The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has apprehended a suspect accused of operating an online platform that played host to cybercriminal acts – including the trading of personal information and data theft.
The suspect, Russian national Krill Victorovivh Firsov, was apprehended on March 7 following the issuance of an arrest warrant by a district court.
The FBI alleged that Firsov served as the admin of the online platform Deer.io since 2013. In a complaint, the Bureau accused the suspect of enabling the illegal attempt to obtain access devices, including abetting the possession and distribution of fake authentication features – a criminal charge that may expose the accused to a 10-year prison sentence.
Investigators uncovered the fact that the online forum operated in the guise of a legitimate online store. Otherwise, it was discovered that the platform served the interests of cybercriminals looking to trade in stolen identities and other categories of sensitive personal identifiable information.
According to an indictment, Deer.io hosted about 24,000 active stores that engaged in serious business – garnering sales that ran into millions of dollars, trading hacked accounts for online platforms such as Facebook, streaming services like Netflix, and the sale of fake social media accounts to be used by criminals in online dating scams.
It is reported that FBI success in the investigation was due to their undercover operation in which agents bought personal data on Deer.io stores – which included Social Security credentials, residential addresses and people’s birth dates.
Further information intimated that Deer.io offered a hosting platform on Russian servers that are well beyond the reach of U.S. authorities. Apart from aiding cybercrooks to market and vend their products and services, it is said that the forum provided professional assistance on criminal hacking.
During the undercover operation, FBI agents are reported to have purchased about 1,100 hacked gamer accounts from a Deer.io store after spending less that $20 worth of bitcoin. This purchase earned the agency a cache of usernames and passwords that would accord them the privilege of buying services from the gamer accounts, which would be expensed to the real owners.
How It Worked
According to court documents, the active stores on the platform produced about $17million in rent revenue. Buying an online store to sell criminal wares and services attracted a $11-per-month cost. On purchase, Deer.io directed a vendor to an automated setup that would function to upload their listings and configure their crypto wallets that would be used in payments.
A crook that aims to buy from the Deer.io stores can do so via a regular web browser, eliminating the need to go through the trouble of delving deep into the darknet spaces. In fact, the search has a simple search function that allows buyers to look for compromised accounts from a list of companies or personal data from a number of countries.
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