An Australian man is accused of running a $220million illegal darkweb marketplace which has been called the biggest in the world and ‚eBay for criminals‘.
A joint investigation by Australian Federal Police, Scotland Yard, the FBI, Europol, and German authorities, among others, led to the arrest of the Queensland man, 34, as he tried to cross the Danish border into Germany this week.
The man, known only as Julian K, is the alleged operator of DarkMarket and has been detained by German investigators.
A screenshot of the illegal website allegedly run by the Australian man which displays drugs for sale (pictured)
DarkMarket was shut down on Monday and its servers, located in Ukraine and Moldova, were taken off the internet, prosecutors in the city of Koblenz said.
‚Until its closure, DarkMarket was probably the largest marketplace worldwide on the darknet, with almost 500,000 users and more than 2400 sellers,‘ prosecutors said.
More than 320,000 transactions were conducted via the website including the sale of drugs, counterfeit money, stolen or falsified credit cards, anonymous SIM cards and malware.
The transactions were reportedly worth a total of 4,650 bitcoin sv wallet and 12,800 monero – two cryptocurrencies – for an equivalent sum of more than $221million.
The servers will be forensically examined by authorities to uncover information about the website’s operations and criminal network.
The accused man has already fronted a German court and been denied bail – to be transferred to a German prison in the next few days.
He has reportedly refused to speak to investigators or court officials.
The man was arrested at the Danish and German border after a joint international investigation (stock image)
German prosecutors said the man was trying to flee Denmark into Germany when arrested and was travelling through Europe either on holiday or conducting business for the illegal website.
They said the investigation around DarkMarket originated after the discovery of a data processing centre run by organised criminals in a 5,000sqm former NATO bunker in south-west Germany.
The data facility hosted illegal websites, which included DarkMarket temporarily, and was shut down in 2019.
The darkweb was originally developed for the United States military but has been overrun by criminals because they can conceal their identity on the platform.