An international policing operation has seen the seizure of infamous hacking website RaidForums along with the arrest of its alleged 21-year-old administrator.
RaidForums was easily accessed for the general public, as far as hacking forums go, because it wasn’t hosted on the dark web and thus became a popular site for would-be hackers and cybercriminals to gather, share stolen credentials, leak exfiltrated data, and sell their expertise.
The US-led operation saw the arrest of 21-year-old Diogo Santos Coelho, a Portugese national who was allegedly the chief administrator from 2015 until earlier this year.
Coelho was arrested in the UK in late January and is awaiting extradition to the US where he will face six charges related to fraud, conspiracy, and “aggravated identity theft”.
“The takedown of this online market for the resale of hacked or stolen data disrupts one of the major ways cybercriminals profit from the large-scale theft of sensitive personal and financial information,” said US Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polit in a statement.
“This is another example of how working with our international law enforcement partners has resulted in the shutdown of a criminal marketplace and the arrest of its administrator.”
RaidForums was originally used to co-ordinate online raids, a harassment technique in which a group of people flood a target – another forum, blog, or comments section, for example – with often disturbing material.
It was also used to organise “swatting” attacks, a potentially deadly form of online harassment in which the attackers lodge false reports to law enforcement that causes them to dramatically barge into the victim’s home, often while they are in the middle of a live stream.
A placeholder image now adorns the RaidForums website.
Over the years, RaidForums evolved from a culture of juvenile bullying to become a fully-fledged home for cybercriminals facilitating hacker-for-hire operations and the sale of stolen data.
In mid-2021, hackers who stole the video game source code and software development kits from developer Electronic Arts (EA) tried selling the 780GB of data for an initial price of US$28 million.
Coelho allegedly profited from RaidForums by charging for access to different parts of the site and by offering a middleman service, acting as an intermediary between sellers and buyers on the forum.
According to unsealed documents provided by the US Justice Department, Coelho incriminated himself through posts on the forum and by selling illicit products to undercover agents.
In one instance, he gave law enforcement detailed information about three stolen credit cards as a sample of a larger set of data that was on sale for a small amount of Bitcoin.
RaidForums is the latest site to be knocked offline in a police operation.
Earlier this month, German law enforcement took down Russian-language dark web marketplace Hydra, seizing $33 million in Bitcoin in the process.
Like RaidForums, Hydra had been operating since 2015. German authorities found around 17 million customer accounts on the site along with 19,000 belonging to sellers.
One of its most popular services was a Bitcoin tumbler used to scramble the history of any given Bitcoin in order to obfuscate its connection with illicit activity and evade law enforcement.