One of the internet’s largest forums for criminal activity, has been seized and the man believed to be its operator has been arrested, European authorities announced Tuesday.
Until this week, the site DarkMarket boasted nearly half a million users, over 200,000 re-sellers, and was considered to be one of the most popular havens for criminals looking to digitally swap drugs, malware, stolen credit card data, and SIM cards, among other things. Authorities, led by German law enforcement, successfully co-opted the market’s infrastructure, confiscating over 20 servers in Ukraine and Moldova, where the operation was apparently located.
Officials have been mum on just who was arrested in connection with the darknet—referring to the man only as a 34-year-old “Australian national” who was apparently taken into custody by police somewhere near the German-Danish border, Barron’s reports. Prosecutors say a judge ordered him held pending formal charges, though further information hasn’t yet been given out.
The take-down was apparently part of a larger law enforcement initiative targeting darknet activity that began in 2019 with the takedown of the CyberBunker hosting service, Cyberscoop reports. CyberBunker, a web hosting provider based out of former NATO military bunkers in Germany and Holland, served as a subterranean home for servers hosting illicit or controversial sites like The Pirate Bay and WikiLeaks. At the time, the takedown led to arrests and a trial for a handful of defendants charged with peddling drugs, illicit information, and child sex abuse imagery.
Officials said Tuesday that the information gathered from the DarkMarket seizures would hopefully lead to further investigations.
“A shared commitment across the law enforcement community worldwide and a coordinated approach by law enforcement agencies have once again proved their effectiveness,” Europol said in a statement about this week’s operation. “The scale of the operation at Europol demonstrates the global commitment to tackling the use of the dark web as a means to commit crime.
From Another Source
he authorities in seven countries and Europol have jointly taken down Darkmarket, one of the largest darknet marketplaces. The action was taken after the marketplace’s alleged operator was arrested in Germany.
Authorities Shut Down Darkmarket
Europol announced Tuesday that darknet marketplace Darkmarket has been taken down. The announcement details:
Darkmarket, the world’s largest illegal marketplace on the dark web, has been taken offline in an international operation involving Germany, Australia, Denmark, Moldova, Ukraine, the United Kingdom (the National Crime Agency), and the USA (DEA, FBI, and IRS).
According to Europol, Darkmarket had almost 500,000 users and more than 2,400 sellers. It had over 320,000 transactions, with “more than 4,650 bitcoin and 12,800 monero transferred.”
“At the current rate, this corresponds to a sum of more than €140 million [$171 million],” Europol wrote. “The vendors on the marketplace mainly traded all kinds of drugs and sold counterfeit money, stolen or counterfeit credit card details, anonymous SIM cards and malware.”
Alleged Operator Arrested
Darkmarket’s alleged operator was arrested over the weekend by the Central Criminal Investigation Department in the German city of Oldenburg, near the German-Danish border.
Officers of the cybercrime unit of the Koblenz Public Prosecutor’s Office located and closed down the marketplace. They switched off the marketplace’s servers and seized “the criminal infrastructure – more than 20 servers in Moldova and Ukraine supported by the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA).” Europol added:
The stored data will give investigators new leads to further investigate moderators, sellers, and buyers.
Europol recently shut down another major darknet marketplace. In collaboration with Finnish Customs (Tulli), the authorities shut down the Sipulimarket darknet marketplace in December and seized its bitcoin