Major Stolen Card Marketplace Shuts Down After Making Millions

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Operators of stolen card data marketplace UniCC say they will ‘retire’ due to age and health, as several other major hacker forums also shut down

One of the largest online marketplaces for stolen credit card data has announced it is shutting down, as its operators “retire” from the industry after making an estimated $358m (£260m).

The anonymous operators of UniCC posted in Russian and English on several online hacking forums, saying “our team retires”, and citing age and health as reasons.

“We are not young and our health do not allow to work like this any longer,” they wrote.

The move makes UniCC one of a growing list of criminal websites to voluntarily shut down in recent months.

security, hacking, crime, hackerStolen card data

Like other hacking marketplaces and forums, the site operated on the Dark Web, which uses internet infrastructure but operates over darknet overlays that require specific software, configuration or authorisation to access, providing increased anonymity.

UniCC has been active since 2013, selling payment card data stolen from online retailers, banks and payment companies.

Researchers at Elliptic estimated the gang had taken in some $358m in that time, through the Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether and Dash cryptocurrencies.

Tens of thousands of new cards were listed on the marketplace each day, they said.

The operators gave users 10 days to wrap up their business and clear their accounts before the platform shuts down.

Voluntary shutdown

In February of last year, another large “carding” forum, Joker’s Stash, shut down after the seizure of some of its domains and the apparent hospitalisation of its operator due to Covid-19.

In October White House Market, the largest darknet market of its kind, also said it would shut down, followed by Cannazon in November and Torrez over Christmas.

Such voluntary retirements are a relatively new phenomenon, with most darknet marketplaces historically disappearing and taking customers’ funds with them, or being shut down by police.

Alex Hudson, the National Crime Agency’s head of darknet intelligence, told the BBC authorities would seek to hold online criminals responsible, whether they are in “retirement” or not.

“We do need to hold them accountable for it, and they need to understand that they will still be held accountable,” Hudson said.