Australian arrested in Germany over world's largest darknet market


Staff member
A German-led police sting has taken down the “world’s largest” darknet marketplace, whose Australian alleged operator used it to facilitate the sale of drugs, stolen credit card data and malware, prosecutors said Tuesday.
At the time of its closure, DarkMarket had nearly 500,000 users and more than 2,400 vendors worldwide, as the coronavirus pandemic leads much of the street trade in narcotics to go online.

Police in the northern city of Oldenburg “were able to arrest the alleged operator of the suspected world’s largest illegal marketplace on the darknet, the DarkMarket, at the weekend,” prosecutors said in a statement.
“Investigators were able to shut down the marketplace and turn off the server on Monday,” they added, calling it the culmination of a months-long international law enforcement operation.
A total of at least 320,000 transactions were carried out via the marketplace, with more than 4,650 bitcoin and 12,800 monero – two of the most common cryptocurrencies – changing hands, prosecutors said.
At current exchange rates, that represented turnover valued at €140m (A$220m).
The marketplace offered for sale “all kinds of drugs” as well as “counterfeit money, stolen and fake credit card data, anonymous Sim cards, malware and much more”.
A 34-year-old Australian national believed to be the DarkMarket operator was arrested near the German-Danish border, just as more than 20 servers it used in Moldova and Ukraine were seized.
“Investigators expect to use the data saved there to launch new probes against the moderators, sellers and buyers of the marketplace,” prosecutors said.
The prime suspect was brought before a judge but declined to speak. He was placed in pre-trial detention.
The American FBI, DEA narcotics law enforcement division and IRS tax authority took part in the probe along with police from Australia, Britain, Denmark, Switzerland, Ukraine and Moldova.
Europol, Europe’s police agency, played a “coordinating role”.
The German prosecutors said DarkMarket came to light in the course of major investigation against the web-hosting service Cyberbunker, located in a former Nato bunker in south-western Germany.
Three Dutchmen, three Germans and a Bulgarian are believed to have provided the infrastructure for illegal online activities before they were arrested in September 2019. They have been on trial since last October in the German city of Trier.
The secret “darknet“ includes websites that can be accessed only with specific software or authorisations, ensuring anonymity for users.
They have faced increased pressure from international law enforcement in recent months.
The EU narcotics agency sounded the alarm in September that the pandemic was failing to disrupt drug smugglers and dealers, as users and sellers were using the web for their supply.
While street dealing had been affected by restrictions during the height of the pandemic, it said consumers and dealers had been turning to online “darknet” markets, social media and home delivery.
Also in September, a global police sting netted 179 vendors involved in selling opioids, methamphetamine and other illegal goods on the internet underground, in what Europol officials said at the time put an end to the “golden age” of dark web markets.
Some 121 suspects were arrested in the US, followed by 42 in Germany, eight in the Netherlands, four in Britain, three in Austria, and one in Sweden.
That so-called Operation DisrupTor followed a law agency shutdown in May 2019 of the Wall Street Market, the second-largest dark web exchange, which had more than 1.1 million users and 5,400 vendors.
Australian man arrested in Germany over 'world's largest' darknet marketplace


Staff member
DarkMarket: world's largest illegal dark web marketplace taken down

DarkMarket: world's largest illegal dark web marketplace taken down​

12 January 2021
Press Release

DarkMarket, the world's largest illegal marketplace on the dark web, has been taken offline in an international operation involving Germany, Australia, Denmark, Moldova, Ukraine, the United Kingdom (the National Crime Agency), and the USA (DEA, FBI, and IRS). Europol supported the takedown with specialist operational analysis and coordinated the cross-border collaborative effort of the countries involved.
DarkMarket in figures:

almost 500 000 users;
more than 2 400 sellers;
over 320 000 transactions;
more than 4 650 bitcoin and 12 800 monero transferred.

At the current rate, this corresponds to a sum of more than €140 million. The vendors on the marketplace mainly traded all kinds of drugs and sold counterfeit money, stolen or counterfeit credit card details, anonymous SIM cards and malware.
Germany takes the lead

The Central Criminal Investigation Department in the German city of Oldenburg arrested an Australian citizen who is the alleged operator of DarkMarket near the German-Danish border over the weekend. 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). The stored data will give investigators new leads to further investigate moderators, sellers, and buyers.
Europol's involvement

Facilitated international information exchange.
Provided specialist operational support.
Provided advanced analytics that assisted the German authorities in identifying and tracking down the alleged administrator.
Supported Germany in coordinating the cross-border collaborative effort involving international partners.

Europol's Dark Web Team

One of Europol's initiatives is to create a coordinated law enforcement approach to tackle crime on the dark web. This involves law enforcement agencies from across and outside the EU and other relevant partners and organisations, such as Eurojust.

To achieve this goal, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) has established a dedicated Dark Web Team to work together with EU partners and law enforcement across the globe to reduce the size of this underground illegal economy.

It will deliver a complete, coordinated approach:
sharing information;
providing operational support and expertise in different crime areas;
developing tools, tactics and techniques to conduct dark web investigations;
identifying threats and targets.

The team also aims to enhance joint technical and investigative actions, organise training and capacity-building initiatives, together with prevention and awareness-raising campaigns – a 360° strategy against criminality on the dark web.

A shared commitment across the law enforcement community worldwide and a coordinated approach by law enforcement agencies have once again proved their effectiveness. The scale of the operation at Europol demonstrates the global commitment to tackling the use of the dark web as a means to commit crime.


Staff member

Australian Federal Police raid Queensland properties linked to shutdown of DarkMarket website​

Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigators have raided several properties in Brisbane and the Gold Coast in relation to the shutdown of the world's largest illegal dark web marketplace, DarkMarket.

Key points:​

  • AFP officers seized a laptop, mobiles, thumb drives and hard drives in the latest raids
  • DarkMarket had nearly 500,000 users and nearly 2,400 vendors
  • Information from German authorities prompted the Queensland raids
The site was shut down after a 34-year-old Queensland man was arrested by German police last week near the German border with Denmark.

He is accused of being the administrator of DarkMarket, which was selling drugs, counterfeit cash, stolen credit card data, anonymous SIM cards and malware.

Before being taken down, the marketplace had nearly 500,000 users and more than 2,400 vendors. It had processed more than 320,000 transactions, while more than 140 million euros ($220 million) in Bitcoin and Monero cryptocurrency was exchanged.
Following the Queensland man's arrest, German authorities alerted the AFP-led cybercrime unit Operation Futurist, which led to the latest raids.

The AFP executed search warrants on Thursday and Friday in Park Ridge, Mount Cotton and at a commercial facility in Molendinar.

A laptop, four mobile phones, six USB thumb drives and five hard drives, as well as SIM cards and bank cards were seized.

Cybercrime Operations and Digital Forensic Teams are reviewing the evidence and they have not ruled out making arrests in Queensland.

In a statement, the AFP Southern Command Acting Commander of Investigations, Jayne Crossling, said it was likely Australian criminals had been buying illicit items from DarkMarket.

"Some of these items could have been used or acquired by Australians in Australia," she said.
"The job of the AFP and its partner agencies is to keep Australians safe.

"If police knew there was criminal activity occurring in geographic location, action would be taken.

"There is no difference with the dark web, although the anonymising features of the dark web makes it harder for law enforcement to identify perpetrators, who commit abhorrent crimes."
Police raid Queensland properties over shutdown of dark web crime site