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FBI seizes hacking forum BreachForums — again

The FBI along with a coalition of international law enforcement agencies seized the notorious cybercrime forum BreachForums on Wednesday.

For years, BreachForums has been a popular English-language forum for hackers and cybercriminals who wanted to advertise, sell and trade stolen data. Just recently, a threat actor advertised Dell customers’ personal information and data stolen from a Europol portal.

BreachForums has proven resilient. Last year, authorities seized a previous version of the site, three months after arresting its administrator, Conor Brian Fitzpatrick, aka pompompurin. After that, someone going by the online handle Baphomet took over and re-established the site, which had three different domains over the last year, according to the FBI.

When reached by TechCrunch for comment, FBI spokesperson Samantha Shero declined to comment. Department of Justice spokesperson Joshua Stueve also declined to comment.

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Unlike the previous site seizure, this time the feds also took control of the forum’s official Telegram channel, as well as the channel of one of the site’s administrators, Baphomet.

Both Telegram channels displayed the same message from the FBI, announcing it took control and that it was “reviewing the site's backend data.”

“If you have information to report about cyber criminal activity on BreachForums, please contact us,” the message concluded, with a link to a dedicated FBI website where victims and members of the forum can send the feds information about the former cybercrime forum.

“From June 2023 until May 2024, BreachForums (hosted at breachforums.st/.cx/.is/.vc and run by ShinyHunters) was operating as a clear-net marketplace for cybercriminals to buy, sell, and trade contraband, including stolen access devices, means of identification, hacking tools, breached databases, and other illegal services,” the FBI wrote on the website.

ShinyHunters, another BreachForums administrator, did not return a Telegram message requesting comment.

At this point, it’s unclear how the authorities took control of the Telegram channels. One likelihood is that the FBI arrested Baphomet and took control of his devices. Telegram spokesperson Remi Vaughn confirmed the company "has not cooperated with any law enforcement agencies" on the BreachForums takedown.

Telegram did not respond to a request for comment.

Fitzpatrick, the previous BreachForums administrator, pleaded guilty to federal charges last July.

UPDATE, May 15 at 4:49 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to add the FBI's 'no comment.'

UPDATE, May 16 at 9:14 a.m. ET: This story has been updated to include the comment from Telegram's spokesperson.