According to Europol, “the infrastructure of an underground criminal economy responsible for the trading of over 350 000 illicit commodities including drugs, firearms and cybercrime malware.”
On 4th July, AlphaBay, apparently the biggest dark web marketplace after the Silk Road, went offline and users believed that the site’s admins had scammed them. However, one of its admins committed suicide in a Thai prison cell, and it turned out that the domain was busted and in the control of the FBI since 4th July.
Now, those visiting the AlphaBay marketplace can see a page explaining that the domain had been seized since July 4, 2017. Here is a full preview of the warning page uploaded by the FBI:
“This hidden site has been seized since July 4, 2017. As part of law enforcement operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and European law enforcement agencies acting through Europol – In accordance with the law of European member states and obtained pursuant to a forfeiture order by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and the US Department of Justice’s Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section.”
Like AlphaBay, Hansa was also a popular dark web marketplace where vendors could sell illegal drugs, weapons, documents, malware and databases stolen from Internet giants. In fact, Hansa made news for being home to vendors selling databases including Dropbox, MySpace, LinkedIn, Anti-Public Combo list and thousands of other high profile databases.
Now, Hansa has also been seized by the feds and right now its domain is displaying a similar message to that of AplhaBay. The alert message on the Hansa domain reveals that the Feds took control of the marketplace on June 20, 2017, and kept an eye on the activities of buyers and sellers for over a month.
It can be expected that sooner or later Feds will bust those involved in buying and selling illegal goods. Here is a full preview of the alert message visitors can see on Hanse marketplace:
“This hidden site has been seized and controlled since June 20 by the Dutch National Police in conjunction with the Bundeskriminalamt, Lietuvos Policija, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Europol, under the authority of the Dutch National Prosecutor’s Office and the Attorney General’s office of the Federal State of Hessia (Germany).”
In a press release, Europol has stated that: “This is an outstanding success by authorities in Europe and the US. The capability of drug traffickers and other serious criminals around the world has taken a serious hit today after a highly sophisticated joint action in multiple countries,” Rob Wainwright, Europol Executive Director said.
“By acting together on a global basis the law enforcement community has sent a clear message that we have the means to identify criminality and strike back, even in areas of the Dark Web. There are more of these operations to come.”
This is the third successful joint operation in the last two years conducted by law enforcement authorities from the United States and Europe to shut down illegal online platforms. In July 2016, authorities successfully closed down the Kickass torrent site and arrested its owner Artem Vaulin.
Apple and Facebook played a vital role in Vaulin’s arrest by providing the IP address of an iTunes transaction he conducted. The same IP Address was used on the same day to login into the KAT Facebook account and the rest was history.
Although authorities are busting dark web marketplace, it’s only a matter of time before a new platform emerges to sell illegal goods. For now, both AlphaBay and Hansa sites are seized.