Empire Market, the largest crypto darknet marketplace, has abruptly shut down. No communication was issued from the admins who seem to have siphoned away with user funds amounting to around $30 million in BTC. From the looks of it, this appears to be a pretty massive exit scam.
Empire Market Exit Scams With 2638 BTC Worth $30 Million
According to the latest update from an anonymous journalist, “DarkDotFail” who tracks darknet activities, Empire Market, the largest cryptocurrency accepting darknet marketplace, has allegedly exit scammed.
Empire, the largest darknet cryptomarket is gone. With no explanation from its admins and no announcement from law enforcement, this looks like a devastating exit scam.
The darknet was in a golden age of trust. Expect a rough year of exit scams ahead as trust is rediscovered.
— dark.fail (@DarkDotFail) August 25, 2020
As per details shared by a staff member, the owners made away with user Bitcoin funds worth $30 million. The darknet marketplace was launched in January 2018 (after AlphaBay went down) but exponentially grew to cater to 1.3 million users.
DarkDotFail adds that Empire was launched in the memory of AlphaBay admin Alexandre Cazes who killed himself, and was not operating out of greed, but instead walking in AlphaBay’s footsteps.
What Are The Events that Triggered The Exit Scam?
Empire Market went offline on August 20, buckling under the pressure from consecutive DDoS attacks. DarkDotFails feels that the attacks may have been a response to a post titled, “State of the Darkweb” shared by Empire’s lead Dread (a Reddit-like forum for darknet users and enthusiasts) moderator, Se7en.
Three days back, Se7en’s first official statement provided ‘cryptic a ray of hope’ to Empire users:
If the market is still down in a couple of days I’ll make a post about the whole situation then, it’s early days and maybe the admins will bring it back.
But as per another post, the head moderator made it clear why Empire shut shop. The darknet market place was operating by making weekly payment to DDoS attacker ‘/u/SchwererGustav’ who was keeping it down. Things went out of hand when another DDoS attacker took Empire down in exchange for ransom. As per Se7en,
This was probably when the admins decided to call it quits. I doubt they would want to pay multiple DDOSers and at the same time it wouldn’t work paying one DDOSer if another is holding the market down.
Expressing disappointment over this quitting move, Se7en apologized to users who had their funds locked up in escrow and advised them to use markets with Multisig functionality in the future.
The Darknet Show Is Still On
Empire’s fall has stalled darknet market activity. Quoting information received privately, DarkDotFails mentioned that six new darknet marketplaces have already gone live in a tweet a few hours back. DDF also added it could get a whole lot more ‘scammier now.’
Monopoly, White House, ToRReZ, and Yellow Brick are some of the options that destitute Empire users are moving to, the darknet journalist said.