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The Hunt for the Kingpin Behind AlphaBay, Part 3: Alpha Male



By March 2017, the always aggressive Fresno prosecutor Grant Rabenn was ready to charge Alexandre Cazes with running AlphaBay. But his more cautious colleague Paul Hemesath wanted more evidence. They were still busy filing subpoenas for not only Cazes’ cryptocurrency exchange accounts but all of his online activity, from email to banking, which had begun to coalesce into a portrait of Cazes’ entire digital existence. It was only in April that they found a new element of that life, one that revealed Cazes’ daily thoughts to them with a level of detail they had never believed possible.

Their investigation had led them to an online forum called Roosh V. The site, the team quickly learned, was a kind of hypermasculine, alpha-male, pickup-artist community, as well as a hive of misogyny, alt-right racism, and anti-LGBTQ bigotry. Founded by the blogger Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh in 2008, it had tens of thousands of registered users, men who coached each other on maximizing their sexual conquests and living an “alpha” lifestyle.

The Fresno team had found a curious individual on that forum. He had joined Roosh V in late 2014 and went by the name “Rawmeo.” The pseudonym appeared to be an allusion to his love of “rawdogging,” or unprotected sex. Rawmeo had written well over a thousand posts and achieved “True Player” status on the forum. He described himself as living large in Thailand, possessing a fortune in Bitcoin, and owning a web-hosting and design firm—all attributes that matched Cazes’ public persona. When the prosecutor team subpoenaed Cazes’ PayPal account, they confirmed it: Cazes, the baby-faced programmer, was using his account to pay for a premium subscription to Roosh V. Rawmeo, the alpha male, was another of his many personalities.

In some respects, Rawmeo was the opposite of Alpha02. As a dark-web kingpin, Alpha02 was all business: He had restricted his communications with AlphaBay’s community to the bare minimum, issuing only the occasional colorless pronouncement about the site’s functions. Rawmeo, by contrast, was a full-color, tell-all persona, an outlet for Cazes to enjoy the rewards of his larger-than-life success, stretch out his ego, and wax lyrical about his personal philosophy. As he put it: “The person who gives the least amount of fucks will always have the upper hand.”

Cazes, it turned out, was a prolific poster to a particular Roosh V section known as the “I-Just-Had-Sex” thread, where he described how he would frequently pick up Thai women—impressing them with his Lamborghini or Porsche— and attempt to sleep with them with as few strings attached as possible. He described the women as “his harem” or else “plates,” a reference to the common Roosh V analogy of a juggler who keeps as many plates spinning as possible, never giving any of them so much attention as to become distracted and let one fall.

Every Rawmeo post ended with his lengthy signature, which summed up his lifestyle and extolled the paradoxical virtues of promiscuity for men and virginity for women: “Living in Thailand, enjoying life, making money, not interested in Western woman, not giving a fuck about millennial problems, addicted to rawdogging. #NoHymenNoDiamond #PoppedCherryDontMarry #RealMenDontDateSingleMoms.”

Cazes, like many self-styled pickup artists, believed in a strict system of “sexual market value,” or SMV, that could be calculated to determine a man’s sexual fortunes. “The four pillars of SMV are Fame, Looks, Money, Game,” he wrote. “I’d say fame is #1.”

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