After an 18-month long federal probe, the Justice Department has effectively dismantled an Internet-based marketplace for hackers. Darkode, a website where computer hackers sold and purchased a wide range of products and databases, was once thought to be immune from justice but now lies in ruins thanks to efforts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Approximately 70 individuals in the U.S. and other countries are alleged to have participated in Darkode activities and efforts are currently underway to bring charges to those involved. A report published on Ohio.com indicates federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Louisiana and Wisconsin have already charged as many as 12 people. Additional targets include individuals in Slovenia, Sweden and Binghamton, New York.

The news story states that authorities in other countries have also arrested 28 other targets allegedly involved with Darkode. One of the arrestees, a 20-year-old from Ohio’s neighbor, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is charged with designing a malware program that allows users to gain remote control of infected Android mobile phones. Investigators say the program sold for $300 to Darkode members and up to $65,000 to non-members.

Globally, law enforcement officials have targeted individuals from the following countries for investigation or arrest: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Columbia, Costa Rica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany, Denmark, Croatia, Israel, Cyprus, Macedonia, Sweden, Latvia, Serbia, Romania, Nigeria and Finland.

The takeaway to this news report is that no one even marginally connected to computer hacking or fraudulent activity is safe from criminal charges. This is so even for those who did not fully understand that they may have been violating the law. As public concern over fraud and hacking grows, it is more important than ever to make sure you stay on the right side of the law. If you have already been arrested, you should seek the services of a criminal defense attorney as early as possible.

Source: Ohio.com, “Feds say they have shut down Darkode malware marketplace,” Joe Mandak, July 15, 2015