Global operation brings down hackers leaked data market

WASHINGTON (AP) — Western law enforcement agencies have dismantled an online marketplace that bought and sold hacked and stolen personal information from millions of people and charged the platform’s founder and chief administrator, officials said Tuesday.

Authorities say the RaidForums website was trafficked with hundreds of databases of sensitive data, including credit card and social security numbers and bank account information, that were hacked or stolen from victims.

In addition to seizing three domains hosting the site, officials also arrested 21-year-old Diogo Santos Coelho, from Portugal, who prosecutors say controlled and managed the platform between 2015 and this past January when he was in the United States in Kingdom was taken into custody. The US is seeking his extradition to federal court in Alexandria, Virginia on charges including conspiracy, access device fraud and aggravated identity.

“Breaking up this online market for the resale of hacked or stolen data disrupts one of the key ways cybercriminals are profiting from the large-scale theft of sensitive personal and financial information,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., chief of the criminal division Justice Department said in a statement.

Launched in 2015, the site offered special access and features to paying members and allowed members to earn credits, including by posting instructions on how to commit illegal acts, officials said.

“Disruptive has always been a key technique in combating online threat actors. Therefore, attacking forums hosting massive amounts of stolen data keeps criminals on their toes,” said Edvardas Šileris, head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre. “Europol will continue to work with its international partners to make committing cybercrime more difficult – and riskier.”

The FBI and Justice Department, along with other Western law enforcement agencies including Europol and agencies in Sweden, Portugal, Germany and the UK, were involved in the operation.


Associated Press writer Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, contributed to this report.

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