German Federal Police Takes Down Dark Web Marketplace Hydra

The Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office, announced the official takedown of Hydra, the world’s largest illicit dark web marketplace, which has overall facilitated more than $5 billion in Bitcoin transactions.

“Bitcoins worth roughly €23 million were confiscated and linked to the marketplace,” the BKA stated in a statement. The seizure took place on April 5, 2022, in a series of 88 transactions totaling 543.3 BTC, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic.

Hydra was shut down as a result of a lengthy investigation operation led by the Central Office for Combating Cybercrime (ZIT) in collaboration with US law enforcement authorities that began in August 2021.

German Federal Police Takes Down Dark Web Marketplace Hydra

Hydra was a Russian-language darknet marketplace that first appeared in 2015 as a competitor to the now-defunct Russian Anonymous Marketplace (aka RAMP), which was known for its high-traffic narcotics market before expanding to offer counterfeit documents and stolen credit cards.

In a May 2021 report, Flashpoint stated, “Cybercriminals now use it to conduct illicit sales of stolen credit cards, SIM cards, and counterfeit documents and IDs, among other offerings — as well as to obfuscate their own digital transactions through regional exchanges and extended money laundering tactics.

“By the end of 2021, Hydra’s yearly transaction volumes are expected to have surpassed $1.6 billion, a stunning increase from $6.6 million in 2016. According to the BKA, the marketplace has around 17 million client accounts and over 19,000 seller accounts.

The dark web company, which is thought to have produced $424.2 million in revenue in the first three months of 2022, also had a Bitcoin Bank Mixer, which obscured all digital transactions performed on the platform, making it difficult for law enforcement organizations to monitor cryptocurrency trails.

“The platform and the illicit content have been seized by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office in Frankfurt am Main in the course of an international coordinated law enforcement action,” reads a seizure banner on the marketplace website.

Hydra’s demise comes after law enforcement efforts against criminal marketplaces, including UniCC, Canadian HeadQuarters, and four Russian carding shops that specialized in the sale of stolen credit cards: Ferum Shop, Sky-Fraud, Trump’s Dumps, and UAS.

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