AlphaBay Market, one of the largest Dark Web marketplaces is down. Is it an Exit-Scam?

Pierluigi Paganini July 06, 2017

The AlphaBay Market went down Tuesday night without any explanation, many users that have purchased products on the marketplace fear the Exit-Scam.

The news is shocking, the AlphaBay Market, one of the largest Dark Web black markets is down. We have analyzed many times the popular black market where it was possible to buy any kind of illegal goods, including drugs, malicious code and fake documents.

The AlphaBay Market went down Tuesday night without any explanation, many users that have purchased products in the last day are waiting for news. At the time there is no indication that the marketplace went down due to an operation conducted by law enforcement.

AlphaBay is considered the largest marketplace on the dark web, competing against the likes of Abraxas, Dream, and Hansa. Operators at the marketplace have continued improving the site by adding new features, including Monero.

On the Internet is circulating the news that administrators of the black market have pulled a classic exit scam to steal users’ Bitcoin.

Users at Reddit and Twitter are claiming that administrators have shut down the black market to withdraw a huge amount of Bitcoins from The AphaBay market accounts.

Analyzing the total withdrawal it is possible to verify that admins have transferred 1,479.03904709 Bitcoin (roughly $3.8 Million), which led to suspicion from some users that the site’s admins may have pulled an exit scam to steal user funds.

AlphaBay Market

Of course, at the time I was writing this is only a hypothesis, The AlphaBay Market already went down in the past, last year the black market was not accessible for about four days. Also, the blockchain transactions of about $3.8 Million are not enough for AlphaBay moderators to go offline.

There is also a portion of users that seem to be not worried, one of them published the following message on Reddit believe that roughly $4 Million is not enough for AlphaBay operators to disappear:

“Now I’ll admit I don’t know for sure what’s going on, and I am a bit nervous myself because if this is the end then I’ve lost a couple hundred dollars myself But think about it Last year alphabay went down for about 4 days.” states the message. “Everyone was saying for sure that this was it, but it wasnt. It took the alphabay moderators days to update people on what was going on too, they’re known to do this Also about that blockchain transaction.. 44 bitcoins rounds off to about 4 million US. Idk about you but that doesn’t sound like nearly enough money. “

A Reddit user associated with the AlphaBay Market who goes by moniker Big_Muscles has called users to calm down, he explained that the site is down due to server maintenance and it will be “back online soon.”

“Will be back online soon. Servers under update” said Big_Muscles.

I reached Rick Holland, VP Strategy at Digital Shadows for a comment.

“Dark web exit scams are nothing new and are quite common. The Evolution market famously ended with the loss of 40,000 bitcoins. These exit scams are one of the risks when conducting business in criminal marketplaces. The increasing value of BTC (>$2,500 as of today) makes exit scams appealing. These exit scams are often the first assumption when a marketplace goes offline, however there are alternatives including intrusions from other criminals, DDoS attacks from competitors, law enforcement interdictions, and even unannounced site maintenance.” state Holland.

“Multiple vendors of compromised data, payment card details, malware and other services would have to seek other online services. The Dream and Hansa markets are likely to benefit from any potential Alphabay demise. Digital Shadows is tracking this development and will provide updated analysis as it becomes available.”

The AphaBay marketplace made the headlines early last year when unknowns hacked the website and stole over 200,000 private unencrypted messages from several users.

In March 2015, the largest dark web market at the time, ‘Evolution,’ suddenly disappeared overnight in similar circumstances, operators stole millions of dollars worth of Bitcoins from its customers.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – AlphaBay, Dark Web)

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