The cybercriminal forum DarkMarket.ws, frequented by identity thieves looking to share tips and purchase stolen data, was actually an undercover FBI sting, according to a report on Wired's Threat Level blog.
The site - reportedly under control by the FBI for the past two years - was voluntarily shut down earlier this month by its site moderator, who used the handle “Master Splyntr.” In reality, Splyntr was FBI senior cybercrime agent, J. Keith Mularski, working out of the FBI's National Cyber Forensics Training Alliance in Pittsburgh, according to Wired.
An FBI spokesperson told USMagazineUS.com on Tuesday that the agency is looking into Wired's story but was not yet ready to comment. When contacted by SCMagazineUS.com, Mularski declined to comment.
Wired reported that the FBI used the site as a way to create profiles of DarkMarket users. The agency tracked users' IP addresses and their activity on the site, along with transaction records from the E-Gold electronic currency service.
German radio station Südwestrundfunk was cited by Wired as revealing the FBI sting after it obtained memos and emails from 2006 and 2007 between the FBI and German national police. One of the documents was a memo saying that the FBI penetrated the forum and another was an email from Mularski saying that he was Splyntr. Wired claimed it had seen these documents.