On Thursday, the FBI indicted 30-year old Beauregard Wattigney, a Louisiana-based technician for ITT Technical Institute, on charges of wire fraud and trademark counterfeiting on the Dark Web marketplaces Silk Road and Silk Road 2. Wattigney is accused of being the online coupon kingpin known as ThePurpleLotus or TheGoldenLotus, who sold packages of coupons for virtually every consumer product imaginable including alcohol, cigarettes, cleaning supplies, beauty products, video games, and consumer electronics. The spoofed coupons—in most cases offering discounts just as effective as the real thing—were offered in packages that cost customers around $25 in bitcoin, but offered hundreds of dollars in total fraudulent discounts. Eventually he even sold a counterfeit coupon-making guide and access to a custom coupon-making fraud service.
The FBI accuses Wattigney of being responsible for more than $1 million total damages to the affected companies, which range from Sony to Crest to Kraft. But one fraud consultant who tracked Purple Lotus on the dark web for more than a year says the damage is likely far higher, in the tens of millions of dollars.
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