The OxyMonster has been caught
The world wide web is arguably one of the biggest man-made resources available. It connects people across countries and oceans, making the world seem a little smaller.
As amazing as the internet is, it isn’t always used for good. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of illegal activities or deals done over the internet regularly. The dark web is hard to police, but not so hard that it’s impossible to catch a big virtual criminal, especially if he or she decides to enter a highly-publicized competition.
Gal Vallerius spent his days dealing drugs on Dream Market and traveling the world to enter beard competitions. Considering the highly-illegal nature of his work, he should have stayed home and off social media to avoid detection.
Gal Vallerius has been operating on the dark web for years, but no one knew his real identity. It turns out he was the mysterious administrator of Dream Market, an online drug and contraband market. Users bought and sold stolen identity information, narcotics, and other highly-illegal goods.
Gal operated Dream Market under the name “OxyMonster,” selling OxyContin and Ritalin to people on the site. For his crimes, multiple agencies had been investigating him since February 2016. The Drug Enforcement Agency went so far as to purchase meth, acid, and painkillers from him and other users in order to track them to their real-world locations.
“OxyMonster knowingly participated in the Dream Market conspiracy not only as a vendor, but also in a leadership and organizational role as a senior moderator and administrator,” say public court documents.
Gal got caught
To find his real identity, investigators tracked his numerous BitCoin transactions. As expected, some of the virtual money went into “wallets” associated with his real name.
Once officials had his name, they did what any average person can do: followed his social media habits. They discovered that the way OxyMonster wrote on Dream Market was the same way Gal wrote on Instagram and Twitter, using the word “cheers” regularly, for example.
When Gal bragged about being entered into the World Beard and Moustache Championships, investigators knew they had to make their move. As soon as he landed at the Atlanta International Airport from France on August 31, he was arrested. The feds checked his laptop to confirm that he was OxyMonster, then they hauled him off to jail.
Founder of the Austin Facial Hair Club and host of this year’s competition Bryan Nelson — who knew Gal from Beard Wars, an app where users bet “chips” on who’s got the better beard — was shocked about the high-profile arrest. Bryan and his friend MJ Johnson were always ranked near the top on Beard Wars until a mysterious figure named Barba started amassing far more “chips” than anyone else. MJ said, “You could see false accounts were getting created to make bets.”
Barba stopped winning as soon as Gal got arrested. MJ later said, “As soon as I saw the story and saw he was a computer guy it all made sense. He always seemed like a fun, carefree person.”
Gal admitted to being OxyMonster in a court hearing in Atlanta, and he will be extradited to Miami where the initial complaint against him was filed. He faces life in prison for his crimes on Dream Market.
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