Largest Illicit Dark Web Marketplace Seized
According to officials, DarkMarket, supposedly the world’s largest dark web marketplace, has been forced offline by a Europol-coordinated multinational operation, including Australia, Denmark, Moldova, Ukraine, US and the United Kingdom. Europol reported that the DarkMarket housed up to 500,000 and facilitated more than 320,000 transactions.
The Australian man who was suspected to be the founder of the illegal site has been detained by the Central Investigation Department in the German City of Oldenburg, and the 20 servers that hosted have been seized to declare an end to the hotbed of illegal activities. The dark web marketplace exchanged drugs, counterfeit money, as well as stolen card details and malware. According to an estimate by Europol, the site exchanged almost around EUR 40 million in cash according to the current currency rate, in a combination of over 4650 Bitcoin and 12,800 Monero. European authorities are thinking to use confiscated Ukranian and Moldovan DarkMarket servers to prosecute buyers and sellers who have used the site for illegal transactions.
The Guardian reported that DarkMarket’s illegal activities were unveiled due to a detailed investigation on the web hosting company- Cyberbunker.
Further information on Cyberbunker has been provided that it is situated in a previous NATO bunker, and in the past, facilitated servers for The Pirate Bay and WikiLeaks. It was said that if there is any instance of the DarkMarket scenario, it seems to be a crucial starting point for potential inquiries into other illegal sites.
During a European inquiry, another Dark Web marketplace named Wall Street market reached a similar end in 2020 and other market places such as Empire market have completely vanished. It might be out of fear of prosecution or the fact that operators had been cutting their losses and keeping the cash with them. As government agencies have become more active in tracking down these markets and more capable of knowing how they operate, whatever advantage sites such as Alphabay or the Silk Road had years ago, seems to have vanished.
- Europol has promoted the exchange of foreign knowledge.
- Established organizational technical support.
- Europol offered modern analytics to help German authorities recognize and monitor the suspected administrator.
- Assisted Germany in the organization of joint cross-border projects involving international partners.
Europol’s Dark Web team has included law enforcement authorities from outside and within the EU, as well as other related partners plus organizations such as Eurojust. It has been mentioned that Europol’s goal is to create a team for law enforcement approach that are able to deal with criminal activities on the site. The European Cybercrime Centre of Europol has set up a dedicated Dark Web team to collaborate with EU partners and law enforcement around the world to decrease the scale of the underground illicit economy, in order to achieve this initiative.
A complete, organized solution will be given by sharing information, offering organizational assistance and experience in various areas of crime, recognizing threats and targets, as well as developing strategies and techniques to conduct Dark Web surveys. The team has also aimed at reinforcing joint technological and investigate efforts, to coordinate training and capacity-building projects, along with campaigns to deter and raise awareness about the 360° strategy against crime on the Dark Web.
Europol has been supporting the 27 EU member states in their conflict against cybercrime, terrorism, and other serious criminal activities, which is located in Hague, Netherlands and has been operating with a number of non-EU partner states and international companies. To make Europe a safer place, the organization has obtained tools and resources as well as carried out different threat assessments during its intelligence gathering and operational activities.
By surprise once again, a mutual interest across the global law enforcement community and the team work strategy by law enforcement agencies have proven their efficacy.