Australian man arrested in Germany accused of running 'world's largest' Darknet marketplace

Australian man arrested in Germany accused of running 'world's largest' Darknet marketplace”

Until this week, the site DarkMarket boasted almost half a million users, over 200,000 re-sellers, and was considered to be one of the most popular havens for criminals looking to digitally swap drugs, malware, stolen credit card data, and SIM cards, among other things.

DarkMarket was shut down on Monday and its servers, located in Ukraine and Moldova, were taken off the internet, prosecutors said.

The man, known only as Julian K, is the alleged operator of DarkMarket and has been detained by German investigators.

They added that it processed more than 320,000 transactions, and Bitcoin and Monero cryptocurrency to the value of more than 140 million euros ($219.8 million) were exchanged.

A joint investigation by Australian Federal Police, Scotland Yard, the FBI, Europol, and German authorities, among others, led to the arrest of the Queensland man, 34, as he tried to cross the Danish border into Germany this week.

They are popular with criminals, as buyers and sellers are largely untraceable.

More than 500,000 people used Dark Market to access about 2,400 dealers
More than 500,000 people used Dark Market to access about 2,400 dealers

Additionally, the marketplace allegedly allowed trade of narcotics and illegal items such as counterfeit money, stolen or counterfeit credit card details, anonymous SIM cards, and malware. The alleged operator faced a judge and has been put in pre-trial detention.

USA agencies like the FBI, DEA narcotics law enforcement division and IRS tax authority all contributed to the investigation, along with police from Australia, Britain, Denmark, Switzerland, Ukraine and Moldova, with Europol playing a "coordinating role".

Europol, Europe´s police agency, played a "coordinating role".

Prosecutors said the move against DarkMarket originated in an investigation of a data processing centre installed in a former North Atlantic Treaty Organisation bunker in south-western Germany that hosted sites dealing in drugs and other illegal activities.

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.

More news: Canada Secures 20-Million More Doses of Pfizer Vaccine

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