Just in Germany, more than 1,000 investigators searched over 120 homes and offices in connection with crimenetwork.biz. On the dark net website, cybercriminals were selling various illicit products, including stolen goods, narcotics, and medication.
“The Forum served as a digital market and trading place for drugs, counterfeit money, hacker tools, botnets, as well as spying-out data of any kind. In addition, the publicly accessible forum of criminals was used to exchange information and networking, as well as the planning and appointment of criminal offenses,” the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) said in a press release regarding the activities of the forum.
According to the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the raids followed a four-month criminal probe. In the investigation, law enforcement authorities examined over a million posts and private messages exchanged between the 260 members of the forum. Police managed to identify 153 members of the dark net site, including 11 members, who are believed to be the part of the “leadership level”. The gang leaders now face charges including the forming of a criminal organization.
In a separate set of raids on Tuesday, German, Latvian and British law enforcement targeted 10 premises and 12 persons, who were suspected of stealing the funds of online banking customers in Germany. According to prosecutors in Frankfurt, the criminals allegedly used phishing attacks to obtain login details from the victims and then acquired duplicate SIM cards for their cellphones. By doing so, the hackers were able to receive text messages from each victim’s banks containing an authorization code needed for successful money transfers.
According to the prosecution, in February, law enforcement authorities detained the main suspect, a 34-year-old Belarusian citizen, in Frankfurt. Additionally, police arrested a 27-year-old dual citizen of Kazakhstan and Germany on Tuesday, along with a 47-year-old Moldovan citizen residing in London.
In one of the states, German authorities raided the apartments of 15 suspects in the evening hours on Tuesday, the Baden-Würtemberg LKA reported on Wednesday. The arrested persons, between the age of 20 and 38, are suspected of “having offered and/or purchased anesthetic products, illegally obtained goods and access data of foreign persons via the internet accessible forum to various online services.”
During the house searches, investigators seized 1.2 kilograms of amphetamine, two kilograms of marijuana, and various other narcotics. Additionally, two firearms, cash, numerous electronic devices and media data were confiscated by authorities. Forensic specialists will start examining the data for further evaluation, police information said.
According to police information, this was the first time when crime specialists from the BKA and LKA conducted a joint action against a criminal group.
“The measures in Baden-Württemberg were coordinated by the LKA, Cybercrime and Digital Tracks. A total of ten investigators from the LKA and 120 officers from the police detention centers Aalen, Heilbronn, Karlsruhe, Constance, Ludwigsburg, Mannheim, Offenburg, Reutlingen, Stuttgart, and Tuttlingen as well as special task forces from the police department were involved in the action,” the LKA said in the press release.
Law enforcement authorities raided locations in another state too. In Saarland, police arrested a 20-year-old from Saarlouis who was suspected of computer fraud in 452 cases. The other, a 33-year-old from Saarbrücken, was accused of selling sexual potency agents in currently unknown quantities in 259 cases.
In May 2016, the German computer online service heise.de, reported that crimenetwork.biz had become the “largest German-language underground forum”. The forum started somewhere in 2006 and had 8,000 active users and 84,000 registered users until its close down last year. According to the German news outlets report, online forum administrators acted as intermediaries between sellers and buyers, taking between three and 15 percent of the purchase price for themselves. All payments were conducted in bitcoins on the illicit website.
Since there were numerous arrests in the law enforcement operation, further news about the investigations and criminal proceedings will be expected in the near future.