Marketplaces on the dark web sell all manner of illegal goods and services. The anonymity of the Tor browser allows for people around the globe to sell stolen goods, illegal drugs, and now even allows users to order in bomb threats.
The most popular of these marketplaces was Alphabay. At three times the size of the original Silk Road market, Alphabay was the go-to site for users looking to pick up a stolen credit card or score a hassle-free bag of marijuana. One user capitalized on this service by offering to sell users emailed or phoned in bomb threats to schools and various other organizations, complete with a money back guarantee.
Although the website had been seized as recently as July 2017, even before the seizure officials were honing in on the site’s vendors. While the service is believed to be mostly anonymous, both the FBI and other investigative agencies have found ways to circumvent the protocol, allowing them to track users and charge them for their online activities. That was how multinational agencies were able to track the bomb hoax service to Israel where they arrested Michael Ron David Kadar as the operator of the vendor account.
In a statement from the DOJ about Kadar’s arrest, it is alleged that between January 4, 2017, and March 7, 2017, “… Kadar made multiple threatening calls involving bomb threats and active shooter threats to numerous Jewish Community Centers throughout Florida. Although no actual explosives were found, many of the calls resulted in the temporary closure and evacuation or lockdown of the targeted facilities, and required law enforcement and emergency personnel to respond and clear the area.”
The allegations against Kadar continue to state that although Kadar is Jewish, himself, the bomb hoaxes on the Jewish Community Centers in not only Florida but centers in both Canada and Australia invoked a sense of fear within the Jewish community. These acts not only disrupted day-to-day operations of these centers but instilled the idea that antisemitism was on the rise.
Reuters reports that Jewish Centers were not the only target of Kadar’s service. It’s been alleged that Kadar had been involved in at least 240 different hoaxes, most of which targeted schools in multiple countries. These hoaxes forced thousands of students to be evacuated from school grounds while officials investigated the claims.
While there appears to be no clear motive behind the service other than sheer profit, investigators say that Kadar was particularly sophisticated in his means of concealing his identity. Voice alteration, use of proxy IP addresses, digital currencies, and caller ID spoofing were all used in order to protect not only Kadar’s identity but his physical location as well. In spite of his efforts, officials were able to trace the hoaxes back to Kadar through his Google Voice numbers.
Kadar is currently being charged with 31 counts related to making threatening phone calls and providing false information to the police. This list of charges could potentially grow longer if other countries decide to prosecute.