German police take Hydra Market offline

German police may have taken down the largest illegal marketplace on the web today. It is about Hydra Market, a Russian platform that had millions of active members. It is unknown who the administrators are.

That writes the German Bundeskriminalamt in a press statement.

Hydra Market had about 17 million customers

The Public Prosecution Service, the Zentralstelle zur Bekämpfung der Internetkriminalität (ZIT) and the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) announced today that they have taken Hydra Market offline. In their own words, it is the largest criminal marketplace on the dark web. The platform had some 17 million customers and more than 19,000 registered merchant accounts.

Hydra Market has been around since 2015 and can only be accessed through the Tor web browser. The focus of the illegal marketplace was on the sale of narcotics, forged documents, espionage data, and ‘digital services. According to estimates by ZIT and BKA, Hydra Market achieved a turnover of at least 1.23 billion euros in 2020.

More than 23 million euros seized

The ‘Bitcoin Bank Mixer’ has made it almost impossible for investigative authorities to do their job. This is a service that camouflages the digital transactions of buyers and sellers. Researchers were, therefore, unable to determine which financial routes were followed by transactions.

In total, BKA seized 543 Bitcoins. At the current price, that is worth 23.1 million euros. The Hydra Market investigation has been ongoing since August 2021. Today’s action also involved several U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Multiple illegal marketplaces disabled

It is not the first time that websites on the dark web have gone black due to police intervention. The most famous illegal marketplace that went offline overnight is Silk Road. In October 2013, the FBI arrested the man behind the site, William Ulbrich, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts.

After Silk Road went off the air, DarkMarket took over its role. The platform had more than half a million members and 2,400 buyers. They traded in drugs, counterfeit money, stolen credit card details, personal data, child pornography, anonymous SIM cards, and rogue software to carry out phishing and  DDoS attacks. In January 2021, the German police took DarkMarket offline. More than 320,000 transactions are said to have been made via the platform, with more than 140 million euros being spent in cryptocurrency.

In June last year, it was Slilpp ‘s turn. More than 80 million stolen credentials for bank accounts, online payment services, provider and retailer accounts were traded through the platform. In the summer of 2021, the cybercrime team of the Rotterdam police removed dozens of websites from the dark web.

AlphaBay is being revived

After the arrest of one of the founders of AlphaBay in July 2017, the curtain seemed to fall for the illegal sales site. Nothing turned out to be less true. In August 2021, administrator DeSnake relaunched the site, including some new game rules. For example, sellers are not allowed to offer services as a hitman, and doxing is expressly prohibited. In its heyday, AlphaBay had between 20,000 and 40,000 sellers.

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