The FBI, the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) worked together to shut down the SSNDOB Marketplace, a collection of dark web sites that listed the personal information of around 24 million US citizens and more than 19 US -Dollar brought in millions of sales.
For the uninitiated, the dark web, also known as the dark web, is an encrypted part of the online world that is not indexed by search engines and is only accessible with specialized browsers. While the dark web is popular with cybercriminals selling illegal products and services online, others such as political activists or whistleblowers can also use the network to share highly sensitive information.
The DoJ announced this week that the SSNDOB marketplace, which has been in operation for a number of years, sells personal information such as names, dates of birth and social security numbers of individuals in the United States
Efforts to take down the service included working with law enforcement agencies in Cyprus and Latvia, and earlier this week seizure orders were issued against the domain names used by the SSNDOB marketplace, leading to its closure.
The SSNDOB marketplace appeared to be an efficiently run business, run by administrators who placed advertisements on darknet criminal forums for the SSNDOB’s services while providing customer support, the DoJ said.
It added that the administrators “have employed various techniques to protect their anonymity and prevent detection of their activities, including the use of online monikers that are different from their real identities, the strategic maintenance of servers in different countries and requiring buyers to use digital payment methods, such as bitcoin.”
Commenting on the case, Special Agent in Charge Darrell Waldon of the IRS-CI Washington, DC field office said, “Identity theft can have a devastating impact on a victim’s long-term emotional and financial health. Taking down the SSNDOB website disrupted identity theft criminals and helped millions of Americans whose personal information was compromised.”
Waldon added that the US and international law enforcement community will continue to work to end what he called “these complex scams.”
As no arrests appear to have been made in connection with the case, the perpetrators behind SSNDOB are free to set up a new operation, while other cybercriminals could also step in to try to fill the hole left by the shutdown. In that sense, it’s a slap on the mole for the FBI, although its efforts will stop and disrupt the perpetrators while also sending out a message that this is their case.
In another recent success for investigators targeting nefarious online outfits, the “world’s largest dark web marketplace” went offline in April. The Hydra Market platform made its money selling drugs and money laundering services.
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