Wednesday 13 January 2021 10:40 am

Europol takes down dark web’s ‘largest illegal marketplace’

An illegal marketplace on the darkweb which boasted almost half a million users has been taken down in an international operation led by Europol. 

Darkmarket, which is said to be the world’s largest illegal darknet platform, had more than 2,400 people selling drugs, counterfeit money and anonymous sim cards to the sum of more than €140m. 

German authorities said they had arrested an Australian citizen believed to operate the marketplace near the German-Danish border. 

This “allowed officers to locate and close the marketplace, switch off the servers and seize the criminal infrastructure,” Europol said today. 

Among items seized were more than 20 servers in Moldova and Ukraine, which authorities said will give new leaders to further investigate those involved. 

At least 320,000 transactions were carried out on Darkmarket, with sellers using more than 4,650 bitcoin and 12,800 monero, two of the most popular cryptocurrencies. 

The takedown involved US agencies – DEA, FBI and IRS – along with police from Australia, Britain, Denmark, Switzerland, Ukraine and Moldova, with Europol playing a “coordinating role”. 

Authorities have started to crack down harder on dark web marketplaces in recent months with Europol claiming it is the end of the “golden age” of these platforms. 

In September police forces seized more than £5m in cash and crypto currencies, with some 179 people arrested across Europe and the US. 

“The golden age of dark web markets is slowly coming to an end as law enforcement tactics improve and agencies around the world work together,” said Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET.  

“The inherent link to cryptocurrencies makes the dark web a perfect breeding ground for nefarious trading, but there are no securities in place when transactions go wrong. This only helps criminals who can hide in the shadows without the risk of capture.”