Hacking forum RaidForums shut down and founder arrested in global police operation

RaidForums' UK-based founder Diogo Santos Coelho could be extradited to the US on charges of conspiracy, access device fraud, and aggravated identify theft.

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The RaidForums hacker forum, used by cybercriminals to primarily buy and sell stolen databases, has been shut down and its domains seized by US law enforcement as part of an operation coordinated by Europol that involved law enforcement agencies across numerous countries.

"The takedown of this online market for the resale of hacked or stolen data disrupts one of the major ways cybercriminals profit from the large-scale theft of sensitive personal and financial information," US Justice Department (DOJ) assistant attorney-general Kenneth Polite Jr said in a statement.

Prior to the forum's seizure, hundreds of databases of stolen data containing more than 10 billion unique records for individuals had been offered for sale, the DOJ said.

The global enforcement action, labelled as Operation Tourniquet, saw Europol, the UK National Crime Agency (NCA), US Justice Department, along with Portuguese, Swedish, and Romanian law enforcement officials work together to close the RaidForums hacker forum.

The various countries worked together on this operation for at least a year through Europol's Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce, where officials exchanged information with each other to enable investigators to define the different roles played by the individuals who ran the marketplace, Europol said.

US charges have also been laid against RaidForums' Portuguese founder and chief administrator, Diogo Santos Coelho, who was arrested in the UK in January. Coelho has been accused of running the forum, which entailed establishing a membership scheme where users of the site could pay for access to chatrooms that allowed the exchange of links, photographs, and data linked to cyber-crime.

Among the charges are conspiracy, access device fraud, and aggravated identify theft in connection with his role as the chief administrator of RaidForums.

Coelho is currently in UK custody and could be extradited to the US pending legal proceedings to face these charges.

Two of Coelho's accomplices have also been arrested. One of them, a 21-year-old UK citizen, was arrested by the NCA in March but has since been released under investigation. At the time of this unnamed individual's arrest, police officers seized £5,000 in cash, thousands in US dollars, and put a freeze on crypto assets worth more than half a million dollars.

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