2 min read

23-year-old alleged founder of dark web Incognito Market arrested after FBI tracks cryptocurrency payments


May 22, 2024

Promo Protect all your devices, without slowing them down.
Free 30-day trial
23-year-old alleged founder of dark web Incognito Market arrested after FBI tracks cryptocurrency payments

The United States Department of Justice has dealt a blow to dark web drug traffickers by arresting a man alleged to operate the dark web drugs marketplace Incognito Market.

According to a DOJ press release, the alleged operator of a darknet platform sold over $100 million worth of narcotics worldwide.

23-year-old Rui-Siang Lin (also known as "Pharoah" or "faro") was arrested on 18 May at New York's John F Kennedy airport and appeared in Manhattan federal court on Monday.

It is said that Lin ran Incognito Market, connecting sellers of narcotics like heroin, cocaine, LSD, and MDMA to buyers. According to the DOJ, he "had ultimate decision-making authority over every aspect of the multimillion-dollar operation."

Although Incognito Market did not sell narcotics directly, it provided a dark web platform connecting customers with vendors. The site earned 5% of every narcotic sold for its services.

Buying illegal drugs is dangerous, but investigators found that even prescription medication advertised as authentic on the site could not necessarily be trusted.  For instance, an undercover law enforcement agent bought tablets on Incognito Market in November 2023 that were supposed to be oxycodone, but were actually fentanyl.

Incognito Market was formed in October 2020, and has recently been the subject of more controversy than usual following claims that millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency may have been stolen from its users and a bizarre attempt to extort users in the site's dying days.

The FBI linked Lin to Incognito Market by tracing cryptocurrency transfers to a digital wallet. The cryptocurrency exchange hosting the wallet provided the FBI with Lin's identity documents, email address, and phone number.

“As alleged, Rui-Siang Lin operated a sophisticated and dangerous online narcotics marketplace through which he profited millions of dollars at the community’s expense,” said US Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “The dedicated prosecutors from the Southern District of New York and our law enforcement partners will pursue criminal actors regardless of whether they operate on street corners or in the dark corners of the internet. The so-called ‘dark web’ is not a safe haven for those who seek to break the law.”

If Lin is found guilty, he faces a mandatory life sentence for engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise; a maximum life sentence for narcotics conspiracy; a maximum 20 years in prison for money laundering; and a maximum five years in prison for conspiracy to sell adulterated and misbranded medication.




Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s.

View all posts

You might also like