Tampa agents help dismantle web-based criminal marketplace

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Federal agents in Tampa are providing some details on the bust of what they say was a large, online criminal marketplace called xDedik.

"The dark web is a segment of the web used by criminals to buy things like you would use in a crime like guns, drugs, people, and identities," says Mary Hammond, speical agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation office in Tampa.

Agents from the IRS and FBI in Tampa worked with the police in Belgium, Ukraine, and other countries to bring down the xDedik Marketplace.

Investigators say it operated for years, selling access to compromised computers worldwide and the identities of U.S. residents.

"We do some surveillance, research, and look for financial transactions," says IRS Special Agent Justin Allen.

He says users and operators on xDedik masked their identities and used so-called cryptocurrency, like bitcoin, rather than normal currency to make transactions harder to track.

"They're taking any steps they can to anonymize who they are and where they are," says Allen.

Agents say xDedik facilitated more than $68 million in fraud, with victims including state, local, and federal governments, hospitals, accounting and law firms, pension funds, and universities.

Investigators say domains used by xDedik have been seized and the investigation continues. No arrests have been announced.

For more information on cybersecurity and identity theft visit https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams and https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.