Michael Richo, a 37-year-old man from the US, has recently seen sentenced to one year and one day in prison for fraud in connection to a bitcoin phishing scheme he was allegedly running, designed to rob victims of their crypto holdings.
According to The Next Web, Richo was also ordered to forfeit $352,000 in cash, various computers and other electronic devices, and coins and metals he purchased with the bitcoin he stole from his victims.
Per court documents associated with Richo’s case, he will be subject to three years of supervised release once he’s out of prison. His operation involved targeting individuals on the dark web using marketplaces.
Richo reportedly posted fake links to dark web marketplaces on forums. Once users clicked on these links they would be taken to a fake login page, which would look similar to that of the real marketplace. Once the victim entered his credentials, the hacker would steam them.
From that point on, Richo would monitor his victims’ bitcoin balances on the real marketplace, to withdraw any deposited BTC. He would then either deposit the funds directly to his bitcoin wallet, or sell them on cryptocurrency exchanges for US dollars.
The bitcoin phisher reportedly managed to steal over $365,000 from its victims, and was caught with 10,000 stolen usernames and passwords on his computer. Notably, as CryptoGlobe covered, the total number of bitcoin transactions on darknet markets doubled last year, according to Chainalysis.
Authorities have been known to track down dark web marketplace users who buy and sell illicit goods or services. One case dating back to June of last year saw police track down a popular vendor through his bitcoin transactions.
Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced a dark web investigation saw it seize over $4.5 million worth of cryptocurrency from criminals. The operation, led by members of the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE), led to the closure of 50 dark web accounts.