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Published: Fri, July 21, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Hansa marketplace shuttered along with AlphaBay

Hansa marketplace shuttered along with AlphaBay

The dark web, or dark net, is part of the internet only accessible using special software, servers, and authorizations. Transactions were made in bitcoin and other crypto currencies.

AlphaBay launched in December 2014 and boasted more than 200,000 members and 40,000 vendors. The website had 100,000 listings for sale when the governments took it down.

A market place called The Dream Market is the second largest, with Hansa the third. No weapons or child pornography were sold on Hansa Market.

"This is an outstanding success by authorities in Europe and the U.S.", Rob Wainwright, the executive director of Europol, said at the Thursday news conference in Washington, where he appeared alongside the U.S. Attorney General, the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the deputy director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Europol said that the coordinated action ranks as one of the most sophisticated takedown operations ever seen in the fight against criminal activities online. US officials said they are aware of and investigating hundreds of services for secret online transactions of drugs and illicit goods.

In a separate action, United States and Canadian authorities seized the servers of the AlphaBay market on July 4, shutting it down a day later.

The first shutdown sent shockwaves through the darknet community, with many users fleeing to the rival Hansa Market. "Some 10 000 foreign addresses of Hansa market buyers were passed on to Europol", Europol said in a statement.

Sessions asserted that his department's work is not yet finished and issued a warning to people still ready to engage in illegal activity on the dark web. After the fallout in early July, Wilson said former moderators and well-known users were left in confusion. But on Thursday, European law enforcement revealed that a second website known as Hansa had also been in police hands for the past month, an announcement apparently created to sow panic among tech-savvy dealers and buyers.

According to Europol, Dutch police took control of Hamsa about a month ago, and when AlphaBay closed its doors, police observed an eightfold increase in users. "If you've bought a small bag of weed for personal consumption you'll be a low priority for Europol, but anyone that bought a kilogram of MDMA, clearly not for personal consumption, is likely to get a knock on their door pretty soon", says Hernandez-Castro.

But that's just one chapter in the fight against illegal online transactions.

The shutdown came as part of an global law enforcement operation between intelligence officials in the USA and Europe, with attorney general Jeff Sessions lauding the successful operation.

"There are some criminals that think of cybercrime as a freebie", McCabe said.

Trump also told the New York Times that a conversation he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a dinner at the Group of 20 summit in Germany earlier this month lasted about 15 minutes and was mostly about "pleasantries".

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