It was the “world’s largest illegal marketplace on the darknet,” the Koblenz prosecutor general’s office said after German investigators busted DarkMarket. Now an Australian couple has been charged with allegedly running the platform with around half a million users and more than 2,400 sellers. This was announced by the Rhineland-Palatinate State Central Office for Cybercrime of the Koblenz Prosecutor General’s Office.
“On DarkMarket, illegal drugs of all kinds, counterfeit money, stolen or forged credit cards, malware and many other illegal goods were traded,” it continued. At least 320,000 transactions for a total of more than 140 million euros with first four and then five percent commission for the couple had been transacted. Payment had been made partly with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The investigation was conducted by the Central Criminal Investigation Department Oldenburg.
Criminal business in the bunker
The 34-year-old Australian is said to have been the administrator of the marketplace, who unlocked the sellers as well as supervised and paid several as yet unidentified accomplices. His 32-year-old wife is said to have been responsible for DarkMarket’s design and for settling disputes between sellers and customers. Both still reside in Australia, according to Attorney General Juergen Brauer, but had been “on a long-term tour of Europe” with a school-age child.
According to Brauer, the illegal marketplace is said to have been started in June 2019 in the so-called cyber bunker in Traben-Trarbach on the Moselle. In the old bunker, a gang is said to have operated an illegal data center for criminal business in the darknet for years before. In September 2019, hundreds of police officers excavated the underground cyber bunker. A trial against eight suspected operators has been underway in Trier for some time. In the case of DarkMarket, investigators eventually seized more than 20 servers in Moldova and Ukraine. According to Brauer, DarkMarket’s data is said to have been moved there after the cyberbunker was shut down.