The largest illegal marketplace on the dark web for selling drugs, counterfeit money and malware, DarkMarket, has been taken offline, in a major international operation, the EU’s law enforcement agency Europol said on Tuesday.
The law enforcement operation against DarkMarket involved security agencies from Germany, Australia, Denmark, Moldova, Ukraine and the UK, as well as the US, with Europol coordinating their actions and providing operational analysis.
In Germany, officers arrested a 34-year-old Australian man suspected of being the operator of the illegal marketplace. He was taken into custody near the country’s border with Denmark at the weekend. Further investigation led to the discovery of more than 20 servers in Moldova and Ukraine which had hosted DarkMarket, resulting in their seizure.
The data stored on the seized servers is expected to give the cybercrime units even more leads on moderators, sellers and buyers on the marketplace.
DarkMarket saw trade in illegal drugs, counterfeit money, stolen credit card details, anonymous SIM cards and malware, according to Europol, and boasted almost 500,000 users, including 2,400 vendors. Business conducted via cryptocurrencies on the platformer equaled some €140 million ($170 million), investigators said.
The marketplace borrowed its name from a cybercrime forum that also sold illegal items and was shut down by the FBI in 2008. Some 60 people were arrested back then, with its founder, Renukanth Subramaniam, who operated from London, being sentenced to nearly five years in prison.
Dark web content is stored on overlay networks and can only be accessed through anonymous communications software, such as Tor, requiring special configurations or authorization.
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