DarkMarket , the largest store on the deep web, has been permanently closed in recent days. The platform had a total turnover of 140 million euros. An operation coordinated by Europool, involving the German police forces in collaboration with Austria, Denmark, Moldova, Ukraine, NCA and FBI, dismantled the site.
Deep web: what is a DarkMarket?
Dark markets are e-commerce completely similar to those we use every day, but the products on the market are completely illegal . Payments on the site are made through cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or monero.
The platform takes care of putting supply and demand in communication and manages transactions and communications between customer and seller by acting as an intermediary. The site allows the user to pay and then pays the money to the seller once the order is completed, and profits by keeping a percentage of payments.
These platforms are often located within decentralized and anonymous darknets created to protect human rights and freedom of expression. Unfortunately, these systems are sometimes the abusat for criminal purposes as in the case of the dark market.
Inside the platforms can be found on sale False documents, all kinds of drugs, stolen credit cards, anonymous SIM cards. A relatively recent phenomenon is the sale or rental of hacking products which for some years have been provided as a service. Cybercriminals provide a platform that their clients will use to carry out the actual attack, so they have less risk and leave far fewer traces.
Darkmarket: from Cyberbunker to the kidnapping operation
On September 27, the police seized a special datacenter called a "cyberbunker" . It was set up in a former NATO bunker, but a 59-year-old Dutch gentleman bought it in 2013. The facility, built between Germany and the Netherlands, housed servers and sold connectivity services. The company became infamous for offering web services to businesses and illegal sites such as online scams and child pornography. The police seized over 200 servers, hard drives, telephones, documents and a large sum of cash. This was the starting point of the new investigations that led to the location and seizure of "DarkMarket".
Following the new investigative leads, about 20 servers between Ukraine and Moldova used to conduct operations were seized . Law enforcement will continue to investigate to track down site staff, sellers and buyers. Meanwhile, the FBI has arrested a 34-year-old Australian suspected of owning the site. The criminal activity on the platform involved 500,000 users and 2,400 sellers . In 320,000 transactions 4,650 bitcoins and 12,800 monero were exchanged, for a total of 140 million euros.
The Phenomenon in the deep web
Despite the anonymous connections offered by darknets , operators still leave some traces . In fact, it is not the first time that illegal e-commerce have been seized and closed. The first kidnapping dates back to October 2013: SilkRoad, the most famous of the dark markets, is kidnapped by the FBI. Recently Europool also managed to close the Wall Street Market , one of the largest markets on the deep web.
But the illegal market scene is very diverse, and when one platform closes it doesn't take long for another to appear . Also in the deep web, then, there are scams: some platforms accept customer orders and do not pay suppliers. The site holds the monies until it closes, and users lose their payments. According to a recent survey, the covid-19 pandemic has further favored the sale of drugs online and the proliferation of markets.
Article by Dario Puligheddu