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Alleged Incognito darknet market operator arrested in New York

After allegedly exit-scamming and threatening users with extortion, Rui-Siang Lin – aka Pharoah – has been arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport.

user icon David Hollingworth
Tue, 21 May 2024
Incognito darknet market operator arrested in New York
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The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced the arrest of alleged darknet market kingpin Rui-Siang Lin, also known as Pharoah.

The 23-year-old Lin has been named as the owner and operator of the Incognito Market, a darknet marketplace where users could buy illegal narcotics online and have them shipped via post to their homes.

“Drug traffickers who think they can operate outside the law on the dark web are wrong,” said Attorney-General Merrick B. Garland in a DOJ statement.

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“As alleged, Rui-Siang Lin was the architect of Incognito, a $100 million dark web scheme to traffic deadly drugs to the United States and around the world. The long arm of the law extends to the dark web, and we will bring to justice those who try to hide their crimes there.”

Incognito formed in 2020 in the wake of the shutdown of another popular darknet marketplace, but it too closed its doors in March 2024 in an exit scam – users with cryptocurrency in their site wallets found them empty and were even threatened by the market owner with having their details made public if they did not pay up to $20,000.

According to his unsealed indictment, Lin emphatically told his erstwhile customers: “YES, THIS IS AN EXTORTION!!”

“As alleged, Rui-Siang Lin’s brazen operation resulted in the illicit sale of over US$100 million in narcotics, including those that were mislabeled and later found to include deadly fentanyl,” said Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York.

“The defendant’s greed and disregard for others was further demonstrated by his alleged extortion attempt during the platform’s final days. The El Dorado Task Force’s Darkweb and Cryptocurrency Task Force leverages cutting-edge techniques to target even the internet’s most savvy criminals. HSI New York, in coordination with law enforcement partners, remains resolute in its commitment to protecting the public from individuals utilising dangerous means to make a profit.”

If convicted, Lin faces multiple life sentences for his role in the operation.

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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