FBI Charges Russian National With Running Online Hacker Marketplace

security and fraud cyber crime

A Russian national believed to be behind the Deer.io service, which lets hackers advertise and sell stolen information, has been arrested by the FBI, according to published reports Tuesday (March 10).

Kirill Victorovich Firsov, was arrested Saturday, March 7, at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, according to an arrest warrant. He was arrested on charges of aiding and abetting of trafficking and trafficking in stolen information. As of this week, Deer.io was still up and running.

According to U.S. officials, Firsov had been allegedly running the Deer.io platform since its start in October 2013.

The site is an e-commerce platform. It is allegedly used for cybercrime, according to the FBI. The platform lets users host their own stores for $12 a month. It was believed to have hosted more than 24,000 shops and to have been worth in excess of $17 million, according to claims by Firsov on the Deer.io platform.

The criminal complaint in Firsov’s arrest states that “thus far, law enforcement has found no legitimate business advertising its services and/or products” utilizing the Deer.io platform.

The FBI said it had reviewed more than 250 stores on Deer.io and had allegedly found users selling access to hacked accounts, hacked servers and personally identifiable information. On multiple occasions, FBI officials said they’d successfully purchased information on Deer.io and verified that it was legitimate hacked user data, not fake information.

Firsov, according to the FBI, was fully aware of the illegal nature of what his platform sold. He was active on cybercrime forums, advertising Deer.io regularly, the FBI said.

Deer.io was first exposed as a nest of cybercrime activity in a now removed Digital Shadows report from 2016, according to ZDNet, and those in-tune with cyber-security issues were not shocked to hear of Firsov’s arrest. The platform became known at that time when a famous hacker known as Tessa88 used a Deer.io shop to sell data from Myspace and LinkedIn users.

Firsov will have an arraignment in a New York court later this week.

Online hacking scandals are prevalent in today’s digital era, with major businesses reporting breaches of their security often.