Friday, November 07, 2014

400 Illegal Websites Seized By Feds

Federal law enforcement has taken action against over 400 Tor hidden service .onion addresses, including dozens of “dark market” websites, that were offering a range of illegal goods and services for sale on the “Tor” network, a special network of computers on the Internet designed to conceal the locations of individuals using it. 

These sites were all operating online black markets, openly advertising on their home pages and offering to sell a variety of illicit goods and services to customers in the United States and elsewhere. The advertised goods and services included, among other things: illegal narcotics; firearms; stolen credit card data and personal identification information; counterfeit currency; fake passports and other identification documents; and computer-hacking tools and services.

The website addresses and computer servers hosting these websites were seized yesterday as part of a coordinated international law enforcement action involving the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and law enforcement agencies of approximately 16 foreign nations working under the umbrella of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and Eurojust. 

This action follows the arrest on Nov. 5, 2014, of Blake Benthall, aka “Defcon,” for charges brought in the Southern District of New York for his alleged role in operating the Silk Road 2.0 website. This action constitutes the largest law enforcement action to date against criminal websites operating on the “Tor” network.

According to public documents, the seizure operation targeted the Silk Road 2.0 website and more than 400 hidden services related to dozens of other “dark market” websites that are only accessible to operating on what is known as “The Onion Router” or “Tor” network, a part of the Internet designed to make it practically impossible to physically locate the computers hosting or accessing websites on the network.

The “dark market” websites were designed to facilitate illicit commerce by providing anonymity to users. The sites were only accessible to users of the Tor anonymizing network. The sites also accepted payments for their illicit goods and services in bitcoin or similar virtual currency designed to be as anonymous.

Examples of the websites seized in the operation include:
“Pandora” (pandora3uym4z42b.onion), “Blue Sky” (blueskyplzv4fsti.onion), “Hydra”(hydrampvvnunildl.onion), and “Cloud Nine” (xvqrvtnn4pbcnxwt.onion), all of which were dark markets similar to Silk Road 2.0, offering an extensive range of illegal goods and services for sale, including drugs, stolen credit card data, counterfeit currency, and fake identity documents.

“Executive Outcomes” (http://iczyaan7hzkyjown.onion[external link]), which specialized in firearms trafficking, with offerings including assault rifles, automatic weapons, and sound suppressors. The site stated that it used “secure drop ship locations” throughout the world so that “anonymity [was] ensured” throughout the shipping process, and that all serial numbers from the weapons it sold were “remove[d] . . . and refill[ed] with metal.”

“Fake Real Plastic” (http://igvmwp3544wpnd6u.onion[external link]), which offered to sell counterfeit credit cards, encoded with “stolen credit card data” and “printed to look just like real VISA and Mastercards.” The cards were “[g]uaranteed to have at least $2500 left on [the] credit card limit” and could be embossed with “any name you want on the card.”
“Fake ID” (http://23swqgocas65z7xz.onion[external link]), which offered fake passports from a number of countries, advertised as “high quality” and having “all security features” of original documents. The site further advertised the ability to “affix almost all kind of stamps into the passports.”

“Fast Cash!” (http://5oulvdsnka55buw6.onion[external link]) and “Super Notes Counter” (http://67yjqewxrd2ewbtp.onion[external link]), which offered to sell counterfeit Euros and U.S. dollars in exchange for Bitcoin.

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