Arrests News

The Darknets Dumbest Market Admin: Incognito “Pharoah” Arrested

Incognito Admin Arrested
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A Taiwanese man was arrested on May 18 at John F. Kennedy Airport for allegedly operating Incognito Market. The darknet marketplace is responsible for over $100 million in illegal drug sales and extorting its user base even further after an exit scam. “Pharoah” could face life in prison for his involvement in narcotics conspiracy, money laundering, and selling adulterated medication.

Key Insights

  • A man by the name of Rui-Siang Lin, also known as “Pharoah,” is accused of operating Incognito Market.
  • Incognito Market was a darknet drug marketplace active from October 2020 to March 2024.
  • The marketplace facilitated over $100 million in illegal drug sales globally.
  • Lin was arrested on May 18 at John F. Kennedy Airport and will be presented in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willis.
  • Incognito Market facilitated the sale of drugs like cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin, LSD, MDMA, oxycodone, ketamine, and alprazolam.
  • Lin collected admission fees and a 5% commission from vendors on the marketplace.
  • An exit scam was planned just before Lin’s arrest, blocking withdrawals and extorting users.
  • Lin faces charges that could lead to life imprisonment alongside significant fines.

Rui-Siang Lin, a 23-year-old from Taiwan, was arrested on May 18 at the John F. Kennedy Airport by US law enforcement. Lin, operated under the pseudonym “Pharoah,” is accused of running Incognito Market, one of the largest darknet drug marketplaces around. This online drug pen held a huge amount that was estimated to have been over $100 million in illegal drug sales around the world.

Want a good look at the man behind the major scam… You won’t believe what he looks like, see the following Youtube Video!

The Incognito Market was active from October 2020 until it was shut down in March 2024 in a nasty way. It was a very well-built darknet marketplace that was pretty much available to use for anyone who had the Tor browser. It allowed users worldwide to purchase illegal drugs, which included some of the more harsh drugs like cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin, LSD, MDMA, oxycodone, ketamine, and alprazolam, hiding under its anonymity blanket. 

The marketplace featured a kind of user-friendly interface that had branding, advertising, and customer service making out as if it was a legitimate e-commerce site, which any normal person like you or me would make a purchase off of.

Lin’s Role and Operations of His Drug Ring

With his darknet name that he went by, “Pharoah,” Lin was apparently the brains behind the Incognito Market. He was overseeing all the different aspects of its operations, from watching over employees to managing the vendors and customers on his marketplace. 

“Drug traffickers who think they can operate outside the law on the dark web are wrong. As alleged, Rui-Siang Lin was the architect of Incognito, a $100 million dark web scheme to traffic deadly drugs to the United States and around the world. The long arm of the law extends to the dark web, and we will bring to justice those who try to hide their crimes there.”

Stated Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

Lin’s operation was also collecting what was called at the time “admission fees” from vendors and a crazy 5% commission on each transaction that went through his marketplace, making this criminal a millionaire. Incognito Market was using an internal cryptocurrency bank to run all the anonymous transactions between buyers and sellers, to keep it as safe as possible for both ends.

“Under the promise of anonymity, Lin’s alleged operation offered the purchase of lethal drugs and fraudulent prescription medication on a global scale. The FBI is committed to targeting and dismantling all criminal enterprises, especially those whose leaders distribute illegal substances on the dark web.”

Assistant Director in Charge James Smith of the FBI New York Field Office

Exit Scams and Extortion

incognito extortion

Just weeks before his arrest took place, Incognito Market’s administrators had played out an exit scam, which was to block users from withdrawing any Bitcoin and Monero and pushing them to deposit Ethereum (ETH) and DAI under false pretenses. 

It didn’t stop there. The exit scam was then followed by an extortion attempt, where Lin himself and his so-called “business partners” threatened to publish so very sensitive user data which included transaction details and chat records, and the only way out was to agree to the ransom orders made by the criminals. 

The ransom amounts ranged from only $100 all the way to a crazy amount of $20,000, which completely depended on the vendor’s transaction level, where the fees were doubling if they didn’t pay by April 1st.

The crazy exit scam then led to more allegations which included some claims that Incognito Market had purchased to try confuse and manipulate its users. Additionally, Dread’s head administrator who was known as Hugbunt3r, put it out there that Lin attempted to bribe him to remove any kind of posts concerning the scam from the Dread forum. This is what confirmed all the suspicions of Lin’s criminal operations on the darknet.

Law Enforcement Response and Future Implications

Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York commented, “The defendant’s greed and disregard for others was further demonstrated by his alleged extortion attempt during the platform’s final days. The El Dorado Task Force’s Darkweb and Cryptocurrency Task Force leverages cutting-edge techniques to target even the Internet’s most savvy criminals. HSI New York, in coordination with law enforcement partners, remains resolute in its commitment to protecting the public from individuals utilizing dangerous means to make a profit.”

Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino III of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s New York Division stated that, “Mr. Lin’s alleged actions of putting profits before public health were not only reckless and dangerous but unconscionable. We will continue to make sure those who hide behind a keyboard and use the dark web to profit off lives face justice.”

Lin is on his way to facing some really severe penalties if he is found guilty, which could possibly include a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison for engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, up to life in prison for narcotics conspiracy, 20 years, alone, for money laundering, and five years for conspiracy to sell adulterated and misbranded medication. This case just shows that when you play the game against good, good will always win. 

Warning To Vendors And Buyers

HugBunt3r Shares His Thoughts

As is always the case during a law enforcement seizure or market admin is arrested, users should be aware that Data may have been taken and its vital that you clean out anything that could trace back to you. If your “OpSec” was in check, there shouldn’t be a worry. Only ensure all your wallets are cleaned out and you no longer use them. This is a warning to Vendors, and buyers.

As one Dread user put it “Karma? Clear the houses, becareful no more information regarding the situation. Server was imaged on 2022, Everything after and before could and most likely is saved on the FBI harddrives.”