A dark web crypto millionaire who committed suicide in prison last summer is to have his assets seized by US authorities, following a ruling in a California court this week.
After 14 months of legal proceedings, the estate of Canadian national Alexandre Cazes will now be subject to a civil forfeiture order. Documents submitted to the court showed the 26 year old had assets worth $23 million, including cash, real estate and substantial cryptocurrency holdings.
Cazes was arrested last year at his mansion in Bangkok, after local authorities crashed a police car through his front gate, accompanied by officers from the FBI and the DEA in the US.
According to evidence submitted to the courts, this was designed to prevent Cazes from erasing evidence prior to his arrest on a litany of charges including fraud, identity theft and money laundering.
However, after being remanded to a Thai prison, Cazes was found hanging in his cell several days later. As a result, Cazes was never brought to trial for his alleged crimes.
The crimes concern his administrator-level involvement in dark web marketplace AlphaBay, where users exchange often illegal goods and services for payment in anonymous cryptocurrencies.
Cazes was also alleged to have used ‘mixers’ and ‘tumblers’ to obscure transaction details and obfuscate the source and destination of transactions processed through the platform.
Several vehicles were seized from his estate, including a $900,000 Lamborghini with ‘TOR’ on the registration plate – a reference to the anonymous web browser of the same name. Investigators also found a Porsche Panamera worth around $300,000, as well as title to six beachside vacation resorts around the world.
Since it was launched in 2014, AlphaBay had grown to become the busiest of the dark web marketplaces, with some 400,000 users at its peak. At one stage, the site had grown to be as much as ten times the size of Silk Road, the notorious earlier dark web marketplace that cost founder Ross Ulbricht his liberty, courtesy of a double-life and 40 years prison sentence.
However, despite the best attempts of law enforcement, a number of other similar sites have since appeared on the dark web, effectively cloning the model and creating a new generation of would-be dark web entrepreneurs.