Empire Market: A Replica of the Famous AlphaBay Launched

Stylized text darknet. 3D illustration.
Stylized text darknet. 3D illustration.
A darknet site modeled to mimic AlphaBay is live. While Empire is basically a replica of the fallen market, admins say the code is original.

Last summer saw the ultimate downfall of two of the most influential darknet markets of their time—AlphaBay Market and Hansa Market.

By the time they were seized by law enforcement authorities, these darknet markets were among the biggest in the world.

They generated income running into the upper thousands of Bitcoins on a daily basis for both sellers and site admins.

The sellers would cash in from profits acquired after the sale of goods or services, while the admins would rake in commission revenue generated from the sites.

Due to the influence of AlphaBay and Hansa on the dark web scene, the operation that led to their ultimate seizure was regarded as the biggest ever dark web takedown.

Several arrests were made, including the arrest of AlphaBay Market admin Alexander Cazes, who later died by suicide in a Thai jail.

The takedown was a major blow to thousands of darknet users who ended up counting losses after their cryptocurrency funds were seized by the law enforcement agencies heading the operation.

Not only that, most of the customers who had purchased goods/services on the seized markets never received their order.

A month after the shutdown of AlphaBay and Hansa in mid-2017, a group of developers began working on what is now known as Empire Market—a replica of the long-gone AlphaBay Market. The new darknet market is built in memory of Alexander Cazes.

The screenshot below is a message from the admin of Empire Market detailing how the site is modeled.

The admin goes by the name Syd, and it seems he is in charge of announcements since most posts in the forums were posted by him.

Acknowledging the fact that AlphaBay was a beacon of hope to most darknet market users during its time, Syd implies that Empire’s developers have put a lot of effort into bringing new life to AlphaBay’s design and interface.

Features & Capabilities of Empire Market

Most of the features in the new darknet market are a replica of AlphaBay’s features, including user interface, the use of Two Factor Authentication (2FA) and Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), deposits and withdrawals, plus a grading system.

However, Empire Market seeks to offer more security and anonymity by adding new features to the model currently in existence.

The addition of new features, referred to as phase 2, seeks to integrate altcoins such as Bitcoin Cash, Monero, Ethereum and ZCash as payment options. Other features will include affiliate programs, multisig and CC Autoshops.

Despite all the similarities, the admins are quick to note that every code is written from scratch to be completely original.

One thing to note is that before the seizure of AlphaBay, the market had adopted Monero, Ethereum, ZCash and, of course, Bitcoin. For Empire, the only cryptocurrencies currently in use are Bitcoin and Litecoin.

AlphaBay never integrated Litecoin, but perhaps it would have done so by now if it were operational.

Remembering AlphaBay’s Innovative Qualities

Darknet word cloud concept. Vector illustration
Last summer saw the ultimate downfall of two of the most influential darknet markets of their time—AlphaBay Market and Hansa Market.

To generalize, one can say that AlphaBay was a trendsetter.Having four cryptocurrencies added as payment options before the site’s seizure showed its zeal and determination in maintaining its position as the world’s top darknet market.

Months have passed since AlphaBay Market was closed, but still, no darknet market has been able to integrate the four altcoins that AlphaBay had.

If it were still in existence, the only conclusion is that AlphaBay would have added several new features to make it stand out among other markets due to the level of innovation the developers shared.

Establishing a new darknet market that operates similarly as a previous top market can be considered as a marketing strategy in the eyes of many.

Of course, the more darknet users hear about Empire, the more curious they become and in turn, they may end up opening accounts on the market to see if it has any potential.

A Look into the Future

From previous case studies, it is evident that the trends and patterns of darknet markets are highly unpredictable. But the most notable factors that cause markets to exit from the scene are seizure by law enforcement, hacks and exit scams.

Depending on the reason, a market’s closure may be temporary or long term. But what is evident is that exit scams and law enforcement seizures are permanent.

Crackdowns by law enforcement agencies lead to arrests and prosecution, as was the case with AlphaBay last year.

Hacks, on the other hand, can lead to either temporary or permanent closure. If users lose funds as a result of the cyber attack, then the admins may not be able to recover and will opt to shut down all operations.

But in the past, some markets have been brought back despite suffering major hacks.

In one of the most recent situations, a DDoS hack was orchestrated targeting the most popular darknet markets. As a result, some sites were offline for weeks.

As of now, the fate of Empire Market lies with a high level of uncertainty because what is for sure is that law enforcement agencies are already on the dark web radar, continuing to monitor other marketplaces to see if they can bring them down.

You can find Empire here: http://empiremktxgjovhm.onion. This address is sourced from Empire’s official subreddit page. (Note: Never enter a darknet site or market unless the URL is from a trusted source. Double-check to make sure you have entered the URL correctly before visiting the site.)

AlphaBay Reportedly Seized by Authorities

shutdown button on keyboard. Alphabay written in red on the image
shutdown button on keyboard. Alphabay written in red on the image
Authorities take Alphabay during three raids in three countries

The dark web’s most popular black market spontaneously went offline a couple of weeks ago.

Since then, public opinion on online communication platforms and forums has contained speculation and outrage about AlphaBay administrators’ intentions for the outage.

The site went offline without notice on July 4, which sparked AlphaBay’s collective of vendors and users to demand justice for those whose funds had been stored in escrow accounts pending sales.

But recently-surfaced breaking news satisfies many unanswered questions left by users closely following the story.

NOTE: AlphaBay was shut down by the feds and DeSnake (Alphabay Admin and creator) was captured and hung himself in jail. It is sad to see the biggest and best market ever to close (Hansa and Silk Road 3.1 also have closed at the same time) but not to worry. The next biggest market is Dream Market, just go to Go to https://dreammarketdrugs.com and you are back on a good dark net market. Remember, be as safe and private as you can on the darkweb, now more than ever, use PGP, VPN and a different email.

The Wall Street Journal received information from a confirmed source that the market’s disappearance happened after law enforcement conducted raids in three countries a day after AlphaBay went offline.

In the raids, officials seized equipment owned by alleged AlphaBay administrators in the United States, Canada and Thailand.

Background on AlphaBay

The AlphaBay market was first launched in 2014, subsequently skyrocketing in popularity for being reliable and reputable, adhering to high standards of operation.

Respect for AlphaBay rose after other darknet markets were subject to elaborate exit scams in which administrators stole vendors’ Bitcoin funds. Many thefts rounded out to millions of dollars in take away money.

For example, the darknet market called “Evolution” was subject to an exit scam in 2015. Administrators ended up taking $12 million in Bitcoins from vendors.

jail bars with man's hands hanging out of the bars
Alexandre Cazes, alleged creator of Alphabay, was arrested in Thailand July 5, 2017

In May, administrators of the popular market “Outlaw” claimed the site had been hacked while making off with massive amounts of Bitcoin stolen from users.

These exit scams led many darknet market users to AlphaBay, a site that upheld a positive reputation for being safe and trusted.

It was also a thriving market, reporting an average of $600,000-$800,000 a day in sales with about 400,000 users and vendors.

Speculation After AlphaBay Went Down

After AlphaBay was reported offline on July 4, users and onlookers were collectively outraged—a reaction that was near-immediate.

A blockchain-recorded Bitcoin transaction indicated someone had transferred millions of dollars within the system. Reddit users considered this as evidence that AlphaBay administrators had in fact stolen vendors’ funds, stored in escrow accounts.

Complaints were quickly posted on the AlphaBay subreddit. An exit scam was alleged within just a few hours after the site went offline.

Some commenters claimed to work on AlphaBay’s staff. A supposed staff member posted a notice that the site’s developers and administrators were trying to get AlphaBay up soon and in the mean time, users should be advised to avoid clicking on links posted by users claiming the site is back online.

This statement was in response to the growing amount of phishing attacks targeting the AlphaBay community when the site first went offline.

Law Enforcement Raids

A few days ago, Canadian media publications reported that law enforcement was responsible for AlphaBay’s disappearance. Royal Canadian Mounted Police raided two resident addresses and one business in the country.

No arrests were made, but equipment owned by the suspects was indeed taken by the authorities.

Meanwhile in Thailand, 26-year-old Canadian national Alexander Cazes was taken into custody at his residence in Bangkok. This was after the U.S. issued a warrant for his arrest pending drug trafficking charges.

It is certain that Cazes is in fact the founder of AlphaBay, publically known as DeSnake. Soon after his arrest, officials found Cazes dead in his jail cell after hanging himself with a towel.

Several websites run by Cazes appear to be associated with AlphaBay, and they seem to have gone offline at the same time AlphaBay was seized.

After AlphaBay disappeared, other emerging darknet markets have responded to the situation in some way or another.

For instance, Hansa stopped all new registrations from occurring because of technical problems.

But other emerging dark web marketplaces such as Dream Market and Silk Road 3.1 continue to welcome new members.

Some Users Panic as AlphaBay Market Temporarily Went Offline

Text in shiny steel pearls. Site down for website maintenance with broken cable and grey background.
Users and vendors of the popular darknet site, AlphaBay Market, speculate the cause of the site’s outage, pointing to a possible exit scam.

Popular dark web site, AlphaBay Market, has been down for almost a week now, leaving users speculating what happened to cause the outage.

The fear is that AlphaBay may be executing an exit plan with the cryptocurrency funds the site’s users have earned.

Dark web marketplaces like AlphaBay Market allow anonymous trading and communication through the Tor encrypted software, through which IP addresses are anonymized from both ends.

AlphaBay Market is one of the largest marketplaces on the dark web. And since it went offline last Tuesday, July 4, administrators haven’t left any official statement to announce what happened.

This has created a lot of speculation, including fears that the anonymous marketplace may be executing an exit scam. Users have become jittery that the free anonymous market may have kept the Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies in individual accounts with their sudden disappearance.

AlphaBay Market partnered with Oasis in 2016, resulting in the surge of Monero value when it began accepting the cryptocurrency. The site’s sudden disappearance has made users suspicious, especially with a large withdrawal of Bitcoin suspected to be sourced from one of the AlphaBay accounts.

Bitcoins totaling 1,479.03904709 (worth about $3.8 million) were withdrawn to various addresses, causing users to become alarmed. Many believe this is indicative of an exit scam and that AlphaBay admins plan to keep all the money for themselves.

Even though the market has only been down for a week, users’ patience seems to be running out—especially when it comes to their funds. The site may be down for maintenance, but what worries people is the silence, coupled with the large withdrawal that is yet to be confirmed was done by AlphaBay admins.

It has only been one month since the anonymous marketplace announced plans to integrate Zcash payments. The main reasons for this planned change are the high fees and uncertainty around the upcoming Bitcoin hard fork.

It could be true that this outage resulted from unexpected security issues when integrating Zcash, hence AlphaBay’s unwillingness to talk about the blackout for reasons of security.

On Reddit, one user assumed to be an AlphaBay staff member posted that the downtime may bring about an increase in phishing sites but gave no reason for the outage. This is the closest we are to an official statement from AlphaBay Market.

Internet crime concept. Hacker working on a code on dark digital background with digital interface around.
In the past, AlphaBay Market has warned users when it schedules maintenance.

This has affected frequent users the most. No one can be at peace if the most popular marketplace goes dark for days without any explanation. Some are still hopeful that the site is getting a facelift and will relaunch soon with better features and usability.

AlphaBay Market has seen tremendous growth over the years, rising to become the most popular darknet marketplace to trade. It has more than 200,000 users drawn from around the world and has defied the odds despite competition from the likes of Abraxas, Dream and Hansa.

Even those who’ve never heard of darknet markets have come to know what AlphaBay is.

Today, it is unclear why the outage is occurring. In the past, AlphaBay Market has warned users when it schedules maintenance.

It will be a sad day for users who have ongoing sales waiting clearance of payment from the escrow held by AlphaBay on behalf of the two parties. Once the buyer confirms the receipt of goods or services in the right conditions, the seller then receives the payment from AlphaBay Market.

It’s possible AlphaBay Market may have attracted too much attention from law enforcement to make them vanish before it’s too late. Government agents may have infiltrated the system and then attempted to bring it down, triggering the exit. If it doesn’t resume activity soon, buyers will be forced to shift to Dream or Hansa.

Exit scams among such darknet marketplaces are not uncommon. Evolution succeeded in taking $12 million worth of users’ Bitcoins in 2015. In May, Outlaw pulled an exit scam leaving its users stranded after first publishing a message that it had been hacked, followed by a total shutdown.

Darknet marketplaces are known for allowing users to buy and sell illicit goods and services including guns, stole goods, counterfeit goods and drugs.

So amidst the panic, chaos and confusion, some are threatening reprisals if AlphaBay makes a run with their cryptocurrency funds. Some are even willing to donate money to help find and punish the owners who may have run away with Bitcoins, even if they haven’t lost any money themselves.

In spite of all the speculations and fears, we won’t know for sure what is going on until AlphaBay Market comes back online or goes away for good.

AlphaBay to Accept Zcash Payment Soon

AlphaBay is set to integrate with yet another type of cryptocurrency come July 1, 2017.

The leading darknet marketplace announced the move to accept Zcash payments starting next month in a Reddit post, citing the growing nature of Bitcoin as a major reason why the darknet market has seen it fit to implement other cryptocurrencies.

==> Click here for the AlphaBay Guide and AlphaBay URL <==

AlphaBay’s recent integration with Ethereum earlier this year was a move that met strong opposition by significant portions of the community who felt that Ethereum was a poor choice of cryptocurrency to use in an environment dominated by its privacy-centric counterparts.

While Bitcoin has already established itself as the most reliable cryptocurrency on AlphaBay and on other darknet markets, Zcash brings to the table a significantly more privacy-oriented approach to making transactions on various dark web platforms.

Zcash has Grown Exponentially this Year

Zcash Cryptocurrency secured chain. Digital money
AlphaBay announced that it will accept Zcash payments from as early as July 1, as the darknet market looks to expand its payment options.

The adoption of the cryptocurrency by AlphaBay is a move that has been anticipated by many after the cryptocurrency’s soaring performances since the beginning of this year.

Much of the intrigue surrounding this new partnership is focused on the immensely privacy-centric nature of Zcash, which promises to drastically improve the anonymity of transactions carried out by AlphaBay users.

The cryptocurrency’s admins have justifiably compared the form of payment to HTTPS.

Among its key features is the ability to shield transaction details including the sender, the recipient and the value transacted on the blockchain completely.

Unlike the appraised Monero, which received high acceptance ratings from the AlphaBay community, the move to implement Zcash cannot be interpreted as another cash grab.

Many believed that the AlphaBay admin only implemented Monero as a way of increasing its usage and thereby boosting the value of the cryptocurrency, which many suspect they had bought significant amounts of.

Admittedly, Monero went on to be wildly successful on darknet markets such as AlphaBay, with some experts calling it “the drug-dealer’s currency of choice.”

The secure cryptocurrency experienced a massive 2,760% growth spurt, making it by far the best performing currency in 2016.

Support Readied on AlphaBay in Record Time

AlphaBay has reportedly prepared Zcash support in a remarkably swift manner.

In their announcement, they stated that support for the newly integrated cryptocurrency would be available as soon as the following day.

As is custom, making Zcash payments an option is a voluntary decision that the AlphaBay marketplace delegates entirely to its vendors.

Their unusually quick efforts this time around was notably absent during previous implementations, which took roughly a month each to be fully integrated into AlphaBay after they were announced.

This shows that the AlphaBay admin has had this particular move in the works long before the official announcement was made.

All Systems Go on AlphaBay

All over the internet, the reaction towards the AlphaBay announcement is largely positive, especially since Zcash bears some significant differences to its counterparts.

The cryptocurrency’s ability to provide maximum transactional privacy while simultaneously being capable of enough transparency to trace back to cyber criminals—such as those behind the WannaCry ransomware attacks—puts it on a slightly higher pedestal than the leading cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which has been linked with several crime sprees over the past few years.

Cryptocurrency provides maximum transactional privacyHowever, questions have been posed on several occasions regarding the decentralization of AlphaBay’s latest offering in the cryptocurrency department.

Among the major appeals of digital currencies is undoubtedly their decentralized nature.

Unlike its completely decentralized rivals, Zcash is the proprietary digital currency of the Zerocoin Electric Coin Company, according to its website.

The cryptocurrency is clearly owned by a single company, making it less immune to the forces that impact fiat currencies, such as inflation.

As essential as the cryptocurrency may become to users of platforms such as AlphaBay in the near future, its centralized nature might eventually become its downfall—especially when it begins to fold to the pressures that affect normal currencies.

Dark Web Vendor “Owlcity” Sentenced with Deportation Likely on Release

Chrissano Leslie, an AlphaBay Market vendor known as “Owlcity,” was recently sentenced to prison time, and it’s probable that he will be deported after being released. The defense had framed him for being a street-level drug dealer on the dark web, and not as a big trafficker.

==> Click here for the AlphaBay Guide and AlphaBay URL <==

Charges of Drug Dealing

A closeup of addicts exchanging joints for banknotes
Chrissano Leslie was sentenced for drug dealings on the AlphaBay Market and will likely be extradited after discharge.

Leslie was charged for dealing drugs and conspiracy related to money laundering, along with identity thefts. Law enforcement officials arrested him in his house, and he has pleaded guilty for four federal offences.

He admitted to using different aliases namely Owlcity and others, while trading on dark web marketplaces such as AlphaBay Market. He also admitted to selling different drugs like heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and flakka.

Small-Time Drug Dealer

He was sentenced for selling drugs like heroin and fentanyl on AlphaBay Market, while the prosecution framed him with the image of a person standing on a high-tech corner of the street in a sophisticated market of criminals, terming it as a kind of unidentified eBay over the dark web.

Gathering Sufficient Evidence

The investigators have been able to prove that the defendant had used his computer in his house to check out the location of a narcotics package.

According to police records, many of Leslie’s customers were actually undercover DEA agents who purchased the drugs from the defendant.

The agents then followed Leslie to the post office in Hollywood, where he posted their orders along with drug packages for other customers.

The undercover law enforcement agents then had sufficient evidence to issue a warrant in Leslie’s name and arrest him.

They found transaction logs in his house showing Leslie had been involved in around 1,000 transactions. However, most of these transactions were for around three pounds and 1,100 pills over many years.

Judge’s Comments

According to Daniel T.K.Hurley, the senior district judge in the U.S., there has been an increase in the abuse of heroin and fentanyl in recent times. Many people are dying due to overdoses.

Hence, the word must be sent out to such dealers that if they are caught in dealing drugs, there will be heavy consequences.

Dealing on AlphaBay Market

Leslie is 26 years of age and is from Miramar in Florida. He had an excellent feedback record and a 98 percent rating for his drug dealing business on the dark web.

According to investigators, he was finally caught selling drugs on the AlphaBay Market, due to his over-dedication to customers.

This was because he was delivering the drugs to the customers he had acquired on AlphaBay Market, using the priority mail of the post office.

Everything was running smoothly until one customer complained he had not received the drugs package. On hearing this, Leslie logged into his tracking services of the post office in order to find out the location of the drugs parcel.

DEA officials noticed this and then tracked his device and located him.

Recommended Sentence

According to Robert Trachman, who is Leslie’s lawyer, it is too harsh to sentence him for the recommended period of seven to eight and a half years for crimes involving narcotics and he has suggested for four years in jail.

Leslie’s Statement

Decorative Scales of Justice on the table. Focus on the scales
Leslie was charged for dealing drugs and conspiracy related to money laundering, along with identity thefts. Law enforcement officials arrested him in his house, and he has pleaded guilty for four federal offences.

Leslie also had many friends and family members to support him through the trial. His mother, along with his wife, claimed that he was a very hardworking and clever man, but that he had made a terrible mistake.

Leslie also stated to the judge that he was ashamed of his acts and was sorry to have used his talents and energy for committing criminal offenses on the dark web.

Leslie is a citizen of Jamaica and lives in South Florida. He stated that he had lost his green card and work permit after previously being arrested for the possession of marijuana.

He had then decided to sell drugs on the AlphaBay Market, as it was the only alternative to starving.

AlphaBay Now Accepting Ethereum Transactions

While those trading Bitcoin rejoiced over its price peaks, the darknet market AlphaBay recently announced it would begin accepting Ether, the cryptocurrency more popularly known as Ethereum or ETH.

Insiders likely knew this would happen, and since the currency has gained value over the past few weeks, this adoption by AlphaBay could not have come at a better time.

==> Click here for the AlphaBay Guide and AlphaBay URL <== 

Ether wallpaper dark
The addition of Ethereum on AlphaBay has generated much debate about darknet markets adopting their own strategies to suit convenience.

Following through with its announcement earlier this year, AlphaBay began accepting ETH for making deposits and withdrawals on May 1.

Mixed Reactions from the Community

The move by AlphaBay has evoked a range of reactions from those who frequently trade in these cryptocurrencies, as well as from some observers who follow the trends in the trade.

One point of concern for many users is the site’s reputation. AlphaBay is known as an online marketplace for selling and buying illicit drugs.

The second set of apprehensions come from people who say ETH itself is a currency traded without permissions, and the operators of the currency don’t offer privacy for transactions.

To be more specific, there have been instances in which companies prefer not to use the currency for trading, so they turn it down.

Though the currency made a recovery and returned to full operations, AlphaBay could have avoided taking this currency on board. Some see the decision as reflecting a lack of values and principles on the part of AlphaBay.

There are others who generally support the move, and their take is based on the premise that Bitcoin is also going through some turbulent times.

Ethereum offers an alternative currency for completing transactions on the site. For the record though, there is a third alternative in Moreno, available on AlphaBay.

The trouble with BTC right now is that transactions are taking too long to complete.

Additionally, the fee charged per transaction has risen, much to the disliking of users within this darknet market. The general refrain from this segment of people is that the use of the currency on AlphaBay cannot be stopped by the ETH’s community, even if they object to it.

Ether Could Gain through This Move by AlphaBay

Ethereum cripto currency chrystal art icon for apps and websites. Ethereum vector logo for print of web.
While those trading Bitcoin rejoiced over its price peaks, the darknet market AlphaBay recently announced it would begin accepting Ether, the cryptocurrency more popularly known as Ethereum or ETH.

AlphaBay’s decision can be examined from a different perspective, as well. ETH is the second largest traded cryptocurrency after Bitcoin or BTC.

The traction and acceptability it has received from mainstream and frontline companies like Microsoft, BP and JP Morgan has only strengthened its claims.

This is mainly because the currency has managed to offer smart contacting solutions that work for those carrying out transactions.

It is understood that financial powerhouses are already busy putting in place dedicated applications on their websites to handle ETH-based transactions.

The formation of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance is also cited as a justification for the recognition AlphaBay has accorded to Ether.

Data indicates that some 90,000 transactions were done in one day recently, transferring almost a billion US Dollars in value terms.

Hacking, Theft and Forking That Occurred with ETH

AlphaBay users who don’t favor transactions using Ether have some concerns. Some refer to incidents where hackers could break in and take away someone’s currency.

But Ethereum started using the blockchain system to break transaction rules and records, ultimately restoring the money to its original owner.

This is termed “hard fork” within the cryptocurrency dealer community. Some agree with this solution but other Ethereum users reject it, electing to use the old rules instead.

Still, the possibility for hacking and theft is a threat to secure transactions using ETH on AlphaBay.

This drawback is often overlooked when considering benefits that the currency can bring on to AlphaBay users.

But it does appear that the dust will settle down soon within the AlphaBay user community and those trading in Ether will find its price increasing in the coming months.

AlphaBay Rising to be Become the Amazon of Dark Web

Silk Road 1 was considered a trailblazer.

During its heyday, the site was undoubtedly the largest of the darknet markets ever created.

Ross Ulbricht started the venture as a legitimate business with no intentions to entangle himself with the illicit trade that was hinged on the exchange of drugs, weapons, and illicit paraphernalia.

Several mishaps and a major FBI crackdown later, Silk Road 1 was relegated to memory as one of the most successful darknet markets ever to exist.

==> Click here for the AlphaBay Guide and AlphaBay URL <==

Darknet market in the form of binary code, 3D illustration
AlphaBay, the most popular dark web marketplace in existence, has been justifiably compared to e-commerce giant Amazon.

Compared to the modern day AlphaBay, Silk Road 1 would have seemed insignificant.

AlphaBay has risen to become the largest and most reliable English-speaking darknet marketplace in the entire dark web.

Experts have compared the soaring success of the high-earning market to e-commerce giant Amazon.

In a niche that is famous for incessant FBI crackdowns, numerous exit scams, and unexplainable disappearances, AlphaBay has displayed resilience that has been termed “uncharacteristic,” but is undoubtedly the reason why the AlphaBayis still going strong.

AlphaBay Gunning for the 1,000-Day Mark

Come December this year, AlphaBay will mark a milestone no darknet market has had the honor of experiencing—1,000 days in operation—making it the only English-speaking market to have ever lasted that long.

Although most experts are generally at a loss over what has kept the lights on at the organization for so long, some insightful opinions have helped to shed some light on the well-oiled machine that is AlphaBay and the reasons why it will only live to grow bigger.

Terbium’s Emily Wilson believes that AlphaBay’s unprecedentedly long run can be attributed to its unquestionable reputation.

The dark web is not famed for its honest breed of characters and a series of exit scams performed by vendors, and even entire darknet markets, attest to the fact that no one can be trusted there.

AlphaBay’s levels of honesty and transparency mirror those of any legitimate business operating in an environment regulated by laws and regulations set by authoritative institutions.

In addition to being trustworthy, Wilson attributes much of its popularity to its user-friendly design.

AlphaBay Hidden Services are hosted in Russia

Hand of businessman in suit on dark digital background using wireless computer mouse
AlphaBay has risen to become the largest and most reliable English-speaking darknet marketplace in the entire dark web.

Experts are in unanimous agreement over the following fact: AlphaBay has remained safe from takedowns for so long because it hosts its hidden services in Russia.

Considered the global core of all activities pertaining to cybercrime, Russia is one of the few places where the FBI has no jurisdiction.

Coupled with the fact that AlphaBay is run by a team of highly organized professionals, it is easy to see how the platform has managed to thrive for so long.

Nicolas Christin from the Carnegie Mellon computer security firm admits that the marketplace’s growth isn’t as significant as it was in 2013.

He explains, however, that AlphaBay is still as lucrative as ever.

A curious detail about AlphaBay, one that is often unmentioned in the media, is the fact that the administrators have instated rules that are meant to protect Russia as a whole.

For instance, it is prohibited to sell stolen data from Russian organizations, government institutions, or private citizens.

What’s more, a prerequisite for malware vendors is that all their products should have a built-in feature that prevents harm from coming to a computer with a Russian IP address.

Malware vendors who target citizens from the Russian Commonwealth as a whole are banned from using the platform entirely.

Law Enforcement’s New Approach to Cybercrime May Facilitate Further Growth

The change of authorities’ approach will also positively impact the growth of AlphaBay, says Christin.

Unlike in the past where federal agencies were bent on killing internet crime one takedown at a time, a more relaxed approach has been deployed.

Focusing on major vendors instead of struggling to shut down massive darknet marketplaces has proved to be more rewarding.

As such, it is unlikely that AlphaBay’s demise—should it ever occur—will be a result of a well-orchestrated takedown.

A Reddit thread from the site administrator of AlphaBay revealed just how well-organized AlphaBay’s strategy is.

Far from solely relying on service fees to make a living, AlphaBay actively invests in various ventures using the Bitcoin stored in the platform’s virtual wallets much like banks and other financing institutions.

It is clear that AlphaBay is more than just a run-of-the-mill marketplace with the sole aim of providing a platform for the crime.

It is, in many ways, a pioneer and one of the only places on the dark web where the lines between legitimate and highly illegal are often indiscernible when it comes to trade.

AlphaBay Market Announced They Will Accept Ethereum

The announcement by the AlphaBay Market that they will be integrating Ethereum payments into their systems as of May 1st has elicited an array of mixed reactions from its users.

The highly popular darknet market has reached similar altitudes as Silk Road I did during its heyday.

Its adoption of a fairly controversial digital currency puts a cap on some of the problems the AlphaBay Market has recently been experiencing, particularly when it comes to payment methods.

==> Click here for the AlphaBay Guide and AlphaBay URL <==

The AlphaBay Market has recently announced that it will be adopting Ethereum payments by May 1st, 2017.

On Ethereum’s part, this will be considered a monumental victory for a digital currency that has recently been struggling for a solid foothold in a niche dominated by the long-time cryptocurrency favorite Bitcoin and an upcoming rival currency Monero.

A lot of the reactions point to a general displeasure at the adoption of what many see as a dysfunctional digital currency on a platform as authoritative as the AlphaBay Market.

Concerns over whether the highly censored Ethereum chain is worthy of a darknet market that is fundamentally run by illicit drug and weapons trading are rife.

Many users see this move by the AlphaBay Market as the beginning of a horde of problems rather than the inception of a more efficient payment system.

Bitcoin is Still the Leader, But Not for Long

Ethereum is unlikely to usurp Bitcoin from its position as the leading digital currency anytime soon.

Undoubtedly, Ethereum has quite a distance to cover to reach the heights of Bitcoin.

However, for the alternative currency to even dream of competing on an equal footing with Bitcoin, moves such as this are necessary.

The recent hike in popularity and the price of the altcoin have a lot to do with the AlphaBay Market’s decision to start accepting it as a payment method on their marketplace.

Ethereum had previously been suffering from an acute lack of real-life application, but it seems like the AlphaBay Market is determined to make that a thing of the past.

Pundits, however, are not expecting it to get the same reception as privacy-centric blockchains such as Bitcoin and Monero.

And it is for that same reason that Ethereum is unlikely to usurp Bitcoin from its position as the leading digital currency anytime soon.

That said, the future looks promising for the alternative currency.

A Rocky Start Predicted for the AlphaBay Market’s New Payment System

It is fairly clear that a lot of AlphaBay Market vendors are not happy with the integration of Ethereum payments.

With a track record of at best unsavory hard forks—one particular fork was designed to return stolen money to their owners; not the best approach for a currency that is appealing to a largely criminal user base—not even the proposed Metropolis hard fork is enough to get people excited.

Nevertheless, the AlphaBay Market has made a sound decision to finally introduce Ethereum payments.

Going by its recent hike in value and popularity, the altcoin currency has finally gotten out of the rut it had previously been in and is looking healthier than ever.

Currently, the AlphaBay Market team is in the process of setting up the payment functionality, which has a projected launch date of May 1, 2017.

Vendors on the platform will be expected to manually enable the payments by going to the account settings.

The attitude surrounding Ethereum is unlikely to change soon, especially with its surprising lack of privacy in an industry dominated by privacy-centric competitors.

Nevertheless, the AlphaBay Market users may be more accepting of the currency once the Metropolis hard fork is finally implemented.

The hard fork currently has no official launch date as of yet, though.

AlphaBay Market will set a Precedent for other Darknet Markets

AlphaBay is currently being watched by other markets that are waiting to see how their move plays out in the long run.

If successful, the popular drug-fueled darknet market will be considered a trendsetter and will consolidate their position as the world’s most popular darknet market.

If not, it will be clear that the power to make or break any large darknet market lies squarely in the hands of the consumer.

A lot of their success is clearly dependent on Ethereum’s proposed privacy-enhanced hard fork.

AlphaBay Staff Paid Alleged Extortionist Demand

Dark web marketplaces such as AlphaBay have gained unprecedented popularity in the past few years.

For a long time, darknet markets have been associated with all sort of internet-related crime including drug trafficking, arms dealing, fraud, illegal pornography, and also extortion as well.

For these and other reasons, darknet markets have increasingly become the focus of law enforcement agencies all over the world.

==> Click here for the AlphaBay Guide and AlphaBay URL <==

However, law enforcement agencies are not the only parties that dark web markets have to worry about.

Other dark web users and extortionists are quickly becoming a major threat to darknet market platforms.

AlphaBay staff allegedly paid an extortionist who discovered the identities of a former administrator and other employees.

Cyber criminals are adept at targeting the platforms in efforts to milk as much money as possible from the administrators and users.

A recent report shed some light on one of the latest extortion schemes on AlphaBay, the largest darknet market at the moment.

According to the report, the AlphaBay staff seem to have made several payments to an alleged extortionist.

Apparently, the cyber-criminal in question managed to discover the identity of a former AlphaBay administrator as well as that of current staff members.

This notorious and common attack method is known as doxxing.

It is the practice of researching information particularly identifiable or private information about an organization or individual.

Doxxing is not always done for sinister reasons such as coercion, extortion, online shaming, or harassment.

In some cases, it is conducted to aid law enforcement, business analysis, and social justice.

In the case of cyber criminals such as the AlphaBay extortionist, they often threaten to broadcast the information if a fee is not paid.

An online news and media outlet learned through an official Reddit account tagged “alphabaysupport” that AlphaBay staff had not conclusively determined the authenticity of the dox.

However, they reiterated that the bits of information sent by the extortionist seemed to confirm the dox.

This indicates that the payments made served a precautionary purpose in efforts to protect the identities of the affected employees.

The extortionist boasted of having identified AlphaBay’s creator, Alpha02, last year along with other website employees.

Screenshots provided by the extortionists appeared to confirm that AlphaBay had indeed paid them not to broadcast the information.

The screenshots showed an unconfirmed customer support account conversation on the official AlphaBay site.

The news outlet revealed that they had contact with the said extortionists, where they availed a Reddit account username and password.

The Reddit account was said to contain conversations detailing the exchange between the extortionist and AlphaBay throughout February of this year.

According to one of the threads in the conversations, the extortionists claimed to have traced and uncovered the real-life identity and locations of two AlphaBay employees going by the usernames BigMuscles and Raspi.

The AlphaBay staff then inquired about the price for keeping this information private.

According to the conversation, the extortionist may have received approximately $45,000 in bitcoin (35 Bitcoin) from AlphaBay staff in February.

However, this is mere speculation since the payment could not be verified.

The extortionist allegedly used a PGP encrypted message to send the Bitcoin transfer address.

extortionist was requested to disclose how they acquired the informations

Cybersecurity experts and law enforcement agencies often insist that victims should not pay the demanded ransom or extortion fees demanded by cyber criminals.

According to the aforementioned thread, after the extortionist was allegedly paid and requested to disclose how they acquired the information, they turned around on the deal and demanded approximatey 147 bitcoin ($190,000+) that was left in the payment wallet.

AlphaBay staff confirmed that they had indeed paid the initial ransom.

However, they would not pay the additional amount demanded by the extortionist.

This is in accordance to a policy implemented by AlphaBay, which strongly prohibit paying extortions and ransom twice.

AlphaBay staff have now resigned to ignoring the alleged extortionist hoping the incidence will blow over.

The question that many people will be asking is why AlphaBay staff readily admitted to paying an extortionist the first time around.

Phishers Insert Fake AlphaBay URL on Wikipedia

Cyber-criminals have profited from a phishing scheme by posting a false AlphaBay URL on Wikipedia, redirecting users to a fake AlphaBay platform.

Wikipedia has been the victim of multiple cyber-attacks in recent times, particularly in the last five years.

A large percentage of the schemes aimed at the site have been phishing schemes.

In one of the latest phishing schemes, the cyber criminals posted a false AlphaBay URL to bait internet users into a fake dark web platform.

AlphaBay is the largest dark web platform today and one of the most successful, a predominant reason why this scheme was so profitable.

==> Click here for the AlphaBay Guide and AlphaBay URL <==

The operation is quite simple. Since Wikipedia can be edited by virtually anyone, the criminals keep inserting the fake AlphaBay URL into Wikipedia’s AlphaBay page.

A victim who clicks on the AlphaBay URL is promptly redirected to a fake version of the site.

This tricks them into entering his/her username and password.

Once this happens, the internet criminals have access to the victim’s credentials.

In many cases, the victim is redirected to the authentic AlphaBay market.

As such, they may never be aware that they just gave out their credentials to the fraudsters.

The criminals employ tools such as Scallion to hash out the fake AlphaBay URL making it look similar to the authentic one.

Revealed in a report, the fake AlphaBay URL was pwoah7p6o5e67qul.onion, while the genuine one is pwoah7foa6au2pul.onion.

The immediate visual similarity indicates that an ordinary internet user would not be able to spot the difference at a glance.

This is often the case for many onion URLs since they are randomized.

It is important to note that the fake URL was deleted immediately and the page was taken down permanently.

Unfortunately, for the affected victim in such cases, the internet criminals proceed to steal their accounts and the funds withheld therein.

The funds are typically in the form of digital cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.

The internet criminals can stand to earn tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of Bitcoin with very little effort.

A large percentage of the schemes aimed at the site have been phishing schemes.

Dark web vendors are also liable to attacks through such phishing schemes.

Data breaches involving the vendor accounts are potentially more profitable as they often contain more funds as well as clients’ information.

Client information can be used for secondary attacks, making such incidences more notorious.

Some cyber criminals opt to hold the confidential data ransom in exchange for large sums of money.

Unfortunately, paying the demanded ransom does not always guarantee that the darknet vendors and clients will receive access to their accounts again.

Malicious cybercriminals sometimes put the data for sale even after the victims have paid the requested amounts.

For this reason, internet security experts strongly advise affected parties to avoid paying ransom for data and instead opt for mitigation procedures.

This puts dark web vendors with a reputation to uphold in a tight spot.

They almost always end up paying to avoid losing clients.

Doing so ends up making the schemes highly profitable and attracts even more hackers.

This is an incentive that has been influential in the increasing incidences of cybercrime in the last half-decade.

This latest AlphaBay URL phishing scheme on Wikipedia will definitely not be the last.

Wikipedia has a history with these kinds of phishing campaigns in various forms from 2010 through to 2016.

In some of the cases, the technique was used to spread malware.

In the wake of the AlphaBay URL scheme, Wikipedia’s editor Chris Monteiro was quick to reassure internet users of benefits of the site if it is used properly.

He noted that if the users were more aware of best cybersecurity practices and are vigilant, such hacking campaigns would not be as successful as they are currently.

AlphaBay’s operators also touched on this point, but seemed to be less sympathetic to the victims.

They pointed out the issue of user fallibility.

AlphaBay operators have always advised dark web users to cross-check URLs coming from purported official sources, as they may not always be legitimate.

Crosschecking could have easily saved many dark web users from the AlphaBay URL scheme.