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Tuesday, 12 January 2021

German police shut down DarkMarket - 'the world's largest darknet marketplace' - run by ‘Australian who used it to sell drugs and stolen credit card data’

 German authorities say they have taken down the 'world's largest' darknet marketplace and arrested an Australian who allegedly used it to sell drugs, stolen credit card data and other illegal goods. 

Police in Oldenburg shut down the DarkMarket site and turned off its server on Monday after arresting the alleged operator at the weekend, a statement said today. 

The marketplace offered 'all kinds of drugs' as well as 'counterfeit money, stolen and fake credit card data, anonymous SIM cards, malware and much more,' it is alleged. 

German police say they have taken down the 'world's largest' darknet marketplace - DarkMarket - which was used to sell drugs, stolen credit card data, and other illegal goods

German police say they have taken down the 'world's largest' darknet marketplace - DarkMarket - which was used to sell drugs, stolen credit card data, and other illegal goods

Calling it 'the suspected world's largest illegal marketplace on the darknet', German prosecutors said the website was brought down by a months-long international investigation involving the FBI and other foreign law enforcement.  


At the time of its closure, DarkMarket had nearly 500,000 users and more than 2,400 vendors.  


A total of at least 320,000 transactions were carried out via the marketplace, with more than 4,650 Bitcoin and 12,800 Monero - two of the most common cryptocurrencies - changing hands, prosecutors said.

At current exchange rates, that represented turnover valued at €140million (£125million).

A 34-year-old Australian national believed to be the DarkMarket operator was arrested near the German-Danish border, just as more than 20 servers it used in Moldova and Ukraine were seized.

Police have also arrested an Australian national accused of running the website, after a months-long investigation involving the FBI and other agencies (file image)

Police have also arrested an Australian national accused of running the website, after a months-long investigation involving the FBI and other agencies (file image) 

'Investigators expect to use the data saved there to launch new probes against the moderators, sellers and buyers of the marketplace,' prosecutors said.

The prime suspect was brought before a judge but declined to speak. He was placed in pre-trial detention.

The American FBI, DEA narcotics law enforcement division and IRS tax authority took part in the probe along with their German colleagues. 

The investigation also involved police from Australia, Britain, Denmark, Switzerland, Ukraine and Moldova, with Europol playing a 'coordinating role'.

The secret 'darknet' network includes websites that can be accessed only with specific software or authorisations, ensuring anonymity for users.

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