Cybercrime , Fraud Management & Cybercrime , Fraud Risk Management

Massive DarkMarket Underground Marketplace Taken Down

International Law Enforcement Effort Leads to Arrest of Alleged Operator
Massive DarkMarket Underground Marketplace Taken Down
A message posted on the DarkMarket's website says it's been seized. (Source: Europol)

A global law enforcement operation has taken down DarkMarket, which Europol describes as the world's largest underground marketplace of illegal goods on the dark web.

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Over the years, DarkMarket has generated about 140 million euros ($170.2 million) in revenue by selling drugs, malware, credit cards and more, according to Europol, which announced the takedown Tuesday.

As part of the police operation, Germany’s Central Criminal Investigation Department arrested a 34-year-old Australian alleged to have operated DarkMarket, Europol reports. Law enforcement officials also shuttered servers used to host the illicit market.

"The investigation, which was led by the cybercrime unit of the Koblenz [Germany] Public Prosecutor's Office, allowed officers to locate and close the marketplace, switch off the servers and seize the criminal infrastructure – more than 20 servers in Moldova and Ukraine," according to Europol, the EU's law enforcement intelligence agency.

Europol investigators believe the data stored on the seized servers will help law enforcement agencies find the market's moderators, sellers and buyers.

The operation also included law enforcement officials in Australia, Denmark, Moldova and Ukraine; the U.K. National Crime Agency; and the U.S. FBI, Internal Revenue Service and Drug Enforcement Administration, according to Europol, which acted as the coordinating agency.

A Huge Market

Europol estimates DarkMarket had more than 500,000 users, including 2,400 actively selling content, resulting in more than 320,000 transactions. These generated more than $170 million in revenue, with goods being paid for primarily using 4,650 bitcoin ($162.8 million) and 12,800 monero ($679,000).

"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," Europol says.

Other Police Actions

In another joint law enforcement operation in December, the FBI and Europol’s "Operation Nova" and took down three domains associated with the VPN known as Safe-Inet, which served as a bulletproof hosting service that enabled cybercriminals to conduct illegal operations, including ransomware attacks, while remaining hidden from police (see: Police Dismantle Cybercrime 'Bulletproof Hosting Service').

In September 2020, 179 arrests were made using information gleaned from earlier law enforcement actions against the Wall Street and AlphaBay darknet marketplaces (see: 179 Arrested in Darknet Market Crackdown).

About the Author

Doug Olenick

Doug Olenick

Former News Editor, ISMG

Olenick has covered the cybersecurity and computer technology sectors for more than 25 years. Prior to his stint as ISMG as news editor, Olenick was online editor for SC Media, where he covered every aspect of the cybersecurity industry and managed the brand's online presence. Earlier, he worked at TWICE - This Week in Consumer Electronics - for 15 years. He also has contributed to, TheStreet and Mainstreet.

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