Dark Website "AlphaBay" Shut Down by The Justice Department

Hackers, cybercriminals, and online dealers in contraband have relied on an internet marketplace known as the “Dark Web” to conduct illegal business.

If you don’t know where the Dark Web is located, don’t worry… there’s very little chance that you’ll accidentally stumble upon it. It’s long been the domain of online drug dealers, child pornographers, human traffickers, and other criminal enterprises.

The anonymity of the internet has made such a seedy underbelly of the world wide web possible, giving criminals the tools they need to extend their reach to global criminal syndicates. For years, this kind of activity was seen as an unstoppable evil due to the fact that the perpetrators could literally be anywhere in the world.

The Justice Department, however, has just announced a major accomplishment in stopping the spread of internet crime. According to a public statement by the Department of Justice, Alexandre Cazes aka Alpha02 and Admin, a Canadian citizen living in Thailand, was arrested by Thai authorities acting under orders of the United States. He is known to be the originator and ongoing administrator of one of the more notorious corners of the Dark Web, a site called AlphaBay.

How big is this issue? According to the statement, “Prior to its takedown, one AlphaBay staff member claimed that it serviced over 200,000 users and 40,000 vendors.  Around the time of takedown, there were over 250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals on AlphaBay, and over 100,000 listings for stolen and fraudulent identification documents and access devices, counterfeit goods, malware and other computer hacking tools, firearms and fraudulent services. Comparatively, the Silk Road dark web marketplace, which was seized by law enforcement in November 2013, had reportedly approximately 14,000 listings for illicit goods and services at the time of seizure and was the largest dark web marketplace at the time.”

Since the earliest days of the internet all the way through recent years, investigating cyber crime was daunting due to the tools that allow criminals to mask their identities, reroute their traffic to appear to be in different countries, and more. That’s why so many victims of crimes like identity theft have faced years of frustration, knowing that their perpetrators may never be held accountable for their crimes. Breakthroughs like this one show just how far we’ve come in the recognition of cyber crime, and in the technology to fight back against hackers, identity thieves, and Dark Web businessmen.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

Read next: A Fish Tank Was Almost the End of an Entire Casino

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