17 arrests in NL as Operation Cookiemonster takes down hacker site

April 5, 2023  -Seventeen people have been arrested in the Netherlands has part of a global investigation into a hacker market place named Genesis Market which was offering over two million identities for sale. In the Netherlands itself, tens of thousands of people were in ‘acute danger’ of being targeted, Dutch police said. The operation, described as an ‘unprecedented law enforcement operation’ by European police agency Europol, was led by the FBI and Dutch national force. Operation Cookiemonster led to hundreds of raids in 17 different countries and 119 arrests. Those arrested in the Netherlands were involved in plundering bank accounts, stealing crypto currencies, hijacking people’s online identities and blackmailing companies and private individuals. -ADVERTENTIE- Genesis Market was selling what its owners referred to as ‘bots’ that had infected victims’ devices through malware or account takeovers attacks. Criminals who bought a ‘bot’ would get access to all the data it harvested such as fingerprints, cookies, saved logins and autofill form data. This information was collected in real time – the buyers would be notified of any change of passwords and the like, Europol said. The price per bot ranged from as little as 70 cents several hundred dollars, depending on the amount and nature of the stolen data. The most expensive would contain financial information which would allow access to online banking accounts. Easy money The FBI began the investigation into Genesis Market in 2019. Some 40,000 users worldwide were able to access the site and the 17 people arrested in the Netherlands include ‘youngsters after easy money… as well as real hackers,’ said Dutch police cyber crime chief Ruben van Well. One victim cited by Van Well was a 71-year-old man from Almere who made three different police reports over a period of months. ‘All kinds of stuff was ordered in his name in online shops,’ said Van Well. ‘Almost €70,000 disappeared from his investment account. Bank accounts were opened in his name at several banks. The victim told us that he felt like he was swimming alone in a large pool and had no idea how to get out.’ People who suspect their information may have been stolen can register their email address with the Dutch police and will be contacted if the address is linked to the theft.


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