Update: Alphabay & Hansa market is siezed by FBI
Exit scams are nothing new on the Dark Web, and they have happened a lot of times in the past.
What the heck are exit scams?
An exit scam is a confidence trick where an established (usually illegal) business, e.g. a seller of drugs, stops shipping orders while continuing to receive payment for new orders. Exit scams can be a tempting alternative to a non-fraudulent shutdown for illegal operations, if the operation was going to shut down anyway for other reasons. If an illegal entity lives by e.g. selling drugs, it is not usually an option for the cheated buyers to call the police. The examples mentioned in news articles are online sellers, where the buyer does not know the identity or physical location of the scammer, and therefore have little recourse.
This post is about a recent possible exit scam pulled by AlphaBay, which is currently the largest Dark Web marketplace.
In 2015, the Evolution marketplace was the biggest Dark Web network (after Silk Road) and they pulled a similar exit scam. The administrators back then disappeared with over $12 million worth of Bitcoin.
What Happened To AlphaBay Darknet?
So because AlphaBay is part of the Dark Web, users can’t access it with a normal browser. You need a special browser like Tor to access the Dark Web. Sites like these are usually used for selling drugs, illegal arms, counterfeit notes, and many other illegal things.
But on 5th July 2017, users were unable to access the AlphaBay site.
— basilpuglisi (@CoinSutra)
One reason for this speculation is a big withdrawal of USD 3.8 million (1,479.039 BTC) worth of Bitcoin on the blockchain. You can see the withdrawal on the blockchain here.
Is it regular downtime to fix the AlphaBay withdrawal bug?
From the past one month, members were facing a Bitcoin withdrawal bug. Some speculate that this downtime is for the maintenance and fixing of such bugs. However, usually, when such routine maintenance happens, there is an announcement. Right now, there has been no official statement from admins or even from moderators.
The thing with this illegal site is that they can’t be reported to legal authorities as no one wants to reveal their identity for engaging in illegal activities. If this indeed turns out to be an exit scam, this is not the first time such kind of scam has been pulled on the Dark Web.
It feels sad to know that many people would be losing their money, but again, not much can be done.
What if AlphaBay downtime is not an exit scam?
Let’s assume the AlphaBay downtime is not an exit scam, and it’s just routine maintenance. They might come back after 2-3 days.
But this should be taken as a big lesson for all innocent buyers who are now realizing that they have the power to purchase anything with their cryptocurrency.
Since cryptocurrencies are not governed by any single party or government, we should all be more responsible with our money. If you have any cryptocurrency with you, it should be in your possession. It should leave your possession only when you are buying something for the exact same amount.
Get a hardware wallet like Ledger Nano S or Trezor to hold your Bitcoin, Dash, Ethereum, and other supported coins. If you plan to keep your coins stored for a few years, it’s best to create a paper wallet or use only a hardware wallet. Your mobile phone or laptop can be hacked easily, so be careful. Better safe than sorry!
Anyways, back to the topic:
Alphabay Alternatives: What’s the future of the Dark Web?
One reason users love the Dark Web is because of the anonymity. But the problem with the Dark Net is that these sites are not completely decentralized. The admins can pull the plug any time and can run away with the money and no one knows who they are.
I believe OpenBazaar 2.0 could be the answer to this problem, as the new version offers complete anonymity and is also decentralized.
Well, we will keep you posted about what happens to AlphaBay. Our post on how to access the Dark Net is long overdue. For now, you might want to keep an eye on the price of Monero as AlphaBay is where most of the Monero has been used.
Here are some of the newest alternatives to Alphabay:
- Wallstreet market (New & not so trustworthy yet)
Stay tuned to basilpuglisi for all the latest crypto news and updates!