An international police operation, coordinated by the FBI, Europol and the Dutch police, led to Genesis Market being taken offline on April 4, 2023. This cybercriminal forum, specialized in the sale and purchase of bots, had 1.5 million registered users.
Dubbed “Cookie Monster,” the operation led to the seizure of all the forum’s domain names. “These seizures were made possible through the international coordination of law enforcement and the private sector,” the FBI explains. The operation was supported by police in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
“Simultaneous actions were also taken worldwide against users of this platform, resulting in 119 arrests, 208 searches of property and 97 arrest measures,” Europol says. The site’s administrators, however, were not arrested.
The digital bots available on Genesis Market used stolen data sets (IP addresses, session cookies, OS and plug-in information…) to impersonate an Internet user. They offered access to many digital platforms, as well as to banks and payment systems. Some of the forum sellers had indeed managed to break the anti-fraud technologies of several hundred financial organizations.
Genesis Market operated on a subscription system and had developed tools to facilitate the use of bots, including a dedicated browser. The forum offered a wide range of software, from the most basic (starting price: $0.70) to the most complex (maximum price: $450).
“Removing Genesis Market was a priority for law enforcement, given the platform’s ability to facilitate all types of cybercrime,” states Europol.
The investigators found data sets of 2 million Internet users on the forum. The Dutch police have set up a portal to check whether an e-mail address is linked to data on Genesis Market.