3 min Security

Dutch ringleader of Genesis Market arrested

Dutch ringleader of Genesis Market arrested

Police announced that it has apprehended an alleged ringleader in the illegal trading site Genesis Market. The arrest involves a 32-year-old Dutchman who lives in Brazil, but was arrested in the Dutch city of Barendrecht.

The Dutchman will be detained for at least two weeks, Dutch police reports. “He was at the top of the list of Dutch suspects because he was believed to be trading on a large scale for the Genesis Market,” the press release said. A total of 17 arrests have already been made in the Netherlands as part of a global investigation against the criminal market known as Operation Cookie Monster.

Identity theft

This Genesis Market capture is a significant one, according to police. In early April, authorities in several countries took down this illegal website. The platform mainly traded in “bots,” a collective name for a victim’s cookie data and digital fingerprint. As a result, the data up for trade involved much more than just login credentials: copying this fingerprint allows users to access the Internet as if they’re using the victim’s browser. The consequences for such victims can lead to enormous financial losses.

By stealing these digital credentials, a cybercriminal can go in many directions. This data can be used to drain bank accounts and extract private information, among various other malicious practices. In the case of Genesis Market, the unique selling point was about collecting this data and then reselling it. What further set Genesis Market apart was its user-friendliness: a neat interface, extensive search functions and even a customer service centre could all assist the user. Thus, the most valuable bots could be looked up to make cybercrime as fast and efficient as possible. It is an example of the professionalization that has taken place among malicious actors online. Whereas before hackers mostly used the stolen data themselves, in this scenario criminals could already earn their living by trading data that they themselves did nothing with.

Read more: Genesis Market: how did it operate and how was it taken down?

More arrests

At the Cybercrime Team of the Dutch police force, Ruben van Well says what the allegations are against the 32-year-old man. “We suspect that this man has spent tens of thousands of euros on the market and is therefore the largest Dutch user of the Genesis Market and possibly even among the top 10 largest users worldwide.” He states that victims include those who have lost tens of thousands of euros.

Van Well continues: “Users of the platform were already warned after the site was taken offline that more arrests would follow. In fact, we, together with the FBI, have a wealth of information about the buyers of the market. On the Internet, you always leave traces, even if you use a VPN and also if payment takes place via cryptocurrency. The investigation is still in full swing and more arrests are not ruled out even now.”