Extortion & DDoS Caused Empire Market Disappearance: The dark web illegal marketplace, Empire Market has been down for days now and recently, it has made a mysterious disappearance after a massive DDoS attack campaign supported by extortion attempts. The latest reports state that the site admins of the Empire Market had been struggling hard to keep the marketplace surfacing the dark web, while the latest cyber-attacks have left them under peer pressure. This pressure probably has pushed the marketplace to rest and provided the patrons with the rarest possibility of it to return.
Many darknet vendors and their customers have no clue about the whereabouts of the Empire Market. Their money is stuck in the escrow which left them is serious thought of the next plan of action for them. It would be just sufficient to say that the sudden disappearance of the world’s largest online darknet drug market named Empire Market has almost shattered the trust of the patrons that they had placed on the market and its escrow system by far.
KELA, an Israeli cyber threat intelligence monitoring firm has provided some information on the same. The company has analyzed several forums where the darknet users gather a lot and have offered some insights on their actions.
“Upon analysis of several posts in forums such as Dread and TheHub, where darknet actor freely communicate, we’ve noticed that there seems to be a consensus on the fact that most users will likely begin moving their activities and communications to the following three popular underground sites: Versus, White House Market, and Icarus, as well as the messaging app, Wickr,” states Victoria Kivilevich, a Threat Intelligence Analyst at KELA.
In another forum post that KELA had provided, states that one of the previous drug market vendors of the Empire Market named “Arbeitsamt” had mentioned that they had lost €5,000 when the marketplace exited suddenly.
“I basically lost my living existence. My main income source. I was so committed since Empire had so much traffic, it just worked,” said the vendor, announcing plans to join Monopoly potentially.
There has been rigid mention of Torrez and Monopoly; the analyst believes that those preferences would be secondary with the above mentioned dark web markets taking precedence.
“Additionally, we’ve noticed several also mentioning moving to Monopoly or Torrez, however, those were not the main ones discussed. Below we’ve included several screenshots showing the chatter between Empire’s members about where to go next,” Kivilevich continued.
The Fee-Free Markets Come In Place
The dark web forums are hit with a lot of chatter on the Empire Market Scam. From those, it can be found out that some of the illegal marketplaces such as Icarus are in the process of waiving fees for drawing in the patrons of the Empire Market. Nevertheless, these alternate marketplaces are not yet guaranteed to be effective in surpassing the DDoS attacks and extortion threats, which led to the demise of the Empire Market.
“Icarus Market is apparently waving [sic] vendor fees to get the vendors to come after the shutdown of the Empire. I’m sure it will make most of the fallout. The only thing about the most popular market is all the DDoS attacks that’s sure to follow, don’t think I’ll rush in anywhere for the 1st week or 2 if possible,” stated one user.
Another forum post from a vendor claims to offer the best cocaine in Europe that will be shipped from Germany, all tracked. The post has reassured the potential customers that the vendor has had literally no intentions to scam anyone or disappear with the funds in the escrow and been hit by an exit scam. What is more important is that the vendor shares the details of their resurfacing on the White House Market and Wickr.
In another ironic forum post that is shared by KELA, a satisfied customer who had received a product has opined to pay up the $250 of that $16,000 that they believe they were responsible for, as the escrow that was earlier maintained by the Empire Market has vanished.
“I wish I could make the [sic] fully right for you. The product did land and looks good. I’ll be sure to look you up on WH soon,” said the user, sharing their plan to visit White House (WH) Market next.
At this point, it can surely be stated that although several extortion events and multiple DDoS have led the Empire Market to come to a halt, the alternate markets exist and pave roads for the cybercriminals to thrive. Also, there is no guarantee that these markets will stay immune throughout. Last but not least, it can be said that the increased popularity of these illicit dark web markets could lead them to be scrutinized by the law enforcement agencies such as FBI.
Source: Bleeping Computer
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