The FBI says that the alleged founder and chief administrator of the notorious international cybercrime marketplace RaidForums has been arrested in the United Kingdom.
Diogo Santos Coelho, 21, of Portugal, was arrested in January following a request from American law enforcement, which is seeking to have him extradited.
Coelho’s two alleged accomplices were also detained, according to Europol. And the other was a 21-year-old from Croydon, south London.
According to the US, RaidForums “served as a major online marketplace for individuals to buy and sell hacked or stolen databases” on the open web.
Aside from raidforums.com, the DOJ said it seized three other hacker domains – Rf.ws, and Raid.lol. A smartphone, tablet, laptop, and a Yubico authentication device are also seized, along with $215,571 from his alleged offenses.
Operation Tourniquet coordinated several independent investigations into the illegal site, including those from the US, UK, Sweden, Portugal, and Romania.
What is Raidforums?
The US affidavit and indictment claim RaidForums was used “to offer for sale hundreds of databases of stolen data containing more than 10 billion unique records”.
“At the time of its founding in 2015, RaidForums also operated as an online venue for organizing and supporting forms of electronic harassment,” stated the Department of Justice.
People used this community for coordinated raids, but they also used “swatting,” which is “the practice of making false reports to public safety agencies of situations that would require a significant, and immediate armed law enforcement response.” This practice has led to deaths.
How did they get caught after so many years?
Anonymising technologies might make it difficult for authorities to investigate communities.
The FBI “obtained a copy of the back-end database for RaidForums” according to court records.
“Our interagency efforts to dismantle this sophisticated online platform – which facilitated a wide range of criminal activity – should come as a relief to the millions victimized by it,” said Jessica Aber, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Ms. Aber called this operation “a message to cybercriminals who participated in these types of illicit acts,” adding that “Online anonymity was not able to protect the defendant in this case from prosecution, and it will not protect other online criminals either.”
Meanwhile, the UK’s National Crime Agency arrested a “21-year-old Croydon resident” in March and later released him under investigation.
The raid on RaidForums comes days after the German authorities shut down Russian darknet marketplace Hydra, notorious for selling stolen credit and SIM cards, VPN access, and bitcoin laundering services. Despite no confirmed arrests, the German Federal Criminal Police seized 543 bitcoins worth over $25 million.