Incognito Market Owner Arrested After FBI Tracked Crypto Transactions

A Taiwanese national has been charged with running Incognito Market, a darknet drug bazaar, and arrested after authorities tracked the platform’s transactions.

The platform has transacted more than $100 million in crypto through selling illegal narcotics such as fentanyl.

Incognito Market Founder Arrested and Charged

On May 18, U.S. authorities arrested Rui-Siang Lin, 23, operating under the pseudonym “Pharoah,” at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. According to FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith, Lin ran Incognito Market for about four years, was in charge of its operations, including vendors, employees, and customers, and was the primary decision maker.

During this time, Lin gathered millions of dollars in personal profit, and Incognito Market grew to become one of the biggest online narcotics sales platforms. The platform facilitated the buying and selling of drugs such as prescription amphetamines like Adderall, MDMA, LSD, and cocaine using Monero and Bitcoin. In turn, Lin took a 5% cut of every sale as users channeled funds through the platform.

Lin is facing charges including one count of money laundering, one count of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, one count of narcotics conspiracy, and one count of conspiracy to sell misbranded and adulterated medication.

According to the FBI, they identified the Incognito Market owner by tracking crypto from the marketplace to an exchange account in his name. FBI task force officer Mark Rubens said the exchange provided Lin’s driver’s license, email, and phone number.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams stated on Monday, when Lin appeared in court, that the so-called “dark web” is not a sanctuary for individuals attempting to engage in unlawful activities.

Lin Faces Life Sentence

Incognito Market ceased operations in March after an exit scam left users unable to access their funds. Administrators then reportedly began demanding vendors to pay fees ranging from $100 to $20,000 based on their size to prevent their customer data from being publicly leaked.

Despite the allegations, Lin, who identifies as a crypto developer and enthusiast of privacy coin Monero, disclosed on X that he conducted a four-day workshop on cybercrime and cryptocurrency for 30 police officers at the Saint Lucia Police Academy in early April.

If convicted, Lin is looking at a mandatory life sentence on a criminal enterprise charge. Meanwhile, Ross Ulbricht, the individual behind the Silk Road darknet drug marketplace, faced similar charges and was convicted of the same crime. He received a life sentence in prison.

Notably, the narcotics conspiracy charge Lin faces carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum potential sentence of life imprisonment. The other two charges carry a combined maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

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Written by John Smith

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