Police from around the world shut down the biggest active black market on the dark web this month, according to announcements from law enforcement agencies in the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands released on Friday.
Wall Street Market, as the black market site was known, was the target of a 1.5-year-long multinational investigation. Three Germans were arrested on April 23 and 24 inside Germany for their alleged role in creating and administering the site that sold illegal drugs, documents, weapons, and data.
“WSM was one of the largest and most voluminous darknet marketplaces of all time,” FBI Special Agent Leroy Shelton wrote in the criminal complaint released on Friday.
Wall Street Market had 1.15 million customer accounts and 5,400 registered sellers, according to the U.S. Justice Department. However, don’t take those numbers to be accurate census accounts—users are anonymous, sellers and buyers both often create multiple accounts, and there’s no way to get a realistic count on the number of individuals active on a market like this.
A better way to understand the scale of a black market like this is to look at the actual money involved. Last month, Wall Street Market administrators stole around $11 million from user accounts, authorities say.
“An ‘exit scam’ was allegedly conducted last month when the WSM administrators took all of the virtual currency held in marketplace escrow and user accounts—believed by investigators to be approximately $11 million—and then diverted the money to their own accounts.