Darkweb Stolen Credit Card Site Operators 'Retire'

John Lister's picture

The people behind an online service for buying and selling stolen credit card details say they are retiring for health reasons. The unknown owners reportedly made $358 million from their "marketplace."

The UniCC service operated on a so-called darknet, only accessible through special software designed to make it much harder to track who visited which online service.

The BBC notes that the site had operated since 2013 and estimates users listed "tens of thousands" of stolen card details every day. It appears to have been particularly popular for criminals who had carried out major data breaches on card databases. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Fees Make Fortune

Users had to pay a fee to use the marketplace. The payments were in cryptocurrencies which mean that although the identities of those involved are unknown, the fee payments can be tracked. Researchers say that adding up payments in four major cryptocurrencies, the UniCC operators have taken at least $358 million.

Now the operators have posted to say they are closing down the site because "We are not young and our health do not allow to work like this any longer."

According to the BBC, such sites commonly closed in an "exit scam" where the operators disappeared with fees without providing the services. However, in recent years several major "darknet marketplaces" have closed in a more controlled manner, winding up the "service" voluntarily.

Getting Out While Going Good

It appears in many cases the operators are feeling the heat of previous high-profile law enforcement campaigns that target darknet marketplaces. Others operators that have closed down specialized in letting users sell other illicit goods including counterfeit cash and illegal drugs.

Officials say they are pleased to see major players giving up their criminal activity but disappointed they have not - yet - faced justice. (Source: pcmag.com)

However, analysts point out that whenever such marketplaces close down, others either spring up or expand to take other the business. Indeed, that's why UniCC appears to have had its most lucrative year ever in 2021.

What's Your Opinion?

Is it worth law enforcement officials targeting such sites? Could it make it harder for people to sell stolen card details and thus deter the original hacking? Or is such crime inevitable, making it a game of whack-a-mole?

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