Russian police busted a highly-organized crime ring that sold over $13 million in bogus cash over the dark web. The criminals allegedly used dark web market Hydra to associate with the buyers, accepting payment only in digital currencies. Police have been investigating the outfit because of 2019 when they noticed a rise in the use of high-quality fake notes.
The operation included several dozen people, Russian business newspaper Kommersant has revealed. Citing sources at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which runs the police service, claimed that the operation was based in Nizhny Novgorod, a city in western Russia. The operation has been ongoing since last year, once the first high-quality fake notes were detected.
This highly-organized operation relied on secrecy, with the members Only communicating through Hydra, the largest Russian dark web marketplace. Hydra is only accessible via the Tor browser also hides the users’ IP addresses. The users just knew each other by their online nicknames. This made the participants quite tough to trace for the police.
Once the buyer made the payment in digital currencies, The money printers would dispatch the fake notes via a transport company to Moscow. Accomplices in Moscow would then obtain the notes and place them in strategic hiding places in a neighborhood deserted park. They would send the coordinates to the customers who would then come and pick their fake notes.
The criminals offered the bogus Russian rubles for a percentage of the face value. The operation has been continuing for close to a year now, the police say. In that time, they’ve completed over 3,000 trades on Hydra and printed more than a billion rubles ($13.2 million).
The police have arrested three leaders of the crime ring–Oleg Efimov, Andrei Skvortsov, and Ivan Aferov. During the arrest, the police also seized two sets of printing equipment, mock-ups of banknotes, a laminator, threads, and laptops for gluing emblems into banknotes and blanks. The three pleaded guilty for their crimes, according to reports. Police also detained other accomplices, including a 25-year-old girl from Moscow who created and maintained the dakr web marketplace.
Hydra has a background in digital currencies. In December 2019, the marketplace launched a token sale, Seeking to raise $146 million to expand its business. Each token, known As Eternos, was going for $100 and entitled the holder to the dark web marketplace’s profits. Hydra claimed that it needed to build a global dark web marketplace with a built-in messaging service, digital currency Exchange, anonymous browser, and much more.