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'Lavish' lifestyle of dark web drug dealer is over; Former student living in plush apartment now jailed.

Byline: EMILIA BONA ECHO Writer emilia.bona@trinitymirror.co.uk @EMILIABONAECHO

A JOHN Moores University dropout lived a "lavish" lifestyle funded by a $95m dark website where users secretly bought and sold drugs.

Thomas White, 24, was jailed for five years and four months over drug trafficking, money laundering and horrific child sex abuse images found on his laptop.

The former accounting student, who left his degree after one term, lived a lavish lifestyle despite having no legitimate source of income. White paid PS10,700 upfront to rent his plush apartment on Liverpool's city waterfront and spent tens of thousands on sophisticated computer equipment.

The self-taught computer whizz splashed out PS35,000 on computers and spent his nights gaming. Investigators also seized 50 bitcoins owned by White, which equate to around PS192,000.

John Williams of the Crown Prosecution Service said White "received an income that allowed lavish spending with no credible explanation".

But his lifestyle was funded by a dark web business that allowed users to anonymously buy and sell drugs, computer hacking tools and other illegal goods, using the digital currency bitcoin.

White was in fact 'Dread Pirate Roberts 2', a pseudonym under which he set up dark-web commerce site Silk Road 2. He was an administrator of the notorious Silk Road dark web space. Within a month of its shutdown he launched the new site. When the police raided White's home, one computer contained hundreds of child abuse images - which White intended to use to set up a secure site for paedophiles.

Despite being arrested in November 2014, the case has remained largely under wraps because of court reporting rules.

This meant White, under his own name as well as pseudonym The Cthulhu, was able to become a well-known privacy activist.

Investigators can't be sure how much money White made, but around $96m of goods were traded on Silk Road 2.0. from which he took between and 1 and 5% commission on each sale from the tens of thousands of users.

The National Crime Agency identified White by tracking parcels of drugs he ordered through the original Silk Road website.

Last month he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, money laundering and making 464 category A indecent images of children.

He was sentenced on April 12 at Liverpool Crown Court to five years and four months in prison.

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 21, 2019
Words:405
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