Nearly four years after the lights went out on AlphaBay, the feds are still charging people for criminal activities linked to the dark web market. On Friday, the SEC and the Department of Justice announced charges against Apostolos Trovias, a Greek citizen whom they claim to have posted on dark web markets using the nickname “The Bull”.
But unlike drug dealers who targeted past actions, authorities claimed that Trovias used dark web forums as a way of trolling people willing to buy or sell insider trading information while hiding behind “software anonymization”
On AlphaBay and other dark sites like Dream Market or Nightmare Market, the indictment alleges that Trovias offered and eventually sold stock tips. However, as the complaint describes (PDF), his clients included at least one IRS agent and one FBI agent working undercover. In 2017, the document claims that Trovias provided the IRS agent with pre-release information from earnings releases at least twice in return for Bitcoin. The information came from quarterly earnings reports for Illumina and Analogic, although the documents show that Trovias mixed some of the data in one of the reports.
Between in or around December 2016, when he signed up for the site, and in or around July 2017, when AlphaBay ceased to operate, APOSTOLOS TROVIAS, a / k / a “The Bull”, offered the defendant, for sale in i.a. places, the category “Fraud> Other> Other” on AlphaBay, stock tips based on non-public inside information about certain issuers and which could be purchased individually, weekly or monthly at prices ranging from approx. $ 29.95 pr. tips for approx. $ 329.95 for a monthly subscription for tips based on non-public internal information.
6. Between or around December 2016, when APOSTOLOS TROVIAS, a / k / a “The Bull”, sued, registered his account, and in or around July 2017, when AlphaBay ceased to operate, TROVIAS completed the sale of dozens of individual tips, approximately three weekly plans and approximately three monthly plans for a total of approximately 45 transactions through the AlphaBay Marketplace.
Also in or around 2017, APOSTOLOS TROVIAS, a / k / a “The Bull”, offered the defendant for sale and sold, among other things, confidential information belonging to various securities issuers for approx. $ 5,000 in Bitcoin, at least one earnings report before release from a listed company.
As recently as 2020, executives claim that Trovias was trying to build his own dark website, probably because the marketplaces he used were shut down. The SEC and DOJ documents do not mention taking the man into custody. However, PCMag.com points to a May 27 document pursuing extradition after he was arrested in Peru. The DOJ has charged him with counting securities fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, as well as a count of money laundering with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.