With the take down of the largest market on the Dark Web, the ripple effect has users and admins scrambling in its void.
On July 5 the largest Dark Web market, Alphabay, disappeared offline. Initially, there were fears that its administrators had vanished using an “Exit Scam,” taking the site’s digital value with them, which is not unheard of among Dark Web sites.
However, the Wall Street Journal reported that the site’s disappearance was in fact due to a coordinated attack between US, Canadian, and Thai authorities.
It reports that Alphabay key administrator, 26-year-old Canadian Alexandre Cazes, was arrested in Thailand on July 5. He was later found hanging in his Bangkok prison cell, which Thai police is calling a suicide.
Dark Web Ripple Effect
The site’s take down has caused a ripple effect among the sites users. It is estimated that Alphabay had listings of over 300,000 types of narcotics, stolen credit cards, and other contraband items, which brought in an estimated value of $600,000 – $800,000 in revenue per day.
Now, other big plays on the Dark Web like Hansa and Dream Market are feeling the effects of Alphabay’s absence. Hansa has “closed its doors” to new customers due to the huge spike in activity. The Sub Reddit AlphaBayMarket has recently lit up with activity regarding these recent events with contributors discussing what has happened and where to go next.
“Due to the influx of Alphabay refugees we are dealing with technical issues,” read a message on the site. “We have set a stop on new registrations until further notice.”
“When you have a site like AlphaBay going down, it puts a lot of stress on the other players. It’s stress-testing their infrastructures,” said professor of computer science and public policy at Carnegie Mellon Nicolas Christin on Wired. “It’s been really chaotic.”
Accessibility has not been the only issue for buyers looking to spend their digital currency. There are concerns regarding the reliability of rival websites such as Dream Market, along with complaints regarding its poor interface. One Reddit users commented “I’ve used dream off and on for year or so now and tbh I still f***ing hate it,” adding “Using their website feels like I’m playing around on some 15 year olds MySpace page.”
However Alphabay is not the first site the Feds have taken down. In 2015 Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison after the previous leading site was removed.
According to the Bangkok Post, Cazes was a resident of Thailand for eight years and had a Thai wife. During the raid, Thai officials took four Lamborghini cars and three luxurious residencies with a total value of $11.7 million.