The public spokesperson for the now defunct Dark Web marketplace AlphaBay has pleaded guilty conspiracy to commit access device fraud.
Ronald L. “Trappy” Wheeler, III plead guilty to the charges that were associated with his work with Alexandre Cazes “Alpha02 and Admin”, and others to commit access device fraud through the operation of Tor Dark Web marketplace AlphaBay, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office Northern District of Georgia. Wheeler's specific task was to provide AlphaBay users with tips on how to avoid detection by law enforcement when using illegal products bought on AlphaBay.
The Department of Justice detailed Wheeler's activities as handling all public relations activity for the illicit site to include moderating its Reddit subreddit, moderating the AlphaBay message board and forums, mediating sales disputes with customers, encouraging people to use the site and providing other non-technical assistance. For his actions he was paid in bitcoin.
Wheeler arraigned in November 2017 and AlphaBay was taken down in by an international police operation in July 2017.
“If people think the Dark Web gives them autonomy to operate illegally behind a cyber-curtain without the scrutiny of law enforcement, then Mr. Wheeler's plea is a stark reminder that we won't let that happen,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta.
Wheeler will be sentenced on May 24.