What just happened? German authorities say they have shut down the world’s largest darknet marketplace, seizing 543 Bitcoin, worth about $25 million. Hydra Market had 17 million customers, 19,000 merchant accounts and what was probably the highest revenue of any illegal online platform.
Like other similar marketplaces, the Russian-language Hydra Market was a hotbed of drug trafficking and money laundering. The Frankfurt prosecutors’ anti-cybercrime unit said it generated sales of 1.23 billion euros ($1.35 billion) in 2020 alone, despite its clients being mainly located in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan. , Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Moldova, according to blockchain forensics firm Ciphertrace.
The German Central Office for Combating Cybercrime (ZIT) and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) today seized Hydra Market’s server infrastructure, which was launched in 2015. The investigation began in August 2021 and also involved US authorities.
The BKA said the Bitcoin Bank Mixer, a digital transaction obfuscation service offered by Hydra, made it extremely difficult for law enforcement to trace the source and destination of the crypto payments.
According to Chainalysis, Hydra Market offered payout services designed to allow users to covertly move large amounts of illegal cryptocurrency, allowing it to act as a money laundering service for Russian entities. Surprisingly, however, it had not been used to evade sanctions against the country, and transaction volume declined even after the invasion of Ukraine.
This isn’t the first time German authorities have shut down a massive dark web marketplace. They led an investigation that brought down DarkMarket, which was used by about 500,000 people, in 2021. It mainly dealt in drugs, counterfeit money, credit card information, SIM cards and malware.
This post German authorities shut down world’s largest darknet marketplace, seize $25 million in Bitcoin
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