There have been numerous dark net-related prosecutions in Europe in the past few months. The first country to wage a war against dark web criminals was Germany, where the government decided to provide more manpower to eliminate all kinds of illegal dark net activity. The Germans started focusing on the dark web shortly after the Münich shooting, which happened on July 22, 2016. Investigators discovered that the gunman acquired his weapon through a vendor on a dark net marketplace, who had been busted after the tragic incident.
By seeing the number of prosecutions, Austria is following the German example. A national news outlet, tips.at, conducted an interview with Chief Inspector Erwin Eilmannsberger, a police officer from Schärding, about the increasing dark net crime in his district.
At the beginning of the interview, the chief inspector described what the dark web is and what illicit products are advertised on the dark side of the internet:
“This is an Internet platform, which is accessible only with a particular browser. Only through ‘recommendation – evaluation’ of other users is the access [provided] to the various marketplaces. It is undisputed that all [products are] illegal substances, items, and weapons [that] can be purchased via [the] darknet. Drug addicts most frequently buy there. Recently, we were dealing with counterfeit banknotes purchased via [the] Darknet that were put into circulation in the district.”
When asked how frequently the police in Schärding has to deal with dark net related crimes, Eilmannsberger said that they have at least one case per week. He added, that in most instances, the criminals purchase goods from the dark web, and plan to ship the illicit products to the municipality.
According to the chief inspector, the most common problem law enforcement authorities have to deal with, is that they can’t intercept just a few portion of the illicit parcels that originate from dark net vendors. He also added that only “random checks” at the homes of the suspects or at the postal distribution centers can reveal such packages. For solution, Eilmannsberger recommended increasing the security and screenings at the postal distribution centers and at the airports. By doing these measurements, the circulation of the illegal products could be lowered. It could also help law enforcement authorities to track down the suspects, and conduct more house searches and arrests.
“The most common form of cybercrime relates generally to fraud. Several times a day, the network tries to pull money out of the pocket by financial incentives, profits or concessions from the ‘victims’. The credulity of some persons or the lack of a basic episcopal cause the success of the fraudsters. Positive investigations are usually to be excluded since the servers are located in those foreign countries, where police work is still neglected. There is hardly any prospect of success,” the chief inspector said when asked about cybercrime.
At the end of the interview, Eilmannsberger stated that the increase of internet data helps the work of the police. On the other hand, it also leads to more fraud-related crimes. The chief inspector advised internet users to be careful since they could easily become the victims of a fraud.