Feds charge man they say worked for ‘darknet’ marketplace

ATLANTA (AP) — An Illinois man who federal prosecutors say worked as a spokesman for a “darknet” marketplace for illicit internet commerce has been charged in Atlanta.

Authorities say AlphaBay was the internet’s largest darknet site — trading in illegal drugs, firearms and counterfeit goods — before law enforcement took it down in July.

Prosecutors have charged 24-year-old Ronald L. Wheeler III of Streamwood, Illinois, with conspiracy to commit access device fraud. Wheeler, known online as Trappy and Trappy_Pandora, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in federal magistrate court in Atlanta.

Prosecutors say in a court filing that Wheeler began working as AlphaBay’s public relations specialist in May 2015 and worked with others to traffic in personal information, using it without authorization to obtain money, goods and services.