Internet crime has become a large enterprise, especially in the last decade.
Currently, it has been projected to outpace all other forms of crime including the conventional drug trade.
It can be said that the dark web is a major facilitator of a significant percentage of internet crime.
Due to the uptick of illegal activities being conducted with the help of anonymity via the dark web, law enforcement agencies all over the world have turned their attention and revamped their efforts in dealing with cybercrime.
However, the ability of law enforcement agencies to effectively combat internet crime is affected by the widespread adoption of anonymous web usage and cryptocurrencies.
For this reason, they have to resort to unique ways to zero in on the internet criminals who mostly deal in illegal weaponry, drugs, and child exploitation.
One such organization is Zentrastelle zur Bekampfung der Internet-Kriminalitat (ZIT), or the Central Office for Combatting Cybercrime from Germany.
It is important to note that Germany is one of the European countries that have been dedicated to tackling cybercrime facilitated by the dark web domains.
The organization’s Attorney General, Andreas May, recently revealed in an interview that ZIT has been deploying operatives who go undercover onto the dark web.
May stated that the agents work for long periods to ensure that they infiltrate dark web platforms and that this enables them to build the cases before making the arrests.
The German organization mainly targets the three notorious aforementioned aspects of dark web trading: weapons, illegal drugs and child exploitation.
The main idea behind the operation is quite simple on the surface.
Operatives from ZIT start by posing as dark web clients in order to gain the trust of the dealers so that they can be able to compromise the dealers’ internet devices and subsequently pose as dealers themselves.
Through this impersonation, the investigators can then bait the previous dealers’ clients with a string of sales.
The clients are then arrested in the process of a routine delivery of merchandise.
It is important to note that many arrests involving these illegal operations have been made possible through this method.
The clients remain none the wiser about the switch in the dealers and the level of trust is maintained.
However, this high success rate undercuts how difficult it is in practice to complete the process.
Dark web baiting takes a lot of time and requires patience in order to break through the human vulnerability factor.
In addition, as reports of more dark web arrests dominate the media, the users tend to become more vigilant – which makes the process more difficult as user awareness increases.
There is also a legal conundrum in the cases of child exploitation.
While taking down transactions involving weapons and illegal drugs is relatively simple, the same cannot be said about child exploitation since it sometimes requires the investigators to break the law.
According to Andreas May, this occurs when the clients under investigation prompt the ZIT operatives to provide their own pornographic content.
The ZIT Attorney General reiterated that law enforcement agencies have been forced to adapt and modify their strategies in part due to the extensive proliferation of encryption and privacy tools.
However, the official was quick to emphasize that the dark web is not always a venue for illegal activities.
This indicates that ZIT is actually not against the existence of this hidden part of the internet but against the individuals who use it for criminal activities.
Moreover, with the necessary knowledge, one can access some of the products and services offered on the dark web in the public internet domain.
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