DarkMarket, reportedly one of the biggest dark web marketplaces for drug dealing, selling counterfeit money, credit card details, anonymous SIM cards, and malware, has been taken down in a joint effort by Germany, Australia, Denmark, Moldova, Ukraine, the U.K., and the U.S.A with coordinating help from Europol.
Similar to how another dark web marketplace, AlphaBay, was taken down back in 2017, this operation also involved tracking down and arresting a site operator. Last weekend, the German Central Criminal Investigation Department arrested a 34-year-old Australian man, who was allegedly operating DarkMarket in the proximity of the German-Danish border.
Subsequently, on Monday, authorities moved in to seize and shut down over 20 DarkMarket servers in Moldova and Ukraine. However, according to The Guardian, the DarkMarket operation correlates with months-long investigation into web-hosting company Cyberbunker, which operated from a former NATO bunker in south-west Germany. The trial of three Germans, three Dutchmen, and a Bulgarian arrested back in September 2019 for allegedly starting illegal online activities in the area could have brought DarkMarket's operational information to light.
According to Europol, DarkMarket dealt with around 500,000 users of which more than 2,400 were sellers. Before being taken down, DarkMarket clocked over 320,000 transactions and involving the exchange of more than 4,650 Bitcoin and 12,800 Monero. As Europol reports, these transactions cumulatively amount to more than €140 million ($220 million).
This is not the first time that authorities have seized and shut down dark web marketplaces involved in crime and illegal activities. Back in 2017, AlphaBay was shut down by authorities. Earlier in 2013, the FBI shut down Silk Road, which had risen to become the biggest online marketplace for drugs, crime, and other illegal activities in just two years following its inception. The DarkMarket operation highlights the continued crackdown by authorities on illegal dark web marketplaces.