DOJ seizes popular hacking forum

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The Justice Department on Tuesday took control of a popular hacking forum in a coordinated effort with foreign authorities to crack down on illegal cyber activity.

The RaidForums website is a large online marketplace where cyber criminals buy and sell stolen data that contains personal and financial information, including sort and account numbers, credit card information, login credentials, and social security numbers.

The DOJ also indicted the forum’s founder and chief administrator, Diogo Santos Coelho, who is originally from Portugal. Coelho was arrested in the UK in January and faces extradition to the US. He was charged with six counts, including conspiracy, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft, related to his role as the forum’s chief administrator.

“Breaking up this online market for the resale of hacked or stolen data disrupts one of the key ways cybercriminals are profiting from the large-scale theft of sensitive personal and financial information,” Kenneth Polite, assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, said in a statement.

The RaidForums seizure is the latest arrest of cybercriminals by US and foreign authorities. Just last week, the Ministry of Finance sanctioned Russia’s largest dark web market, Hydra Market, for involvement in cybercrime and other illegal activities.

Hydra, launched in 2015, is implicated in ransomware, hacking, identity theft, counterfeit currency, and illegal drugs. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said it identified about $8 million in ransomware proceeds going through Hydra’s virtual currency accounts.

The DOJ also accused Coelho of personally selling stolen data on the platform and facilitating illegal transactions while working as a middleman between RaidForums members.

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