The news yesterday was that the FBI arrested a 26 year-old San Francisco man responsible for operating Silk Road 2.0 – an anonymous, online marketplace for illicit goods. The news on Friday is that Silk Road was just the tip of the iceberg.
On Friday, the FBI and announced that it has seized dozens of other so-called “dark market” websites offering a range of illegal goods and services for sale on the “Tor” network. The coordinated take downs are the “largest law enforcement action to date against criminal websites operating on the ‘Tor’ network,” the FBI said in a statement.
“We shut down the original Silk Road website and now we have shut down its replacement, as well as multiple other ‘dark market’ sites allegedly offering all manner of illicit goods and services, from firearms to computer hacking,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
The take-downs were part of a coordinated law enforcement action that involved the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section domestically. International law enforcement from 16 foreign nations also took part under the auspices of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and Eurojust.
On Thursday, the FBI announced the arrest of Blake Benthall, a/k/a “Defcon” for his alleged role in operating the Silk Road 2.0 website.
In addition to Silk Road, authorities seized a wide range of websites operating on the Tor (The Onion Router) network, including 400 sites using the .onion top level domain (TLD).
“These sites were all operating online criminal marketplaces, 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 FBI said in a statement. The sites offered illegal narcotics; firearms; stolen credit card data and personal identification information for sale, as well as counterfeit currency, fake identification documents and computer-hacking tools and services.
Many of the sites accepted payments in Bitcoin – an anonymous online currency – or used other suspect online money transfer outfits.
Among the underground markets brought down in the raid are sites like Pandora, which fenced narcotics and other illicit goods; Executive Outcomes, which specialized in firearms trafficking and Fake Real Plastic, which offered to sell counterfeit credit cards.