The US Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that it had seized and shut down a series of sites belonging to the SSNDOB, a marketplace on both regular internet and darknet that specialized in the sales of personally identifying information, or PII. Approximately 24 million individuals within the US alone had their information listed on the market, which included names, dates of birth, credit card numbers and social security numbers.
The takedown of multiple mirrors belonging to SSNDOB was coordinated by the IRS and FBI in tandem with assistance from international law enforcement. Much of the data sold on the market was collected from breaches in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
In addition to data on US citizens, SSNDOB also sold data on individuals from a wide range of other countries which was both browsable and searchable by name. The market’s admins advertised their website on various “criminal forums” across the darknet, hosting their servers in several different countries in an attempt to avoid being shut down. Countries named by the Department of Justice that took part in the international operation include Cyprus and Latvia.
The site accepted both Bitcoin (BTC) and Litecoin (LTC) for purchases. It had been in operation under various URLs since 2015, processing at least $19 million in sales across 100,000 transactions since its inception.
According to a report by Chainalysis, transfers had a median payment amount of $80, with the largest payment over $100,000, and that the market had collected a total of just over $22 million in all. They found that while most payments came straight from centralized or peer-to-peer exchanges, at least 10% came from cryptocurrency ATMs, which is a much higher figure than is typically seen for most other online markets offering illicit services.
Chainalysis also found that a relationship seemed to exist between the market and Joker’s Stash – another darknet market specializing in PII and credit card information – due to the immense amount of funds SSNDOB transferred to it between 2018 and 2019. Joker’s Stash voluntarily closed its doors in January 2021 under increasing pressure from law enforcement and operational disruptions due to the outbreak of COVID-19.