Sunday, May 22, 2022

Germany closes servers for Russian darknet marketplace Hydra

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German authorities have shut down server infrastructure for the Russian darknet marketplace Hydra, seizing €23 million (~$25.2 million USD) worth of Bitcoin, the German Federal Police Office (BKA) said. announced on Tuesday (via beeping computer

Hydra is a large marketplace on the dark web that serves as a hub for drugs, stolen credit card information, fake bills, fake documents, and other illegal goods or services. The market mainly focuses on criminals in Russia and surrounding countries. “Treasuremen”, or dealers associated with the site, push drugs throughout the region hide them in geotagged pickup locations

With the shutdown of the Germany-based server, authorities are now launching an investigation into Hydra’s “unknown operators and administrators”, who they suspect are selling narcotics and engaged in money laundering. German authorities say they have been investigating the market with the help of the US since August 2021. The BKA told The edge that no arrests have been made yet.

In response to the shutdown, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced that it has sanctioned Hydra and Russian cryptocurrency exchange Garantex. The US is also working on identification more than 100 cryptocurrency addresses with links to the illegal market.

“Our actions today are sending a message to criminals that you can’t hide on the darknet or their forums, and you can’t hide in Russia or anywhere in the world,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said. “In coordination with allies and partners, such as Germany and Estonia, we will continue to disrupt these networks.”

With about 17 million customer accounts and 19,000 sellers, Germany’s BKA and the Central Office for Combating Cybercrime (ZIT) say Hydra has the highest turnover rate of all illegal markets in the world, with an estimated turnover of about €1.23 billion ( ~$1.35 million USD) in 2020 alone, German authorities note that cryptocurrency transactions on Hydra are particularly difficult to track due to a crypto-concealing service called the Bitcoin Bank Mixer.

Last year, German authorities shut down the darknet marketplace DarkMarket, which at the time had nearly half a million users. Authorities around the world have long been trying to crack down on illegal marketplaces and over the course of several years have brought down Silk Road, Wall Street Market and AlphaBay.

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