Europol has announced the shutdown of DarkMarket, the world’s largest illegal marketplace on the dark web, which housed more than 2,400 sellers and half a million users.
The dark web is home to many such criminal enterprises, but DarkMarket was the largest. The operation was already under investigation when German authorities captured an Australian citizen who is the enterprise’s alleged operator. Following that arrest, law enforcement dismantled the entire infrastructure in a matter of days.
“The investigation, which was led by the cybercrime unit of the Koblenz 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 supported by the German Federal Criminal Police office (BKA),” said Europol. “The stored data will give investigators new leads to further investigate moderators, sellers, and buyers.”
Numerous countries and agencies worldwide participated in the operation, including Germany, Australia, Denmark, Moldova, Ukraine, the UK (the National Crime Agency), and the US (DEA, FBI, and IRS).
In total, DarkMarket was home to over 320,000 transactions worth 4 650 bitcoin and 12 800 monero transferred, which corresponds to a sum of more than €140 million ($170 million.)
Places like the DarkMarketare often used to sell stolen information such as credentials, financial data, databases, zero-day vulnerabilities, and much more. Having such a large operation taken offline will eventually make the life of companies and regular users a little bit easier, at least for the short term.