As of this writing, the dark web marketplace has been offline for three days. Rumors claim that authorities may have finally tracked down the base of its operations. Some say that the operators of the website may have embezzled its users and run away their money.
The website is called Empire Market, and it provides an eerily similar service to the infamous Silk Road website. The marketplace has been notoriously known for its wide offerings of illegal substances. On top of that, users are also known to trade other illicit products like stolen credit cards and identity theft.
Intel 471 Inc. chief executive officer Mark Arena told Bloomberg:
“On Empire market itself, it hasn’t been accessible for the last couple of days which naturally leads to speculations in the underground that this might be an exit scam.”
In an unregulated platform such as the dark web, exit scams are a widely popular form of strategy. Operators usually build a good reputation for many years. Once confidence is high, and the business is booming, they will suddenly disappear, bringing along with them their users’ money.
Just like most illicit marketplaces, Market Empire requires its vendors to make deposits. This is then stored in an escrow, which adds another layer of privacy and security to the platform. However, this also means that website operators have complete control of the money.
Just like the majority of dark web transactions, Market Empire uses cryptocurrency. This means that once they run off with the money, it will be extremely hard to track.
As of this writing, it is still unknown what caused the marketplace to go offline. Usually, when authorities seize a particular website, a notice will be plastered on the homepage. Concerning the Empire Market, the website is just offline.
This leaves many to suspect that the operators engage in a possible exit scam. However, this suspicion is still unfounded. Both users and vendors on the marketplace are getting anxious about whether they can recover their money.
On the other hand, dark web marketplaces like Empire Market are prime targets for denial-of-service attacks. These types of attacks usually render their target completely offline, just like what’s happening with Empire Market now. However, in events like this, a denial-of-service attack usually runs for a day utmost.
Featured image courtesy of Dmytro Tyshchenko/Shutterstock
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