Leading darknet market Empire Market has reportedly shut down its operations, exit scamming the site’s estimated 1.3 million users out of some bitcoin (BTC) 2,638, worth close to USD 30 million.
Reported by dark.fail, a journalist specialized in covering the darknet, the development comes with “no explanation from its admins and no announcement from law enforcement … [which makes it look] like a devastating exit scam,” according to the reporter.
The website went offline on August 23, triggering worries by numerous users that Empire Market could have been taken down by a massive DDoS attack that began several days earlier.
Empire Market remains under a large DDoS attack making it very slow to access. Monero functionality appears broken, Bitcoin is functioning according to multiple trusted sources. Always PGP verify URLs, many phishing links are circulating. https://t.co/dYtfPtSLw8
— dark.fail (@DarkDotFail) August 21, 2020
A number of users took to Twitter to express their disappointment over the alleged exit scam.
“No way they’re coming back imo, they’ve just walked away with millions. Probably just set up another market and do the same again – constant exit scamming,” offered one user.
“What a sad way for Empire to go [as] it was supposed to be the market that would stay,” added another one.
The operators of the #darknet #marketplace #EMPIREMARKET have transferred tens of millions of dollars in #Bitcoin to #offline wallets in the last few days. pic.twitter.com/ChXt6dE3Fi
— NEWSBLUES (@PHIL4ACES) August 23, 2020
While the reasons behind the market’s shutdown are yet unclear, the concern is that Empire Market could become another major darknet market to exit scam after eight similar websites went offline last year, according to the journalist.
Various Twitter users have suggested (here and here) that Se7en, the market’s head moderator, has either deleted his account or was outed by Empire Market’s admins, adding to the rumors that the website went underwater with all of the deposited cryptocurrency.
Set up in 2018, Empire Market was designed as an Alphabay-style darknet cryptomarket allowing its users to spend BTC, litecoin (LTC), and monero (XMR), among others. With an estimated business volume of some USD 6.5 million per week, the website has established itself as the largest darknet market for crypto.
“Empire faced relentless DDoS attacks, phishing clones, and obsessive doxx attempts by a banned vendor,” dark.fail wrote. “Launched ‘in the memory of Alexandre Cazes’ – the alleged AlphaBay admin who committed suicide – many believed that Empire was not operating out of greed, but to continue AlphaBay’s movement. What really caused this sudden disappearance with everyone’s money? We may never know.”
Others seem to have already taken to jokes to say their goodbye to the market:
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