Empire Market Administrators Disappeared with $30 Million After Paying DDoSers $15,000 a Week
Empire Market recently pulled one of the most dramatic exit scams in the dark web drug
history with Dread and Twitter being flooded with users and vendors' frustrations. The
report published by the chief moderator of Empire Market, Se7en created impressions
that the administrators did not mean to take down the market, but were left with no
choice. In a bid to estimate the total amount of money stolen, Mark Arena, the Chief
Executive Officer of Intel 471 INC. guessed a stolen amount of a single-digit million USD
at least. However, a fresh report published by the
claims the owners made away
with about $30 million in escrows.
A close source revealed that about 1 million users and thousands of vendors were
heavily affected having been locked out of their accounts. A drug vendor based in the UK
according to reports complained that he had not been able to access his thirty grand
since August 22. Another vendor also said to have lost his living existence. He claimed
the Empire Market was his main source of income as he was so committed due to the
high traffic. He lost $5915 to the exit scam.
The dark web marketplaces have become primary targets to attackers since the
unprecedented boom of the dark web economy. According to a criminologist at the
Manchester Metropolitan University, Rob Ralphs, the UK drug market alone estimates an
all-time high value of £10 billion.
More Gist on the Empire Market Drama
In May 2020, the Empire Market was said to had installed EndGame, a new open-source
DDoS defense shield. A number of other dark web websites installed it as well to
improve on security. Security analysts claimed most attacks were neutralized and there
was a positive improvement in uptime and market growth. Following the disappearance
of the market, Se7en revealed that the market was being held down on ransom by a
hacker known as /u/SchwererGustav. The hacker held down the market for a long
time and even took down all the added EndGame links.
The Empire Market was heavenly targeted throughout 2019, but the administrators
frequently rotated the URLs on trusted sites and published alternatives. Another side of
the Empire Market disappearance was the advantage taken by phishers to dupe users in
their desperations to access their accounts. Phishers published fake URLs and cloned
sites in a bid to lure desperate users and vendors who had no knowledge about the
latest happenings in the market to login and deposit funds in Bitcoin within their control.
It was estimated that such sites could possibly make £89,000 in every hour the official
market was down.
An anonymous dark web analyst known as
does not see the big deal in the
whole drama of Empire Market's exit scam. According to him, there are alternatives,
meaning users will just switch to either Darkmarket or Whitehouse market as neither of
these is controlled by law enforcement. He claimed that the collapse of the Empire
Market was expected, and these alternatives prepared for the situation as they are
capable of accommodating the influx of users from the defunct market.
Some reports are claim that six new dark web markets have been launched in the last
five days. This may be an attempt to get the attention of the refugee users searching for
new places to resume their trade. Most of these newly establishments may probably
have a short-term goal that may end up scamming the users as well. Monopoly market is
another alternative where the wondering Empire Market users can pitch their tents.
Yellow Brick is also present, however, it has a trust issue as it has been said to have
scammed before according to report.
Empire Market had about 55,000 listings and processed around $6.5 million each every
week. The market was popular for its sales of illegal drugs, ftware and malware,
counterfeits, and credit cards, and debit card numbers. The site allowed deposits in
Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Monero.
The chances left for the Empire Market administrators to redeem their image by coming
back online are slim, though it is a possibility. However, their moderator has called it an
exit scam that may never return. Se7en has apologized for the exit without notice,
however, a section of the users believe he was part of the whole plan as his post was
nothing but a plan to execute damage control. He updated on Dread to rubbish the
circulations concerning the exit scam plan of the market claiming it was a DDoS attack
of which they needed time to fix. His latest update put blame on the DDoS attackers and
even defended the administrators by saying they could not keep up with the demand of
hackers. In another part of his post, he expressed his disappointment with the decision
of the administrators to take down the site.
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