- Empire Market, though to be the biggest online drugs darknet marketplace, seems to have left the scene, taking $30 million in users’ BTC with it
- The site had allegedly been paying off a hacker to stop attacking it, but the deal fell through, leading to the owners taking it offline
- Empire Market copycat will likely emerge to try and hoodwink former users
Exit scams are thought to be the preserve of unscrupulous ICOs, but the practice seems to have spread to darknet markets. While some darknet markets have been shut down by the authorities, such as Silk Road in 2013, others can take themselves offline, for one reason or another. One such endeavor, Empire Market, thought to be the world’s most popular illegal drug marketplace, has seemingly exit scammed with $30 million in Bitcoin from around one million users.
Empire Market and the ‘EndGame’ Lie
Empire Market launched in April 2018 and soon became a popular underground drugs marketplace, hitting $1 million in weekly sales volume by 2019. Its popularity grew to the point where it was doing around $6.5 million in weekly volume this year, storing more and more BTC on customers’ behalf.
The amount of Bitcoin stored by Empire Marketplace was at some $30 million when it was hit last week with a series of cyberattacks – hackers flooded the market with millions of fake page requests, leading to login issues for customers and vendors alike.
These DDoS attacks came after the implementation of EndGame, a purported solution to a previous series of such attacks. However, according to Vice magazine it has since been theorized that no such solution was put in place, and the reason for the reduction of attacks was in fact due to the company paying an extortionist to stop attacking the site.
Copycat Sites Likely to Follow
Following a breakdown of this deal, Empire Market owners have apparently shut down the site and fled with the Bitcoin before the hacker they were paying off DDoS it to death. Alongside those who lost Bitcoin through Empire Market’s apparent exit scam will come others who deposit BTC to the copycat sites that will inevitably open up with the simple aim of duping unsuspecting traders into sending their BTC over.
There will be little sympathy for those who lost Bitcoin through Empire Market in the wider community however, many of whom still see the illicit use of Bitcoin as the chief barrier to wider adoption and legitimacy, regardless of the fact that cash is still criminals’ favored payment medium worldwide.