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“DarkMarket” Bitcoin and Monero confiscated for 135 million euros: Authorities shut down huge Darknet trading platform

The public prosecutor’s office in Koblenz reports an important success in the fight against cyber crime. In a message, the Rhineland-Palatinate judicial authority announced that it had shut down the supposedly largest illegal Darknet trading platform, “DarkMarket”.

After the notorious “cyber bunker” was taken up by the State Criminal Police Office in Rhineland-Palatinate in 2019, the Koblenz Public Prosecutor’s Office is now dealing the next blow to cyber crime. According to a report, the law enforcement agency succeeded on January 11th in successfully shutting down the supposedly largest trading center in the Darknet, the “DarkMarket”. To this end, the Central Criminal Inspectorate Oldenburg (ZKI) investigated intensively for months under the direction of the State Central Cybercrime Office (LZC) of the Koblenz Public Prosecutor’s Office. There was support not only at the national level, from the state criminal police offices in Lower Saxony and Rhineland-Palatinate, the LZC could also rely on international help. For example, they cooperated with various agencies in the USA, such as the FBI, the DEA and the federal tax authority IRS. In addition, several international police authorities, led by Europol, took part in the investigation into the darknet marketplace. The decisive clue was provided by the data from the proceedings against the operator of the “cyber bunker”.

With combined forces, the LZC finally succeeded in arresting the alleged operator. The 34-year-old Australian was arrested at the German-Danish border. He is currently in custody and is silent on the allegations. In parallel, investigators in Moldova and Ukraine confiscated more than 20 servers. From the data stored there, the detectives hope to gain new information on moderators, buyers and sellers of the darknet platform.

According to the investigative authorities, “DarkMarket” was the largest darknet trading center in the world. By the time it was closed, the terminal had around 500,000 users and more than 2,400 dealers. With at least 320,000 transactions, more than 4,650 Bitcoin and 12,800 Monero are said to have been moved. According to the current rate, this corresponds to a total value of almost 135 million euros (as of January 13, 2021).

According to the authorities, the darknet site mainly sold drugs. In addition, counterfeit money, stolen or counterfeit credit cards, anonymous SIM cards and malware were also for sale.

DarkMarket far removed from Darknet icon “Silk-Road”

The closure of the currently “world’s largest” Darknet marketplace provides an important indication of the general developments in relation to cyber crime. For example, if you compare the sales of “DarkMarket” with those of “Silk-Road”, which was taken offline in 2013, you can see that the trading volume on Darknet platforms has shrunk eminently. A comparison:

An official report by the US attorney’s office regarding the “Silk-Road” put total sales (based on the confiscated 9.5 million BTC plus 600,000 BTC commission) at 1.2 billion US dollars. According to the euro to dollar exchange rate at the time (factor 1.36), this corresponds to around 882 million euros. This means that the largest darknet platform ever generated more than six times as much money as “DarkMarket” by the time it was closed. Under today’s market conditions (as of January 13, 2021) total sales would be 351.55 billion US dollars.

Fighting Cyber ​​Crime Good For Cryptocurrencies

The fact that law enforcement agencies can proclaim ever more triumphs in the fight against cyber crime is good for the crypto market. Cryptocurrencies have long been frowned upon as a means of payment by criminals. This mistrust was most recently revealed in Germany in a survey by the digital association Bitkom. Thus, every success of the investigative authorities polishes the still tarnished image of Bitcoin and Co. again and thus promotes mass adoption to a certain extent.


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