Image source: Forbes
UniCC, the largest dark web marketplace for stolen credit and debit cards, has announced its closure after earning $358 million in purchases using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether, and Dash since 2013.
Platforms like UniCC serve as an underground marketplace where credit card details stolen from online retailers, banks, and payment companies via malicious skimmers are traded for cryptocurrency. Criminals then use the cards to purchase high-value items or gift cards.
According to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, the anonymous operators of UniCC said in a farewell posted on dark web carding forums, “Don’t build any conspiracy theories about us leaving.” “It is a weighted decision; we are not young, and our health does not permit [us] to work in this manner any longer.” The UniCC team also gave its users 10 days to spend their balances, warning customers not to “follow any fakes tied to our comeback.”
The sunsetting comes exactly a year after the previous market leader, Joker’s Stash, announced its retirement in January 2021 after facilitating the sale of nearly $400 million in stolen cards. The demise of Joker’s Stash benefited UniCC, which quickly took the top spot with a 30 percent market share, according to the researchers.
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It’s also the latest in a long line of criminal marketplaces to close their doors voluntarily in the last year, including White House Market, Cannazon, and Torrez. This was followed by Monopoly Market, which went offline earlier this month in what appears to be an exit scam.
The illicit market for stolen credit card data has grown so lucrative that sales in Bitcoin alone have surpassed 1.4 billion, paving the way for new entrants and quickly filling the void left by defunct criminal entities in a manner that mirrors the ever-changing ransomware landscape.
The most notable of the lot has been All World Cards, which appeared on the scene in May 2021 and has since garnered attention by leaking data for one million credit cards stolen between 2018 and 2019 on a cybercrime forum for free, with the majority of cards from the State Bank of India, Banco Santander, and Sutton Bank.