Dark Web Giant Hydra and Garantex Exchange Falls Following Seizure by German Authorities
- $5 billion dark web giant Hydra takes a fall along with the Garantex exchange.
- The German authorities seized the dark web marketplace.
- The authorities also seized bitcoin worth $25.3 million.
In what appears to be a coordinated international effort to shut down the dark web marketplace Hydra, the actions seemed effective as the German authorities closed down the largest darknet market.
The steps were taken in order to stop the spread of destructive cybercrime services, deadly drugs, and other illicit offers on the Russia-based website.
The US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations collaborated in the Hydra operation.
The German Federal police, who seized the servers of Hydra, also seized bitcoin worth $25 million.
“The global threat of cybercrime and ransomware that originates in Russia, and the ability of criminal leaders to operate there with impunity, is deeply concerning to the United States,” said Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen.
The department set this mission out as a warning move against Hydra and Garantex exchange that the criminals can’t hide in Russia or any part of the world.
A warning for darknet criminals
Hydra was the breeding ground of illicit activities. It served more than 17 million customers. The Hydra users used the Tor encryption network to hide their IPs, making it hard for the police to track them.
Hydra provided services like ransomware hacking, stolen virtual currency sales, and illicit drugs. Etc. The investigation also identified $8 million worth of ransomware proceeds.
According to blockchain analysts, about 86 percent of illegal bitcoin received directly by Russian crypto exchanges in 2019 was linked back to Hydra, the world's "biggest and most prominent darknet market," as characterized by the Treasury Department.
The Treasury also stated that the new sanctions would prohibit Americans from giving or receiving "any donation or provision of cash, commodities, or services" to Hydra or Garantex.
All the property and interests in property of the individuals and entities that are in the United States or in the ownership or control of U.S. persons are blocked as a result of the order.
The sanctions ban U.S. transactions with Hydra and Garantex and seek to freeze any assets they may have in the United States.
According to the department, all these sanctions will be a part of a global effort to disrupt the prevalent structure of malicious cybercrime services, drugs, and other illegal offerings that originate in Russia.
According to recent investigations, cybercriminals utilized various Russian darknet markets to sell stolen credit card data. Cannazon, a darknet market with nearly half a billion members that was shut down in late 2017, was one such example.
DarkMarket, a known darknet marketplace with approximately 500,000 members and over 2,400 merchants worldwide, was also taken down last year by a German-led police investigation.
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