A top darkweb site used to sell illegal goods has been offline for around three days now, with fears growing that administrators may have fled with an estimated $30 Mln in crypto assets.
In line with a recent official report by Darknetstats, Empire Market, the darkweb’s hottest marketplace by site traffic, was suddenly taken offline on 22nd Aug.
Speculation is mounting over the whereabouts of the website’s administrators, who some believe have made off with an estimated 2,638 Bitcoin [BTC] around $30.2 Mln, consistent with John Marsh, a Darknetstats representative.
However, Marsh said that figure isn’t certain as no large movements of funds are identified. There are although several speculation, but nothing “concrete” about what happened to the website, he added.
An Empire Market head moderator referred to as “Se7en” confirmed the website was down on the darkweb forum Dread late from Tuesday evening.
Se7en suggested the incident wasn’t an exit scam as that sometimes entails disabling withdrawals and accepting bitcoin for a period of weeks.
Marsh, however, contested this and said his publication believes it had been an “unplanned exit scam,” as bitcoin withdrawals were working up to the day the marketplace went offline.
The darkweb refers to certain sections online that are only accessible with specific software or via using unique communication protocols for access.
In line with an official tweet thread by anonymous darkweb journalist “dark.fail,” the darkweb has been in a “golden age of trust” but darkweb users should “expect a rough year of exit scams ahead.”
Dark.fail added that, while it is easy to possess a sound idealogy when creating a darkweb market, when thousands of bitcoin get entangled “greed can defeat all good intentions.”
One theory raised by Se7en is that Empire Market had been the platform of an ongoing direct denial of service [DDoS] attack and therefore the controllers had just decided to “call it quits.”
The website has suffered multiple such attacks since logging in earlier from 2018 & has been extorted for between $10k to $15k per week to keep the website live, consistent with Marsh.