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Monday, 11 June 2018 06:14

Inside the workings of the dark web

Author:  smh.com.au

Source: This article was published smh.com.au - Contributed by Member: Corey Parker

"Bewildered" was how his lawyer described Dov Tenenboim when he was arrested on Thursday for allegedly masterminding a dark net drug syndicate from his Vaucluse unit.

The shock of the self-described "elite hacker" and "entrepreneur" who police allege was behind a complex scheme importing commercial quantities of cocaine, MDMA, and ketamine from Europe via the postal service's surprise might be the fear of anyone arrested for such a serious crime.

That the charges even involved conduct allegedly carried out on the dark web was itself unusual: the DarkWeb is supposed to be bulletproof, a mecca for types for whom anonymity is paramount.

While a scrambled IP address affords significant protection to users, there's no guarantee of an anonymous purchase.

"Feeling safer is actually one of the reasons that people say they buy drugs online. Both the buyers and sellers are not worried about violence, there's no potential for a Scarface moment," Swinburne University's Associate Professor James Martin told The Sun Herald.

He said the dark web was a mecca for drug dealers, scammers, and pedophiles.

Darknet users also feel safe from law enforcement. "With a traditional arrest, police bust people as they are handing over the cash for their drugs, there is sometimes a weapon too. On the darknet, none of those things are in the same place - the dealers, the buyers, the drugs and the weapons are all separately located. It's much more challenging for law enforcement."

After a five-month operation, police busted Tenenboim's alleged scheme.

Police allege that as well as being posted to Botany, Randwick, Darlinghurst, Vaucluse, Potts Point and Bondi, the drugs were mailed to addresses in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

Police will allege in court that the privately educated advertising worker imported the drugs to Australia through the mail, posting packages to different addresses across the country then distributed them to suppliers in 300g packages - worth up to $90,000 for a single package.

In dramatic scenes on Friday morning in the quiet Diamond Bay Road, Tenenboim was arrested outside his house before police in riot gear raided his apartment.

A diamond ring, $69,685, a USB with 35 bitcoins worth $350,000, mobile phones and computers were seized by police as investigations continue.

A police source on Friday night said that more arrests were likely to hit the Australia-wide syndicate.

“Police have cottoned onto one of the real weaknesses of the Dark Net, which is the postal system," said Dr. Martin."

From monitoring the Dark Net and talking to dealers, most of those located overseas are very happy to send drugs to Australia. That confidence is reflected in terms and conditions in their online stores - if your drugs are intercepted or don't arrive, they will offer a full money-back guarantee. Just like Uber or Air B&B, that customer feedback is how they do business."

"We know most consignments of illicit drugs coming into the country are not detected," he added.

Dr. Simon Walsh, national manager of specialist operations at the Australian Federal Police, told ABC's 7.30  show last year that the sheer volume of criminality on the dark web forces police to triage. "We're dealing with high volume offenses," Dr. Walsh said.

"So sometimes in that circumstance, it's really not practical, or possible to chase every single [item]."
A senior police source who has worked on a number of dark web drug investigations confirmed that like traditional street drug dealers, investigations into the dark web concentrate on the higher level offenders.

"We have the names and address of people who have bought the drugs from the dark web. We haven't historically pursued people for a gram of coke or a pill, although that could change," he warned.

Another Eastern Suburbs man, 33, who police will allege in court was a part of the Tenenboim’s alleged syndicate, was arrested last month and charged with two counts of commercial quantity drug supply and indictable quantity drug supply.

When Tenenboim appeared before Waverley Local Court on Friday, it was on more than 50 similar charges, plus a count of dealing with proceeds of crime and a charge of directing a criminal group.

Wearing a maroon T-shirt, he shifted from foot to foot in the dock as his lawyer Bill O'Brien asked for an anti-anxiety medication to be made available to him in prison. His fiancee Lisa Hester looked on unhappily.

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