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Russia Shuts Down 3 Dark Websites With $263M in Digital Currency Revenue

Russian authorities have cracked down on another batch of dark websites, this time targeting online marketplaces for stolen credit card information. Three marketplaces were shut down in the last campaign, which together generated $263 million in digital currency revenue.

According to a report by British blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, the Russian Interior Ministry has taken down three marketplaces – Trump’s Dumps, UAS Store and Ferum Shop – as well as online stolen card forum Sky-Fraud.

Ferum Shop was the main target, with Elliptic revealing it was the world’s largest stolen credit card market before it was seized.

Marketplaces cater to what is one of the oldest vices of the online criminal underground: carding. This is where hackers steal payment card details of hundreds of millions of victims through online retailers, banks and other means. They then sell them on dark web marketplaces where customers use them to buy big-ticket items or gift cards, which they sell for cash.

While profitable on its own, carding is also widely used to launder digital assets obtained from all forms of cybercrime, Elliptic notes.

Ferum Shop rose to the top of the carding market pyramid when former market leader UniCC was closed in January. The market, which debuted in 2013, brought in around $256 million in digital currencies, which represents around 17% of the entire stolen credit card market.

Trump’s Dumps specializes in selling magnetic stripe raw data from compromised cards and has grossed $4.1 million since its launch in October 2017. The market has gained notice for its use of the image of the controversial former US president, with his slogan being “Make Dumps Great Again.”

Image courtesy of Elliptic

Sky-Fraud was not a marketplace, but a forum where hackers and their customers communicated and shared money laundering tips, authorities said. When Russian authorities seized the site, they left an emoji in the source code, which translated to: “Which of you is next?”

The message was similar to one left on UniCC, which at the time of its seizure was the largest card market in the world and had earned $372 million in digital currencies.

The crackdown comes just weeks after Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) busted REvil, one of the world’s most destructive ransomware gangs. As CoinGeek reported, the group allegedly received over $200 million in extortion payments via digital currencies in recent years.

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