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12.7.18 Darknet and Cybercrime Roundup

Maryland Man Charged for Selling Counterfeit Xanax on the Darknet

A Homeland Security Investigations investigation known as Operation Dark Gold ended with the arrest of 35 individuals suspected of illegal activity connected to the darknet. One suspect, in Maryland man, has been accused of producing counterfeit pills from his home in Baltimore County and selling the counterfeit pills on the darknet. According to the court documents, Ryan Farace, 34, began pressing fake Xanax pills as early as 2013.

Although the court documents did not reveal the suspected vendors name, some darknet market users have noticed that a Xanax vendor that shipped from the same area has been missing for some time now. The vendor account, known on Reddit as “XM” and on the markets as “XanaxMan,” matches information provided in the Farace court documents. The Maryland man was also deeply involved with an alleged money launderer who received only a few mentions in the redacted court documents. Farace’s case—as it unfolds in court—could reveal information about the root of Homeland Security Investigations’ case.

Farace faces Xanax distribution charges and money laundering conspiracy charges.

Darknet Vendor and Three Customers Busted in Mannheim

In Mannheim, Germany, the public prosecutor issued arrest warrants for for suspected drug dealers and an unknown number of suspected drug buyers connected to a single darknet dealer. The primary suspect, a 28-year-old, allegedly both bought and sold amphetamine and ecstasy on the darknet and to local drug dealers. A press release from the public prosecutor’s office accused the alleged dealer of selling more than 10 kg of amphetamine on the darknet and selling ecstasy pills to local dealers.

The Mannheim Police Headquarters issued a press release that revealed they had already arrested at least three buyers in connection with the case. And from information extracted from the 26-year-old’s computer, the police have identified in unknown number of buyers throughout Germany. Many buyers also resided in the city of Mannheim. The investigation is ongoing.

French Customs Accuses Young Mother of Running the “Black Hand” Forum

Only days after announcing the takedown of the French darknet forum known as the Black Hand, a French Customs officer announced that the administrator of the forum was a young mother—the last person they would have suspected. The Customs officer pointed out that no other market or forum owner or administrator has been a woman. As far as they know, that is.

The woman, a 28-year-old mother, only worked as the forum administrator. The Customs officer clarified that the administrator had not created the foreign and that the forum creator or owner has not been found or identified. He or she likely disappeared far before the forum became the focus of a police investigation. And before leaving, handed the forum over to the administrator.

The statement from the Customs officer also revealed information about the forum’s administration, moderation, and payment infrastructure. instead of a fixed salary, many of the staff members receive certain percent of the registration fee new members paid when signing up to use the forum. So far, including the administrator, only four suspects are in custody. But since the police seized the servers in an unencrypted state, they plan on investigating all forum users.

Another Massive Darknet Drug Bust in Germany

German authorities announced a massive drug seizure connected to both darknet buyers and sellers. The drug shipments originated in the Netherlands and had been shipped to clients in Germany. The seizure was coordinated by teams in the Netherlands and in Germany. According to joint announcements, the investigation started last year after police in the Netherlands identified several suspected darknet drug traffickers.

French National Behind UK Data Breach Caught in Thailand

According to an announcement from Europol, the Royal Thai police apprehended a 25 year old Frenchman suspected of involvement in the hacks conducted by “Rex Mundi.” His arrest was coordinated by the French national police, the Royal Thai police, and Europol’s Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce.

The law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation and arrest reportedly identified the suspected hacker in May 2018. Other suspected “Rex Mundi” conspirators landed in police custody in June 2017 and October 2017.

Suspected Kidnapper Extradited in “Black Death Group” Case

Michal Konrad Herba, the brother of the convicted kidnapper of Chloe Ayling, has been extradited to Italy where he faces kidnapping and accessory to kidnapping charges. Ayling accused both Lukasz Pawel Herba and Michal Konrad Herba (and a handful of other, non-existent individuals) of kidnapping her after luring her to a fake photo shoot in Milan, Italy.

Ayling said the men had kidnapped her to auction on a darknet human trafficking site. Of course, the darknet human trafficking group never existed. And one of the brothers set the site up as part of the plot to scare Ayling’s wealthy family and friends into playing a ransom for her return.

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