A 17-country police sting codenamed "Operation Cookie Monster" and led by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Dutch National Police has led to the closure of what is said to be the largest illicit market on the so-called darknet — networks using the internet but that are difficult to locate and where it is easier to conceal your identity and location.
Authorities conducted more than 200 searches and made 120 arrests while also engaging in widespread "preventative activity."
Speaking of the sting's success, Rob Jones of the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) said, "We assess that the Genesis is one of the most significant access marketplaces anywhere in the world."
Europe's Europol police agency on Wednesday called the Genesis Market, "one of the most dangerous marketplaces selling stolen account credentials to hackers worldwide."
On Wednesday, the site was plastered over with a digital banner announcing that domains belonging to Genesis had been seized.
Britain's NCA estimates Genesis had stolen more than 80 million credentials and digital fingerprints from over two million individuals.
The site, which had been active since 2018, specialized in the sale of digital products that had been stolen with the help of so-called malware. Such digital products can allow criminals to bypass security measures such as multi-factor authentication or device fingerprinting.
Authorities say users only had to know of the site in order to purchase stolen identities, which were sold for anywhere from fractions of pennies to hundreds of dollars depending on their importance and availability.
Law enforcement teams from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland were among those participating in the sting.
In Germany, the country's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) said it conducted raids in all 16 states, netting 58 arrests. Those who were apprehended were primarily purchasers of stolen data according to German authorities.
Numerous electronic devices were also seized. These will now be evaluated by digital criminal experts.