Federal Prosecutors Charge Two Men for Running Darknet Marketplace Empire Market

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Two men charged for operating Empire Market, a darknet marketplace
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Federal prosecutors in Illinois have charged two individuals for their alleged involvement in operating Empire Market, a notorious darknet marketplace. According to court documents filed on Friday, Thomas Pavey, 38, from Florida, and Raheim Hamilton, 28, from Virginia, ran Empire Market from 2018 to 2020.

Empire Market Facilitated $430 Million in Transactions

Prosecutors allege that during its operation, Empire Market enabled transactions worth $430 million, allowing users to anonymously purchase illegal goods and services. The Department of Justice (DOJ) released a statement on Thursday detailing the illicit activities conducted on the marketplace.

Exclusive Use of Cryptocurrency

Empire Market exclusively accepted cryptocurrency as payment for the sale of drugs and stolen credit card information. The marketplace ceased operations in August 2020. Pavey and Hamilton were already in custody for separate charges related to selling counterfeit currency on AlphaBay, another darknet market shut down in 2017.

New Charges and Potential Life Sentences

The recent charges against Pavey and Hamilton include conspiracy to engage in drug trafficking, computer fraud, access device fraud, counterfeiting, and money laundering. According to the DOJ, these charges are punishable by a maximum sentence of life in federal prison.

Seizure of Assets

During the investigation, law enforcement authorities seized $75 million in cryptocurrency, along with undisclosed amounts of cash and precious metals. The arraignments for Pavey and Hamilton have yet to be scheduled.

Ongoing Law Enforcement Efforts

The charges against the operators of Empire Market underscore the ongoing efforts of law enforcement agencies to combat illegal activities on the darknet.

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Crypto Hack Losses Decline in April

In related news, the cryptocurrency industry experienced a significant decrease in losses from hacks and scams in April. The month recorded the lowest combined losses since 2021, with approximately $25.7 million lost to exploits, hacks, and scams. Flash loan attacks accounted for $129,000 in losses, with the largest incident causing $55,000 in damages. This marked the lowest incidence of flash loan attacks since February 2022, and $4.3 million was lost to exit scams.

Quarterly Trends in Crypto Hacks

The first quarter of this year saw $336 million lost to Web3 hackers and fraud, with nearly half of the capital stolen in January alone. This represents a 23% decrease compared to the first quarter of 2023. Additionally, $73,885,000 has been recovered from stolen Web3 capital in seven specific incidents.

These trends reflect the ongoing challenges and responses within the cryptocurrency sector regarding security and fraud prevention.

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