operation cookie monster ontario cybercrime

Ontario cops bust crime ring in hilariously-titled Operation Cookie Monster

A four-year FBI-led cybercrime investigation titled "Operation Cookie Monster" has resulted in the takedown of an illicit online criminal marketplace with the help of Ontario police. 

Twenty-eight Canadian police services participated in the investigation, including Peel, Waterloo, York, London, and Woodstock police. 

The unprecedented law enforcement operation involved 17 countries in total, which were able to takedown Genesis Market, an online platform known to sell stolen account credentials to hackers around the world. 

Cybercriminals were able to purchase "bots" from the marketplace that infected victims' devices through malware or account takeover attacks to gain access, defeat two-factor authentication, and other security features to commit fraud, hack into corporations, and steal intellectual property. 

Through the malware, Genesis Market compiled stolen data, including email addresses, usernames, and passwords, and packaged this data for sale.

Genesis Market is estimated to have had over 1.5 million bot listings connected to financial sectors, critical infrastructures, and various governments totalling over two million identities at the time of its takedown. 

In February 2023, the FBI began to share information with the National Cybercrime Coordination Centre (NC3) as well as other Ontario police services. 

Investigators were able to identify several individuals in their respective jurisdictions, who were believed to have purchased illicitly obtained information through the platform. 

On Tuesday, officers conducted three search warrants at various locations in Ontario, and seized several electronic devices that will undergo detailed examinations. 

According to an RCMP media release, the majority of Canadian Genesis Market users resided in Quebec. The total number of victims in Ontario is still unknown. 

Anyone who suspects they have been the victim of cybercrime or fraud should report it to their local police and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre's online reporting system or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.

Lead photo by

Mika Baumeister

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