BERLIN (AP) — Police in three European countries have raided dozens of homes and offices linked to suspected cybercriminals, including the alleged operators of a secret forum used to trade illicit wares, officials said Wednesday.
More than 1,000 investigators searched over 120 premises across Germany late Tuesday in connection with crimenetwork.biz, a so-called darknet site that is allegedly used to buy and sell stolen goods, drugs and medication.
The darknet is a part of the internet hosted within an encrypted network and accessible only through specialized anonymity-providing tools, most notably the Tor Browser.
German federal police said in a statement that the raids followed a four-month criminal probe during which investigators sifted through over a million posts and private messages exchanged by some 260 members of the darknet forum.
It said that 153 members of the forum were identified, including 11 people considered to be part of the "leadership level" who now face charges of forming a criminal organization.
In a separate set of raids Tuesday, police in Germany, Latvia and Britain on Tuesday targeted 10 premises and 12 people suspected of stealing money from online banking customers in Germany.
Prosecutors in Frankfurt said the suspects used so-called phishing attacks to gain access to victims' passwords and then obtained duplicate SIM cards for their cellphones.
Using those SIM cards they were able to receive text messages from the victims' bank containing an authorization code needed for money transfers.
Prosecutors said the main suspect is a 34-year-old Belarusian citizen who was arrested in Frankfurt in February. A 27-year-old dual citizen of Kazakhstan and Germany was arrested Tuesday, as was a 47-year-old Moldovan citizen living in London.