DEER.IO, the biggest platform for selling hacked personally identifiable information, compromised devices, social media accounts, and financial data, has been seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The bureau has also arrested the site’s administrator, a 28-year old Russian citizen Kirill Victorovich Firsov, from John F. Kennedy Airport, New York, around two weeks back.
During the investigation, the FBI couldn’t find a single legit business being hosted on DEER.IO, which is why the bureau suspected foul play. The FBI agents also purchased stolen usernames and passwords of a gaming firm in San Diego via Deer.io to gather evidence.
In total, the bureau bought 3649 accounts that included private data and Social Security Numbers including some from the DEER.IO store SHIKISHOP.DEER.IS for approximately $170 in Bitcoin.
The warrant for the site’s seizure was issued by the US Department of Justice (DoJ). When visited the site displays a message that it is seized by the FBI following the orders of the DoJ.
THIS WEBSITE HAS BEEN SEIZED This site has been seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in accordance with a seizure warrant obtained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California issued pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 981 and 982.
A full preview of the homepage is available below:
DEER.IO was launched in October 2013 and served as the country’s cybercrime portal facilitating cybercriminals on leasing digital storefronts exclusively to sell hacked/stolen corporate and private data, and illegal products/services. More than 24,000 shops were hosted via DEER.IO and the platform collected a total of $17 million annually through these shops.
As per US Attorney Robert Brewer, there is a huge demand for hacked or stolen data and underground platforms like DEER.IO offer “novel ways” to cybercriminals for selling such data without the fear of getting caught.
“There is a robust underground market for hacked stolen information, and this was a novel way to try to market it to criminals hoping not to get caught,” said Mr. Brewer. “Hackers are a threat to our economy, and our privacy and national security, and cannot be tolerated.”
According to Omer Meisel, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the investigation stated that this is a significant step towards discouraging the sale of stolen data that is later used to blackmail businesses and citizens within and outside the USA.
Firsov is due to be arraigned on 16 April 2020 and faces one count of facilitating false authentication features and aiding the unauthorized provision of access devices.
The seizure of DEER.IO is the second successful event in the last month. Last week, authorities in Europe with the help of US authorities took down real-life child abuse and blackmailing website DarkScandals. Its administrator was also arrested from the Netherlands.