego-soaring, cacophony of illicit drugs, stolen information, and the wild, wild west of easy money—it is also a world where “easy money” could exact an incalculable price—the loss of your freedom.
Lets consider the Camaz case—what type of Darknet activities are you connected to? Is it anything that smacks of criminal organization involvement? Wriggling in data theft? You could be the next Camaz to earn a 20-year prison sentence if you participate in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization (RICO).
With governments and law enforcement agencies sharpening surveillance tools and employing formidable infiltration techniques—governments, law enforcement agencies, and others may be able to sniff your identity from beneath all those layers of anonymity (you think you have) sooner than you may think.
So, listen up now, before it is too late and I won’t have to say “I told you so,” or:
Going to prison is like dying with your eyes open —Bernard Kerik
The next segment of Darknet wannabe hackers may feature a 17-year old kid who seesaws between Darknet bad boy activities and ethical hacking.