The largest darknet marketplace selling illicit goods is believed to have pulled an exit scam on its users, as it has now been offline for four days without a word from its administrators. $30 million worth of bitcoin were under its control.
According to anonymous journalist dark.fail, the darknet’s largest market, Empire Market, has been offline since August 22, after dealing with a relentless distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. The market had been online since January 2018 and was created shortly after darknet giant AlphaBay was taken down by authorities.
It quickly grew to 1.3 million users, and gained a strong reputation as the journalist says eight major sites exit scammed last year after the Wall Street Market was seized by authorities. Empire, meanwhile, kept on running. It then faced the DDoS attack and was hit with “phishing clones, and obsessive doxx attempts” by a banned vendor.
To Empire Market’s head moderator, Se7en, the admins behind the market decided to exit scam because of these attacks. They were reportedly being blackmailed to pay the banned vendor between $10,000 and $15,000 in bitcoin per week, before a new attacker moved in.
In another Twitter thread, the journalist also speculates that while Empire Market was launched “in the memory of Alexandre Cazes,” the alleged AlphaBay admin who committed suicide under police custody, it’s easy to let greed “defeat all good intentions,” once “you’re holding thousands of bitcoin.”
A staff member, speaking under the condition of anonymity, estimated the administrators of the Empire Market shut down with 2,538 BTC, worth about $30 million, under their control. On social media, users are now discussing their losses, with some pointing out they had thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin deposited on the market.
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