Fraud charges focus on ???Dark Web??? activities

For many in Louisiana, the term "Dark Web" has no relevance. The term is used to describe the portion of the Internet that allows users to conduct activities, often illegal in nature, without disclosing their identities. One of the most well-known sites that operate on the dark web is the Silk Road, an online marketplace that allows users to buy and sell goods and services, many of which were illegal. The recent arrest and federal fraud charges against one Louisiana man offers a peek inside this little-known corner of the online world.

The 30-year-old man is a resident of New Orleans, and authorities claim that he engaged in the sale of fraudulent print-at-home coupons on the Silk Road website. The account that presented the coupons for sale made use of various trademarks, such as those owned by RedPlum, Hopster and SmartSource. This gave the scheme the appearance of legitimacy.

It is unclear whether the online coupons were marketed as being legitimate, or if buyers were aware that they were fraudulent. However, authorities estimate that the total value of the fake coupons was nearly $1 million. Had they been redeemed at the businesses listed on the coupons, that money would have been lost.

The Silk Road website was shut down in 2013, and the creator of the site has been prosecuted and convicted for his role in promoting the sale of illegal drugs and services. In this case, it is unclear what led authorities to connect the Louisiana man with the online coupon fraud. He is charged with conspiracy to commit both wire fraud and trademark counterfeiting. As the case continues, readers will likely learn more about the darker side of the online world.

Source: thehill.com, "Louisiana man allegedly sold fake coupons on dark Web", Cory Bennett, May 28, 2015

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