A significant international investigation known as “Operation Cookiemonster” has led to the arrest of a 32-year-old Dutch national living in Brazil.
The arrest, which occurred on July 18 in The Netherlands, was revealed late due to investigative interests following the suspect’s restriction of communication. He was presented before a judge on July 24, where his detention was extended for an additional two weeks.
The suspect ranked high on the Rotterdam Cybercrime team’s list of suspects under investigation related to the Genesis Market, an online marketplace taken offline by the FBI on April 4. Genesis Market was a hub for selling millions of user profiles with associated online fingerprints, enabling cybercriminals to impersonate someone’s online life. This impersonation could allow the criminals to order and pay for items online, and in some cases, even drain bank, cryptocurrency, or investment accounts.
Global Efforts and Impact
Hundreds of searches were conducted worldwide in early April, leading to 17 arrests and 23 searches in the Netherlands alone. The Dutch suspect is believed to have traded extensively on the Genesis Market. Ruben van Well, from the Cybercrime team, mentioned that the suspect had reportedly spent tens of thousands of euros on the market, making him one of the largest Dutch users, and possibly even in the top ten worldwide users.
Victims and Investigation
Several reports suggest victims had been robbed of tens of thousands of euros. “We suspect that the man has duped many people with his actions,” says Van Well. The arrest, hence, is seen as a significant stride in the ongoing investigation.
Van Well cautioned that more arrests could follow, noting that the users of the platform were warned after the site was taken down. In collaboration with the FBI, the team has obtained extensive information about the marketplace buyers. “On the internet, you always leave traces, even when using a VPN, and even when payments are made via cryptocurrency. The investigation is still in full swing, and more arrests are not ruled out,” van Well concluded.