After Empire’s Exit Scam, Darknet Market Patrons Scramble to Find Alternatives
Ever since the darknet market (DNM) Empire went under, DNM patrons have been scrambling to find reliable marketplaces on the deep web. On forums, individuals are discussing which markets are safe, the logistics of how to use different DNMs, and how much they lost from Empire Market’s exit scam aftermath.
Years ago, after the infamous DNMs Alphabay and Hansa went under, Dream was the top dog for a while but it eventually bit the dust. In the fall of 2019, deep web visitors leveraged DNMs like Tochka, Apollon, Cannazon, Cryptonia, Grey Market, and Empire Market. While Empire grew massively, six months ago Apollon shuddered during the second week of February 2020. Since Apollon’s exit scam, the king of darknet markets in 2020, except for Russia’s Hydra marketplace, was Empire Market as it was considered very trustworthy.
That was up until August 22, 2020, when Empire Market went offline and many individuals cast blame at a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. Two days ago, news.Bitcoin.com reported on how a majority of people now assume that Empire Market officially exit scammed. It has also been alleged that the Empire moderators got away with $30 million in digital assets like monero (XMR) and bitcoin (BTC).
Since the exit, DNM patrons have been discussing the subject regularly on the Reddit forum r/darknet and the underground forum Dread. There are a great number of posts discussing the marketplace Icarus, but many are complaining of trust issues. Others believe Icarus is untrustworthy, as one Reddit thread says “LOL Icarus right now… I’m so excited to lose more money.” Another person responded: “Glad I went to White House Market, seems more secure.”
On Friday afternoon, the operator of the website Dark.fail told his Twitter followers about a number of relevant DNMs that exist today. Out of the 11 DNMs Dark.fail mentioned, each one had a different trait or methods of operation. First, he mentioned Darkmarket, the first underground marketplace run by women.
“They accept Bitcoin and Monero, and run on the Eckmar marketplace script,” said Dark.fail. “I normally do not trust Eckmar markets, but this team is trusted by most major vendors. 1400 vendors, 220k users, according to their counts.”
The analyst said that Cannazon is a “cannabis-only market,” but has a friendly user guide. “White House Market is widely seen as the most secure,” the researcher continued. “PGP is required and they only use Monero. There is no hot wallet, withdrawals are processed once per day. It’s harder to use than Empire was, but many people who take OPSEC seriously vouch for it. 68k active buyers, 1700 vendors.”
After that Dark.fail mentioned Monopoly Market, and said that the operation is dedicated to “quality over quantity.” The analyst also mentioned in the tweet that his entire Twitter thread is “not an endorsement” for any markets and the “thread is for researchers only.”
The Twitter thread further said:
Torrez is a ‘community driven’ market which accepts zcash, monero, bitcoin, and litecoin. They support multisig transactions, allowing users to avoid centralized market escrow. Multisig remains a difficult UX hurdle for most DNM users. 286 vendors, 13k customers, 200 days online.
Dark.fail also discussed Asean Market, Canada HQ, Tor Market, and the Deepsea Market. The thread ends with a summary concerning the largest DNM that stems from Russia.
“Hydra is the darknet’s longest-running cryptomarket,” Dark.fail stressed. “Don’t speak Russian? You’re out of luck. Rather than smuggling product in the mail, Hydra vendors hide their wares in secret caches in Russian cities which buyers pick up. Hydra is working to launch an English version soon.”
Similarly to a number of posts on the Reddit forum r/darknet, Dark.fail also warned people about Icarus Market.
The Twitter account said that he believes Icarus Market “will scam.” “Naive darknet users are rushing into new, unproven sites that are shilling forums like mad,” he added on Friday.
What do you think about the end of Empire Market and the great search for trustworthy DNMs? Let us know in the comments section below.
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