Update: AlphaBay has definitely exit scammed and is gone for good. Please don’t get your hopes up about it coming back.
If you’re interested in darknet markets and have seen the news lately, you probably know that AlphaBay, which up until now has been one of the most successful markets, is down (and has been since July 4th).
Numerous media outlets have already covered this story, including the New York Times, The Verge, and Gizmodo. If you haven’t heard about this, here are a few links to catch you up:
While many of these stories are written by mainstream media outlets and are geared toward the layperson, it’s interesting to think about it from the point-of-view of someone who spends a lot of time on the dark web (or someone who’s bought and/or sold goods on the market, for that matter).
The subreddit /r/DarkNetMarkets, which is your guide to all things darknet market-related, has a bit more inside info, although even those involved with the market aren’t necessarily sure what happened.
Though he did not give proof, one of the vendors on this subreddit speculated that the market’s downtime might be due to a hardware seizure in Quebec of dark web site owners: Vente dans le «Dark Web»: la police procède à deux perquisitions (As you can see, the article is in French, but you can loosely translate.)
In English, the article says that “…the RCMP’s integrated technology crime group conducted two searches in connection with a global network of illicit drug sales in the Dark Web [sic].” At least that’s the Google translation – no, I don’t speak French.
This points to a couple of possibilities: either the FBI seized one of AlphaBay’s servers (and all the data that would be included, such as hashed passwords, vendor information, private messages, etc.); or that the admins of the site closed it down in anticipation of a raid. Even if it’s the former, I doubt they were able to confiscate everything.
Again, however, just like those in the conversation over on Reddit, I’m just hypothesizing, so don’t take what I’m saying here as gospel. I’m not a member of LE (I swear!), nor do I want to be. Even if the feds did seize evidence from AlphaBay, I hope that it will be up and running again.
If that’s not the case, then I suppose you’ll have to take your business elsewhere.
In the meantime, I’ll be keeping an eye on the developments.
Stay trippy, my friends!