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Germany shuts down servers used by Hydra, a Russian darknet marketplace

When one dark web goes down, another one replaces it. However, the German authority is doubling down on its attack on the online dark marketplaces hosted within its territory. It has shut down the servers used by Hydra, a Russian darknet marketplace. It also seized Bitcoin worth €23 million, as reported by the Federal Crime Police Office, BKA.

For players in the underworld that need to purchase drugs, stolen credit cards, fake documents, and a myriad of illegal products and services, Hydra is home. The illegal marketplace was mostly used by criminals in Russia and other nearby nations. The dealers using the marketplace are known as Treasuremen and regularly push drugs in the region.

German authorities have now launched an investigation to unveil the unknown characters behind the illegal marketplace. They believe the admins are into narcotics and money laundering. While the investigation started in August 2021, there has not been an arrest yet.

Hydra is also reported to be involved in crypto laundering, a new trend in online criminality. Shady characters could exchange cryptos with rubles delivered through legal payment apps. Others prefer to be paid by having the money buried at a location that they will dig up later.

According to crypto investigation Chainanalysis, about $200 million worth of stolen cryptos has been circulating on the marketplace between 2021 and 2022. $5 million of it was connected to fraud, while ransomware accounted for $4 million. Another $4 million came from sanctioned entities. The firm reported that about $2 billion worth of transactions could be traced to risky sources.

The press release by the German authorities reads in part:

“The General Prosecutor’s Office in Frankfurt am Main – Central Office for combating Cybercrime (ZIT) – and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) today seized the server infrastructure of the world’s largest illegal darknet marketplace “Hydra Market” located in Germany and thus closed it. Bitcoins in the amount of currently the equivalent of about 23 million EUR were secured, which are attributed to the marketplace.

“The investigation pending before the ZIT in this regard is directed against the previously unknown operators and administrators of the aforementioned platform. Among other things, these are suspected of the commercial operation of criminal trading platforms on the Internet, the commercial provision or granting of an opportunity for the unauthorized acquisition or delivery of narcotics as well as commercial money laundering.

“The seizures carried out today were preceded by elaborate investigations, which have been conducted by the BKA and the ZIT since August 2021 and in which several US authorities were involved.

“The illegal marketplace was a Russian-language darknet platform accessible via the Tor network since at least 2015. Their focus was on the trade in illegal narcotics, and the platform also profitably offered data, forged documents and digital services worldwide.

“Approximately 17 million customer accounts and over 19,000 seller accounts were registered on the marketplace.”

Meanwhile, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced its own sanctions on Hydra and Garantex, a Russian crypto exchange. The authorities have been investigating more than 100 crypto wallets associated with the dark marketplace.

“Our actions send a message today to criminals that you cannot hide on the darknet or their forums, and you cannot hide in Russia or anywhere else in the world,” Secretary of Treasury Janet L. Yellen commented. “In coordination with allies and partners, like Germany and Estonia, we will continue to disrupt these networks.”

Written by HackerVibes

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