Many people probably haven’t heard of Alexandre Cazes. The young Canadian was arrested under the suspicion of operating AlphaBay. AlphaBay was a darknet market, which reached huge popularity. Cazes later committed suicide in a Thai prison. Earlier this month the US District Court for the Eastern District of California finished the 14-month civil forfeiture case to seize his assets and property.
His suicide prevented him from standing in front of the court. Before AlphaBay’s shutdown by authorities, Cazes was presumed to have made a huge profit. The profit was largely made from selling illegal goods and services to the United States and overseas customers. After he got arrested, the charges included ID theft, trafficking, money laundering, fraud and racketeering.
In the very popular arrest video, the officials use a very interesting strategy to lure Cazes in arrest reach. In order to prevent him from wiping evidence, the Thai police take unique approach. They crash a squad car into the front gate of his mansion. By doing so he was unable to delete or encrypt all the evidence that connected him to the crimes.
The gathered evidence was more than enough for a huge amount of accusations. It included administrative AlphaBay accounts, files indentifying passwords for AlphaBay and the hosting services. Everything was on Cazes’ open laptop, which running on his bed shortly after his arrest.
AlphaBay was a very profitable business for Cazes
Later, the police found a file, which indicated that he had amassed a net worth of over $23 million. This included raw cash, many real estate holdings and multiple luxury vehicles. The luxury life was a result of the black market fortune of the 26-year-old. Most of the money came from commissions put on AlphaBay transactions.
AlphaBay did not accept traditional payment methods. This gave Cazes access to a huge amount of cryptocurrencies. He allegedly held more than 9$ million in crypto spread across 1.605.05 bitcoins, 8.309.27 ether, 3.691.98 zcash and other cryptos.
The gathered funds were moved into many shell companies and crypto exchanges. This effectively made the cryptocurrencies go undetected. Cazes also used “mixers” and “tumblers” to split and combine cryptos between multiple wallets. This made transaction history almost impossible to track.
The private keys and addresses of wallets were marked next to the cryptocurrency amounts. They were linked to bank accounts owned by Cazes and his wife Sunisa Thapsuwan. The bank accounts were registered in Switzerland, Thailand and the Caribbean. Using the accounts, Cazes and his wife were exchanging to collected cryptocurrencies into fiat.
The couple wasn’t exactly shy on using the newly acquired wealth. They spend $900 000 dollars on a Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 with a “TOR” license plate. A $81 000 Mini Cooper, $21 000 BMW motorcycle and a $290 000 Porsche Panamera were also purchased. As for real estate, they owned six beachfront vacation resorts overlooking the coasts of Thailand, St Philips South and Antigua and Barbuda.
The cars and real estate combined were valued at approximately $12 million. They were entered as claimants in the forfeiture against Cazes.
AlphaBay and Silk Road share many similarities, including the ending
Since it was created in the end of 2014, Alphabay was the most used commercial venue on the dark web. Lifetime users were around 400 000 and daily transactions reached a worth of over $800 000.
AlphaBay quickly managed to surpass even Silk Road. In fact, it reached around 10 times the size of its predecessor. Both websites were hosted on the dark web, which is an underground network of hidden communities. One can only gain access with TOR and I2P.
Many copy-paste websites like Silk Road and AlphaBay have emerged and managed to pull a huge amount of illicit goods and services in crypto. However, the success of these 2 websites can hardly be copied and they should be seen as a warning to everyone.
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