FBI Fakes Cybercrime Forum, Nets 56 Arrests

by Devanshu Mehta

This is pretty awesome. The FBI ran a cybercrime forum called DarkMarket for two years, silently watching hundreds of “cybercriminals” walk in to their trap.

DarkMarket allowed buyers and sellers of stolen identities and credit card data to meet and do business in an entrepreneurial, peer-reviewed environment. It had 2,500 users at its peak, according to the FBI.[…]

The leader of the site, know online as Master Splynter, was in fact FBI cybercrime agent J. Keith Mularski, part of an elite seven-agent cybercrime unit based at the National Cyber Forensics Training Alliance in Pittsburgh.  DarkMarket members believed the site was operated from Eastern Europe, despite a 2006 warning from uber-hacker Max Ray Butler, known then as Iceman and Aphex. Butler cracked the site’s server and announced that he’d caught Master Splynter logging in from the NCFTA’s office on the banks of the Monongahela River. […]

It remains unclear whether Mularski took over the identity of a real cyberscammer, or if Master Splynter was his invention from the start.

You can’t make this stuff up! The always brilliant Threat Level blog has many more details.

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