Law enforcement agencies from multiple countries have teamed up to take down what Europol is calling the “world's largest” illegal marketplace on the dark web. DarkMarket had almost 500,000 users when it was taken offline. It had over 2,400 sellers and hosted 320,000 transactions wherein US$171 million worth of cryptocurrency had changed hands. According to Europol’s announcement, vendors mainly used the marketplace to sell drugs, counterfeit money and credit card details, malware and anonymous SIM cards.
In addition to Europol, law enforcement agencies from Germany, Australia, Denmark, Moldova, Ukraine, the United Kingdom (the National Crime Agency) and the USA (DEA, FBI, and IRS) participated in the operation. Over the weekend, German authorities arrested an Australian citizen who’s allegedly the operator behind the marketplace near the German-Danish border. A German cybercrime unit’s findings also made it possible to shut down DarkMarket and to seize its servers (more than 20 of them) in Moldova and Ukraine. Authorities are expecting the data stored in those servers to lead them to the marketplace’s moderators, sellers and buyers.
The Telegraph reports that authorities stumbled upon DarkMarket while investigating Germany-based web-hosting service Cyberbunker. DarkMarket is but the latest dark web marketplace taken offline since the Silk Road bust back in 2015 — over the past few years, international law enforcement operations had also taken down AlphaBay and Wall Street Market, which were also used to sell drugs and other illicit goods.
DarkMarket: world's largest illegal dark web marketplace has been taken offline in an international operation involving 🇩🇪🇦🇺🇩🇰🇲🇩🇺🇦🇬🇧🇺🇸. #DarkMarket had 500 000 users, 2 400 sellers and 320 000 transactions. We supported the takedown with operational analysis and coordination. pic.twitter.com/6ALq59mIZi
— Europol (@Europol) January 12, 2021