New Zealand Police has taken part in simultaneous enforcement action overnight as agencies from multiple countries targeted an illicit online marketplace selling stolen digital identities.
This operation, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Dutch National Police, and coordinated from Europol, sees the takedown of Genesis Market.
The website offered up the online credentials of victims whose devices had been infected by malware or account takeover attacks.
Criminals would gain access to information such as cookies, saved logins and autofill form data after making a purchase through the site. The offerings ranged in scale, with the higher end including access to online bank accounts.
At the time of the operation terminating, it had listed for sale the identities of more than 2 million people around the globe.
Detective Inspector Stuart Mills says the New Zealand phase of the operation got underway in the early hours of Wednesday morning (NZST) in central Auckland.
“Investigation staff from Auckland City’s Financial Crime Unit and the national Cybercrime Unit, supported by other specialist staff, terminated a search warrant at an address.” Says Detective Inspector Mills.
“A 30-year-old man located at the address has been arrested and a further search carried out.”
Police will allege this man had purchased dozens of stolen credentials from Genesis Market, Detective Inspector Mills says. Investigations are continuing to establish how those credentials have been then used to commit fraud on a wider scale.
The man is facing multiple charges of accessing a computer for a dishonest purpose with additional charges are being considered.
“Cybercrime, particularly cyber-based fraud, continues to be an issue globally for law enforcement and creates a significant deal of harm and distress for its victims,” says Detective Inspector Mills.
“This was a significant global operation which has seen a large number of law enforcement agencies from around the world take part in dismantling this illicit marketplace.
“New Zealand Police continues to work very closely with our international partners as we continue to target organised criminal operations such as these and prevent the serious harm they cause.”
Genesis Market was enabled by sophisticated malware used to infect victims’ computers and harvest personal data. This information was then made accessible on the open web, albeit hidden behind invitation-only access.
“Once information was purchased from Genesis Market, a user could emulate a victim’s online accounts which would enable them to commit further fraud offending,” says Detective Inspector Mills.
• How can you keep yourself safe?
It’s more important than ever that we remain vigilant while using our electronic devices, as criminals constantly find new ways to target innocent victims.
• Always be wary with unexpected emails or suspicious links contained within emails or text messages
• When browsing the internet and do not click on suspicious links or pop up boxes
• Only download official versions of software from trusted websites
• Use unique passwords for different websites or services
• Use antivirus software on your devices and ensure these are kept up to date
• If a website or service offers multifactor authentication, use this wherever possible
Above all, remember that if a financial or job opportunity presented to you in any form sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Jarred Williamson/NZ Police