Connect with us

Articles

Hirsute French hipster admits to being dark web drugs kingpin ‘Oxymonster’ in US court

Published

on

bearded French hipster jailed for 20 years

A bearded French hipster who was arrested when he travelled to the US to participate in a facial hair-growing competition is facing a lengthy prison sentence after he confessed to being dark web drug dealer “Oxymonster”.

Gal Vallerius, 36, who sports a distinctive long red beard, stands accused of selling illegal substances including cocaine, crack, fentanyl, methamphetamine, LSD, Ritalin and oxycodone to users all over the world on his Dream Market criminal ecommerce site.

Vallerius was arrested in August last year while he was on his way to the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Austin, but was arrested when he landed at Atlanta International Airport.

After his detention, US investigators discovered Bitcoins worth $500,000 on his laptop, along with his log-in credentials for Dream Market and the Tor browser, which is used to access hidden sites on the dark web.

On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to drug dealing and money laundering during a hearing at a federal court in Miami.

Vallerius confessed to originally using Dream Market as a vendor selling semisynthetic opioid oxycodone and central nervous system stimulant Ritalin under the nickname “OxyMonster”, but was then employed to act as an administrator and moderator for the illicit marketplace.

Prosecutors have suggested Vallerius be handed a 20-year jail term under a plea agreement they struck with him and his defence lawyers, but Judge Robert Scola will make a final decision on his fate at a sentencing hearing scheduled for 25 September.

Addressing the court to answer the judge’s questions, Vallerius said he was saddened by the fact he would not be able to stay in the US due to his convictions.

Vallerius was caught after undercover US investigators made multiple purchases of illegal drugs including methamphetamine, hydrocodone and LSD on Dream Market, which they had sent via airmail to various locations in the Miami region.

Police also examined Twitter and Instagram accounts run by Vallerius, finding that the writing style of “OxyMonster” on the Dream Market bore similarities to the writing style he used on social media accounts.

The Associated Press quotes court documents as saying: “Agents discovered many similarities in the use of words and punctuation, including: the word ‘cheers’, double exclamation marks, frequent use of quotation marks, and intermittent French posts.”

Once sentenced, Vallerius may be able to serve some of his jail term in Britain, France or Israel, as he is said to hold citizenship of all three countries.

Continue Reading

Articles

Major US hotel chains sued for failing to prevent sex trafficking in their rooms for decades

Published

on

US lawyers are suing 12 major hotel chains on behalf of women who claim the firms have profited from allowing sex trafficking and prostitution to take place in their properties.

In total, 13 women have accused hotel brands including Best Western and Hilton of failing to prevent sex trafficking from taking place in their rooms, alleging that the companies have made money from trafficked women and children being sexually exploited.

New York law firm Weitz & Luxenberg has filed litigation in a federal court in Columbus, Ohio, that brings together 13 separate lawsuits relating to hotels in a number of US cities, marking the first time the hospitality industry has faced such action.

Accusing the hotel firms of benefitting financially from the trafficking of women and children and “providing a marketplace for sex trafficking”, the suit alleges the companies have allowed sex trafficking to take place across their businesses for decades, and says it is time that they were held accountable for allowing the illicit trade to continue unchecked.

KOIN 6 News reports that one woman who claims she was forced by a pimp to sleep with as many as seven men every night is talking legal action against six hotel firms for the role they played in her abuse.

She is seeking $10 million in damages.

“Rather than taking timely and effective measures to thwart this epidemic, defendant hotels have instead chosen to ignore the open and obvious presence of sex trafficking on their properties, enjoying the profit from rooms rented for this explicit and apparent purpose,” the suit reads.

In a statement, Hilton Worldwide Holdings said: “Hilton condemns all forms of human trafficking, including for sexual exploitation. As signatories of the ECPAT [formerly End Child Prostitution and Trafficking] Code since 2011, we are fully committed, in each and every one of our markets, to protecting individuals from all forms of abuse and exploitation.”

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts said: “We condemn human trafficking in any form.”

Back in January, Marriott announced that it had provided 500,000 of its staff members with training on how to spot the signs that a guest might be a victim of human trafficking, and what they should do in the event they are faced with such a scenario.

Speaking at the time, David Rodriguez, Chief Global Human Resources Officer at Marriott International, said: “Hotels can unfortunately be unwilling venues for this unconscionable crime – and as a global hotel company that cares about human rights, we’re proud to be training hotel workers across the Marriott system to spot the signs.”

Continue Reading

Articles

UK charities warned to look out for social engineering spear phishing emails

Published

on

social engineering spear phishing emails

The UK’s Charity Commission has warned that scammers are impersonating charity workers via email and attempting to change employees’ bank details.

After receiving several reports of spear phishing campaigns targeting people who work at charitable organisations, the commission cautioned that fraudsters are using spoofed email addresses to pose as staff with authority to update employees’ banking information.

The fraudsters behind the social engineering scam typically write in their emails that they have changed their bank details or opened a new account.

Alan Bryce, head of development, counter fraud and cyber crime at the commission, said: “We know several charities have been targeted by this fraud and we want to ensure others are equipped to protect themselves.

“So, our message to charities is clear: read and understand our guidance on fraud, and check who’s sending an email whenever you receive a message about changes to staff bank details.”

In advice on how charities can protect themselves, the commission said organisations should review internal procedures regarding how employee details are amended and approved, and train staff not to click on links or open attachments in suspicious emails.

A report published by the commission to coincide with the UK’s Charity Fraud Awareness Week, which took place in October, revealed that over half of fraud carried out against charities is committed by perpetrators known to the organisation affected.

The study found that while over two-thirds of UK charities consider fraud to be a major risk, less than 9% offer fraud awareness training to their staff members.

More than half (58%) of charitable organisations surveyed for the study said they believe cyber crime poses a major threat to the sector.

In a separate report also published in October, the commission and the UK Fraud Advisory Panel revealed that one in every six major organisations that make up Britain’s £80 billion ($105.4 million). charity sector will be affected by cyber crime over the course of the next two years.

Twenty-two percent of charities said they believe that cyber crime is a greater risk to the sector than any other threat, with larger charities typically being more likely to appreciate the risk of cyber crime.

“This may be because larger charities generally have a greater capability to detect cyber crime,” the report concluded.

“Many small and medium sized charities are less aware of the cyber crime threat, yet are probably more at risk.”

Continue Reading

Articles

Hewlett Packard seizes counterfeit products worth $11 million in India as part of its global anti-fraud programme

Published

on

Hewlett Packard seizes counterfeit products

US technology giant Hewlett Packard (HP) has seized counterfeit products worth INR 80 Crores ($11.26 million) in India over the course of the past year as part of its global Anti-Counterfeiting and Fraud (ACF) programme.

Releasing information about the last 12 months of the campaign in India as part of its efforts to raise awareness of the extent of the piracy of printing supplies in the country, HP revealed that the Delhi-National Capital Region leads the nation in terms of seizure value, with confiscations worth 33.5 Crores taking place there over the past year.

Bangalore finished the year in second place with seizures of INR 22 Crores, followed by Mumbai and Chennai with 6.5 and INR 3.5 Crores, respectively.

HP worked with police across the country to carry out raids on more than 170 premises, resulting in the arrest of over 140 suspects and the seizure of completed and unfinished bogus cartridges, counterfeit packaging materials, and various sets of labels that were used during the manufacture of HP print supplies.

Noting in a statement that counterfeit print supplies can pose a significant business risk to companies that use them in the form of printer damage and associated downtime, HP said it works in close cooperation with law enforcement agencies the world over to crack down on counterfeiters that produce fake versions of its products.

Back in June, a survey commissioned by HP revealed that businesses around the world were at a greater risk of being sold fake printer supplies than ever before.

The poll, which was carried out on behalf of HP by market research firm Harris Interactive, found the availability of counterfeit printer products was being driven by an increasingly broad supplier ecosystem, a lack of certainty among buyers that their purchases were genuine, and an absence of awareness of the risks of using counterfeit goods.

The study showed that $3 billion is lost every year to counterfeit print products.

Speaking at the time, Glenn Jones, Director of HP’s ACF programme, commented: “Every one of the key market indicators we monitor show a significant increase in the risk of counterfeit print supplies.

“For companies like HP, counterfeits undermine decades of focused research and testing aimed at creating superior ink and toner, and reliable, high-quality cartridges for our customers.

“For users, fakes cause a significant increase in print failures, low page yield, poor print quality, leaks and clogs, in addition to voiding hardware warranties.”

Continue Reading

Newsletter

Sign up for our mailing list to receive updates and information on events

Social Widget

Latest articles

Press review

Follow us on Twitter

Trending

Shares