A Belgian court judge, last year, formally charged a 25-year-old computer programmer for running a million-dollar darknet operation from his family home. The 25-year-old—Stijn Victor, from Torhout, Belgium—ran a smooth network until a few simple mistakes caused his downfall. Shortly thereafter, hearings proceeded; the prosecution pushed for five years in prison, and the defense pushed for 300 hours of community service. The judge announced a sentencing hearing in late November, and neither party got what they wanted.
The judge, in early January, sentenced the entire group affiliated with Victor. However, the majority of the team played an insignificant role in the operation that allowed them to walk away fairly unscathed. Victor, on the other hand, lost almost everything. For the 1,878 traceable transactions Victor conducted over the darknet, the judge sentenced him to 40 months in prison. And, despite the defense’s argument that much of the bitcoin came legally and when bitcoins were of far less value—the judge ordered the forfeiture of 946 BTC. Depending on the day and time while at the cryptocurrency’s current peak, 946 BTC could equate from $750,000 – $1,000,000.
Victor’s ultimate downfall was that of the insufficient postage curse, shared by many ex-vendors. Instead of using safe return addresses, the 25-year-old opted to use those of local businesses in the region. In the end, officials revealed that six packages “returned to sender,” but one stood out both in the news and in the courtroom. Jos Denolf, a Torhout computer store owner, received six packages—all of which he immediately reported to the police.
The police opened an investigation and Victor slipped up and left a partial fingerprint on a box. A partial print might provide very few details for a first-time criminal, but Victor committed similar drug crimes in the past. The partial matched the prints in the system for Victor, and the remainder of the case came together as expected.
According to the police and relevant authorities, Victor’s operation involved five members, including himself. He ran the darknet marketplace account “Evilution.” Documents revealed that Victor bought amphetamines in large quantities and resold them under the “Evilution” monicker. The rest of the group—including his cousin—did the majority of the dirty work which included the occasional local delivery.
Incidentally, Dr. Xanax and Italian Mafia Brussels both faced similar downfalls. Dr. Xanax used a supplement shop’s address without the adequate amount of postage, resulting in the scenario played out above. In 2015, another vendor, also from Belgium, made a similar, if not an even more glaring mistake. He printed out images of example stamps from the internet and used them as if the faked stamps were genuine.
Two of Victor’s associates Jason DF and Wim V., received 150 and 200 hours of community service. The other two unnamed accomplices left the courtroom with no charges or criminal record of the event. Victor, in addition to the 40 months in prison, potentially faces 120 hours of community service.
Additionally, at the time of the arrest, Victor amassed 4,000 or more bitcoins. He turned 2,000 over to the prosecutor’s office as ordered. They then asked for the remaining 2,000 but Victor’s lawyer claimed the money originated from programming work, and there was no way to prove otherwise.