DarkMarket carder forum revealed as FBI sting
Leaked documents have confirmed that carder forum DarkMarket was actually an FBI sting operation.
For the last two years until its shutdown earlier this month DarkMarket.ws posed as a forum where identity thieves, credit card fraudsters, crackers and other ne'er do wells could hang out and exchange tips as well as trading hacker tools and stolen data. In reality, the site was run by Federal agents based in Pittsburgh.
The true identity of the site was revealed by Südwestrundfunk, a German public radio station, Wired reports. The station unearthed documents showing that one of the site's overlord, Master Splynter, who posed as a spammer, was senior cybercrime agent J Keith Mularski. The DarkMarket sting was instrumental in trapping a German credit card hacker active on its forums.
DarkMarket offered a place to flog stolen credit card information and identities, hardware, and credit card magstripe swipes. The English-language site looked like somewhere the bad guys could get pointers on the quality of stolen information, harvested through phishing scams and the like, before buying goods.
Leaked documents show that the FBI had run DarkMarket as a sting since November 2006. A memo from FBI cybersleuths to their German counterparts boasts that the "FBI has been successful in penetrating the inner 'family' of the carding forum, DarkMarket". In an email dating from March 2007 FBI agent Mularski bluntly states "Master Splynter is me".
Federal agents used intelligence from the site to develop intelligence reports and mount investigations. It's unclear how many miscreants were busted as a result of the sting. Further arrests may follow and cybercrooks that frequented the forum are likely to be peering nervously over their shoulders.
Master Splynter announced his intention to close the site from 4 October, supposedly because a Turkish ATM fraudster was drawing "unwelcome attention" to the site. The Turkish hacker (Cha0) was marketing an ATM skimming device - fairly standard activity on the site - but he became famous after allegedly kidnapping and torturing a police informant. Local police arrested a suspect, named as Cagatay Evyapan, last month.
Rumours that DarkMarket was a federal sting were known to more clued-up crackers since the latter part of 2006, after a hacker reported evidence that Master Splynter had logged in from the National Cyber Forensics Training Alliance in Pittsburgh. Some dismissed the warning by Max Ray Butler as mud-slinging and continued to use the forum, even after Butler was arrested last year in a case handled by the FBI's Pittsburgh office.
The DarkMarket sting is rare but not unprecedented in US law enforcement circles. The US Secret Service placed an informant in the infamous ShadowCrew cybercrime forum four years ago, but the scheme backfired after the alleged source went on to commit more crimes. ®
re: Research, anyone?
>> does knowing how to burgle a property make them a villain?
you obviously haven't been studying laws brought in by the UK's government - having notes on how to commit a terrorist attack can get you on charges of having material likely to aid terrorists which will obviously only be applied to terrorists like Icelandic companies, so how long before knowing how to burgle a property is squeezed into the fold
Some stings are OK...
I don't have a problem with this sort of sting, as it catches morons who are defrauding people out of their hard-earned money, which could include any of us. Where I have a problem with stings is when they're designed to protect people from themselves, such as prostitution or drug stings. Not that I think either of those things are good ideas, but I think people who are free should have a right to be stupid as long as it has a relatively minimal effect on others.
Re: AC - Stings are evil
"Media should blow the cover on these as often as possible."
Sorry, I don't agree for something like this. The only people actively participating on a forum such as that are going to be active / wannabe scammers.
Doesn't mean I agree with stings / entrapment in the majority of cases, but in this case, the cover should never have been blown.
However, if the FBI were that good, the cover would never have been blown anyway!
Paris, coz talking about being blown somehow made me think of her....