FBI: Teen Sold Bomb Threats Against Schools, Jewish Centers on the Dark Web
An Israeli arrested for sending more than 100 threatening messages was selling them for as little as $30, U.S. officials allege.
An Israeli teen accused of making more than 100 bomb threats to U.S. schools and Jewish community centers since January sold his bomb threat services on the dark web, where he offered to frame people for the threats, the FBI alleges.
Michael Kadar, 19, was arrested in Israel in March, under suspicion that he was behind a wave of bomb threats targeting U.S. institutions. When Israeli police raided the Kadar’s bedroom, they found a flash drive containing the teen’s personal records on his alleged bomb threats. Kadar wasn’t just making the threats for fun, U.S. officials allege in newly unsealed court documents: files allegedly revealed that he was running a bomb threat business on the dark web marketplace AlphaBay.
Beginning February 8, Kadar allegedly joined the dark web market AlphaBay under the username “Darknet_Legend.” Until its closure by U.S. authorities in July, AlphaBay was the world’s largest online market for illicit goods, which ranged from drugs to fake IDs to illegal services like bomb threats, which Kadar allegedly provided.
“I have saved email bomb threat texts when I email the bomb threat,” Kadar allegedly advertised in an AlphaBay post under the name Darknet_Legend. “If you request that I send the school a custom email text that you wrote then give me the bomb threat text that you wrote in the buyer notes and I will send the school the text you provided.”
The post offered refunds for unsuccessful bomb threats, and tiered pricing ranging from $30 for a single threat, to $90 for “emailed bomb threat to a school districts\multiple schools + framing someone for it”.
For this latter service, Darknet_Legend added a caveat: “there is a no guarantee that the police will question or arrest the framed person,” he wrote in the advertisement. “I just add the persons name to the email. In addition in my experience of doing bomb threats putting someones name in the emailed threat will reduce the chance of the threat being successful. But it’s up to you if you would like me to frame someone.”
On the afternoon of March 8, administrators at Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park, California received a pair of threatening emails.
“I'm concerning Rancho Cotate High School,” the first read. “My comrades successfully planted a few bombs at School. We have bombs hidden around the center. They are pipe bombs, hidden around the JCC. They will be detonated via lighter by my team. To top all that off, We have assault rifles and Machine pistols. The Children and Staff will be massacred mercilessly shortly.”
The second email was identical, except to correct for an apparent error: “JCC [Jewish community center]” was replaced with “school”.
Rancho Cotate is not affiliated with any Jewish community centers, and the quick correction made the email read like a form letter, which is exactly what it was, his alleged AlphaBay listing suggests.
Kadar didn’t need to issue a refund for the threat to Rancho Cotate High School, his AlphaBay reviews suggest.
“Amazing on time and on target,” a reviewer wrote on Darknet_Legend’s page, just hours after the high school was emptied for the bomb threat. “We got evacuated and got the day cut short.”
On the same day as the Rancho Cotate threat, the Jewish Community Center of Louisville received an almost identically worded threat. The following morning, the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. also received a similar email threat.
Kadar saved screenshots of all three emails in a flash drive recovered from his bedroom, the FBI alleges in court documents. The flash drive was divided into folders that allegedly documented months of threatening calls and emails dating back to January. The flash drive also allegedly included the username and password for the Darkweb_Legend Alphabay account, as well as others that predated it, including “TheMerchant,” “Player001,” and “Vendor_X”. The first two accounts allegedly sold hacked accounts, while Vendor_X dealt in fraudulent passports, the FBI alleges.
But the scheme soon caught up to Kadar. Although he advertised completely discreet bomb threats, he let his guard down at least once, when he forgot to route his internet activity through a proxy server, The Daily Beast previously reported. Israeli police were able to trace his IP to his home in Ashkelon, Israel, where they seized the flash drive from his bedroom.
And even if Kadar hadn’t slipped up, AlphaBay’s founder might have eventually made an incriminating mistake for him. The dark web market’s founder, 25-year-old Alexandre Cazes was captured in Thailand last month, after U.S. investigators realized he had accidentally left his personal email address in some of AlphaBay’s early sign-up emails. Cazes was found dead of apparent suicide in his Bangkok jail cell after his arrest in July.
Kadar’s parents have blamed their son’s legal troubles on his health problems: Kadar has a brain tumor and autism, which affect his behavior, his mother told NBC News after his March arrest.
“After the police were here, and when I understood what he did, I was shocked and horrified," she told NBC. “I thought it was done by someone who is anti-Semitic.”