AlphaBay, the most popular marketplace on the darknet, has been offline since July 4. Without an official statement from the site’s administrators, many people are left to believe that the crash is part of an exit scam: the creators of the site have disappeared with all of the site’s assets.
As of July 11, AlphaBay continues to be offline.
AlphaBay has become infamous over the past year for selling all types of legal and illegal goods (mostly illegal goods). Drugs, weapons, and stolen financial information could freely be purchased from AlphaBay.
Optimistic users point to the fact that AlphaBay has previously gone through downtimes. However, this is the longest downtime by far, and the chances of AlphaBay coming back online grow slimmer with every day.
That’s why many people believe AlphaBay’s creators have pulled an exit scam – a term for when an illegal marketplace’s creators suddenly shut down and disappear with the funds of clients and customers (funds that were held in escrow).
The last major exit scam occurred in March 2015 when Evolution Marketplace – one of the internet’s largest underground markets – disappeared offline with approximately 40,000 BTC (worth $102 million today, but about $12 million at the time).
However, some believe AlphaBay will come back – and that the latest downtime is due to police seizing the organization’s servers.
Will AlphaBay Come Back?
We have very few clues about the future of AlphaBay, but the future doesn’t look good.
The main contact person for AlphaBay went by the name “Trappy” on Reddit. Trappy submitted a post on Reddit on July 5 where he claimed to be in contact with AlphaBay’s administrators. However, Trappy didn’t specify why the marketplace had gone down.
Trappy spent most of his post explaining the dangers that can occur when a marketplace is offline – like an increase in phishing activity and increased attempts to steal cryptocurrency from users.
Nevertheless, Trappy insisted that the marketplace would be back online shortly:
“I have been in touch with our devs and admins and they are working to restore AlphaBay as soon as possible. As I have said before, during downtimes, there are added risks that you should understand and be wary of.”
Trappy then went on to explain the increased risks of phishing activity in an effort to extract more bitcoins from those who had already lost money.
Following The Bitcoin Trail
Internet sleuths have been following the trail of AlphaBay’s bitcoins to determine the truth behind the marketplace’s disappearance.
One Reddit user responding the Trappy’s thread above claimed to have followed the trail of his bitcoin address on AlphaBay, which pointed to a BTC wallet that has received an unusually large amount of cryptocurrency over the past few days since the market was shut down.
Other dark web users also spotted a large bitcoin transaction ($3.8 million, or 1,479 BTC) that took place on July 5.
Based on all of this information, many users have assumed that AlphaBay pulled an exit scam. Of course, aside from timing and the fact that it’s a large bitcoin transaction, there’s no real evidence the transaction is related to AlphaBay in any way.
Downtime Could Be Connected to A Police Raid In Quebec
Police officers in Quebec, Canada recently raided two separate locations that were suspected of dealing illegal materials internationally across the dark web.
The police action involved the FBI and led to the seizure and search of computer equipment. Redditor XanaxBoss speculated that AlphaBay’s downtime was related to the police operation in Quebec.
XanaxBoss further speculated that the Quebec servers weren’t AlphaBay’s entire network. Instead, they were just mirrored servers, and AlphaBay’s bosses would attempt to secure the rest of the network to replace the seized servers over the coming days.
Obviously, until we get more information, this is all speculation.
AlphaBay was thought to be the largest illicit goods marketplace on the darknet. However, it’s certainly not the only one. The AlphaBayMarket subreddit, which tends to be one of the most popular sources of information about AlphaBay, has mostly switched over to the Hansa Market.
The advantage of the Hansa Market is that Hansa never actually holds onto users’ money. The money isn’t kept by Hansa, which makes an exit scam mostly pointless.
In fact, so many users from AlphaBay flooded to Hansa that the marketplace has had to temporarily close new registrations.
Stay tuned to see what happens with AlphaBay in the future.