German authorities have shut down the world’s largest darknet marketplace in a joint operation supported by Europol, a law enforcement agency of the European Union. The illegal marketplace vendors were involved in nearly $170 million worth of transactions, including the transfer of 4,650 Bitcoin and 12,800 Monero (XMR). According to the official announcement by Europol, the darknet marketplace involved more than 500,000 users, including 2,400 vendors. The sellers on the darknet marketplace used Bitcoin and other privacy coins to transfer funds obtained by trading drugs.
Authorities seize the darknet marketplace.
The Europol authorities mentioned that an Australian citizen had been arrested near the German-Danish border as further investigations are underway. “The investigation, which was led by the cybercrime unit of the Koblenz Public Prosecutor’s Office, allowed officers to locate and close the darknet marketplace, switch off the servers and seize the criminal infrastructure, more than 20 servers in Moldova and Ukraine supported by the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). The stored data will give investigators new leads to further investigate moderators, sellers, and buyers,” Europol said in the official announcement.
Bitcoin’s use in darknet marketplaces increases.
The criminals have accelerated the use of the world’s largest cryptocurrency in illegal activities. US authorities seized more than 69,000 Bitcoin related to the Silk Road Darknet in November 2020. In December, a research report by Elliptic indicated that cybercriminals increased the use of privacy wallets and privacy-centric coins to hide illegal funds. The recent shut down by the German authorities shows that it is not that easy for criminals to use crypto assets in illegal transactions. Bitcoin has witnessed a lot of mainstream exposure in the last few years and is continuing to do so. However, this mainstream exposure has coincided with the rise in crypto frauds.