It’s been happening for a while now. All the signs were here:
First, Agora shut down their market, allegedly to try and fix certain loopholes they’ve found in the Tor network.
After that, AlphaBay Market announced that it has become the marketplace with the largest community counting more than 200,000 AlphaBay users; only Abraxas was bigger and Nucleus was trying to rival them, yet not even remotely close to their numbers.
After this, Abraxas market went missing, as well as the Middle Earth market. The reason for their sudden disappearance is not yet been confirmed. At first it was assumed it could have been a DDoS attack but now it looks positive that they were exit scams carried out by the admins to steal all of the members bitcoins.
With Abraxas and Middle Earth markets missing in action, and Agora out of the picture too, it seems reasonable to believe the claims of AlphaBay that they have indeed taken over and have become the top Darknet Market.
Still, some new (and interesting, if not symptomatic) developments have been unfolding on the Darknet these days. It’s been announced that AlphaBay is offering bond waivers to a select group of “qualified” vendors that built their business on Abraxas and Middle Earth markets. How about that?!
On November 7th, AlphaBay support posted a statement on Reddit assuring vendors and users that AlphaBay Market is very much alive and here to stay.
According to the official invitation, AlphaBay is working to convince qualified, big-name vendors (some say vendors with 200+ sales; others on the contrary say vendors with 1000+ sales) to get over Abraxas and Middle Earth markets and the money trapped in escrows, and transfer their business to AlphaBay. The Market also offered free accounts to vendors willing to give them a chance.
What’s more, they are aware of concerns the users have for leaving their money in Escrows. That’s why they offered additional protection from exit scam – the true 2-on- 3 multisig protection and even FE option to large-scale vendors. They’ve given the detailed instructions on how to apply for waivers and the procedure is quite simple. However, all applications are individually evaluated.
The idea of AlphaBay to waive vendor bonds in a time when other markets are having troubles for whatever reasons was considered indistinct. It sounds very much like a tactic to hook vendors from other darknet markets to them and lure the big-time sellers by advertising and waiving the bond.
Some unsatisfied users are starting to believe that this market is just a short-term strategist and so-called “carders” who are looking to step out of the game before the heat and run off with people’s escrow holdings. They expect an exit scam to happen sometime in the future. I find this hard to believe actually as this market is not targeting the USA therefore minimizing the focus of USA law enforcement and the fact that they are not based in the USA either will give this market a much longer life expectancy that others.
A number of users are reluctant to give their trust to a market that is so heavily advertising. For, indeed AlphaBay is well-known for their PR campaign, unlike any other market on the Darknet. Users’ main fear is that this marketing campaign makes them an obvious and easy target for LE, which is also a huge risk for the users as well.
Another group of users believe that these “carders” are behind the DDoS on Abraxas, if in fact there was an attack at all.
Whichever the case, the majority of users is still quite happy to do business via the AlphaBay Market and more and more each day are willing to give this market a chance. Especially since they hardly have any rivals left.