Darkode Goes Dark: Members Charged as "Cybercriminals"

Reports are coming in that an investigation led by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Pittsburgh, and supported by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), has resulted in the shut down of online forum Darkode.com and the arrest of 12 people in connection with the invitation-only web portal.1

Calling Darkode "one of the gravest threats to the integrity of data on computers in the United States," U.S. Attorney David Hickton worked with authorities in 20 countries2 to bring down the "cybercriminal" hub under the umbrella of "Operation Shrouded Horizon."

Evidently feeling quite proud of himself, Europol’s Director Rob Wainwright made the following comment in a press release:

Today’s global action caused significant disruption to the underground economy, and is a stark reminder that private forums are no sanctuary for criminals and are not beyond the reach of law enforcement. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to make cyberspace as crime-free as possible for the world’s citizens.

Darkode's users, including administrator Johan Anders Gudmunds of Sweden, aka Synthet!c, stand accused of an impressive list of crimes ranging from wire fraud to money laundering to selling and using malware to conspiring to commit computer fraud to using botnets to send spam e-mails to DDoS attacks to selling stolen credit cards and personal credentials.

Though Director Wainright made no mention of the elephant in the room, #bitcoin-assets, having a public log would appear to disqualify the IRC-based home of Bitcoin from this particular definition of "cybercriminal organisation." Though, as ever with this made-up language for what amounts to free market operations, definitions are intentionally vague and flexible.

  1. Europol is reporting "28 arrests, 37 house searches, and numerous seizures of computers and other equipment," though whether these figure include the 12 counted by the U.S. Justice Department or is in addition to that remains unclear. 
  2. Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Colombia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Israel, Latvia, Nigeria, Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Serbia, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the USA. 

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