Authorities stop illicit commerce and DarkMarket

In a Europol-coordinated event, the world’s largest dark web marketplace, known as DarkMarket, has been dismantled. German authorities arrested a 34 year-old Australian man who is allegedly behind the dark website. Authorities have also seized 20 of the servers connected to the nefarious operations.

Prior to the takedown, DarkMarket hosted nearly 500,000 users. More than 320,000 transactions transpired across its network. Most of the transactions occurred via bitcoin or monero, which were considered largely untraceable forms of payment.

In addition to investigating the website’s operator, Europol has announced plans to investigate the buyers and sellers who frequented the site.

How much money changed hands on DarkMarket?

Governments getting more aggressive in taking down dark web

On the part of federal agencies, dark website takedowns have grown increasingly aggressive and sophisticated. In 2020, a European investigation led to the take down of sites like Empire Market. As governments have ramped up their efforts, cyber criminals have wound down some of their operations. Fear of prosecution is high and some operators are cutting their losses, taking the money and running.

In the case of the Alphabay marketplace, taken down in 2017, federal agents continued to make arrests for several years after. Dark web marketplace technology can no longer easily outpace law enforcement.

The coordinated approach by European Cybercrime Centre (EC3)

In a comprehensive, coordinated, international program EC2 is:

  • Sharing intelligence
  • Developing new tools and techniques to improve dark web investigations
  • Elevating its threat detection and target detection initiatives

The scale of EC3’s efforts reflect the organization’s commitment to tackle the use of the dark web as a façade for criminal activities.

For more on the removal of DarkMarket, visit The Verge.