The Empire Market has exit scammed followed by a series of the DDOS attacks that made the market impossible to sustain in the long run. Initially, it was just the DDoS attack that the market went offline, and no one heard about the market for 72 hours. It was believed to be the most extensive offline period for the Empire Market since 2011. Soon after the rumours of the possible exit scam surfaced the darknet, Empire Market’s exit scam worth $30K had created a stir within the darknet vendors and the users. Now, the defunct market’s patrons are moving towards Empire Market alternatives. There are a lot of assumptions and deductions on who would stand next to and rule the darknet.
In this specific article, we are going to discuss the potential candidates serving as the Empire Market alternatives, the parameters to check before deciding which darknet markets you would access and place your orders next and the other factors of the dark web network that you might want to get into.
How To Determine Whether A Darknet Marketplace Is Good Enough?
The rush for the new Empire Market alternative is already in the process, and here are the most renowned dark web marketplaces highly accessed in the cybercriminal community. There are some parameters that the vendors and as well as the buyers need to consider before choosing their appropriate darknet markets from the lot that would serve most beneficially as the Empire Market, the famous darknet drug market used to be. As a matter of fact, the critical feature that makes a dark web market “good” or “best” depends on the compulsory PGP verification or Pretty Good Privacy Verification and the presence of Mutisig payment system. Apart from these two, there are other parameters as mentioned below:
Forced Pretty Good Privacy (PGP)
While considering a deep web marketplace, the users must look into whether the particular marketplace forces its members to sign their communications utilizing the PGP verification. Verifying PGP before sending the messages to ensure the legitimacy of both the buyers and as well as the sellers. There would absolutely be no chances of other people knowing about the discussion whatsoever.
Multisig Payment System
The next parameter the users require to consider before ordering stuff from any darkweb market is a multi-signature payment system. It is a third-party payment method where the multiple authorizations from various individuals must take place with the help of cryptocurrency transactions. Multisig feature offers on the top security during the transactions.
Payment Methods or Cryptocurrencies Acceptance
It is always recommended for having a look at the cryptocurrencies that the marketplace approves of transacting. There is nothing better if multiple cryptocurrencies are supported, such as Bitcoin (BTC), Monero (XMR), Litecoin (LTE), Ethereum (ETH) and more.
Two Factor Authentication or 2FA
A right marketplace would definitely have two-factor authentication or 2FA for their user accounts that would ensure added security.
The Finalize Early, also termed as FE, permits the funds to be released before the seller or the vendor is satisfied with the transaction the buyer has made. This would reduce the potential damage from the Bitcoin price fluctuations and the chance of falling victim to any scam.
The vendor bond is exclusively for the vendors who are interested in registering themselves to a darknet marketplace. If the vendor bond is high, it might lead to vendor hesitation, although it is excellent for keeping away scammers posing to be vendors and registering on the markets. Thus, vendor bonds are essential.
It is much essential to know how much the darknet market is earning from each of the transactions.
The browsers supporting access to the specific dark web market. Multi-browser access permission is, of course, better.
Choose The Best Empire Market Alternative Through Analysis
A table provided by the Digital Shadows compares the various popular deepweb markets and the features they provide. This would help one to understand what elements are present in the marketplaces and in what features they lack behind.
|Darknet Markets||Icarus Market||Canada HQ||Dark0de Reborn||Deep Sea Market||White House Market||Dark Market||ToRReZ Market||The Versus Project||Monopoly Market||Neptune Market||Hydra Market|
|Creation Date||05 April, 2020||Approx. 2018||24 May, 2020||30 January, 2020||Approx. February 2019||Approx. June 2019||Approx. April 2020||09 December, 2019||01 August, 2019||23 June, 2020||Approx, 2015|
|Finalize Early (FE)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Unknown||Yes|
|Vendor Bond||USD 300||USD 500||USD 200 / 1000 / 2000||USD 150||USD 400||USD 400||USD 250||USD 250||Free||USD 125||USD 250|
|Total Listings||35,600 |
|Access Platform||Tor||Tor||Tor||Tor||Tor & I2P||Tor||Tor||Tor||Tor||Tor||Tor|
|Payment Methods||BTC, XMR, LTC||BTC||BTC, XMR||BTC||BTC (Third Party), XMR||BTC, XMR||BTC, XMR, LTC, ZCash||BTC, XMR||XMR||BTC, XMR, LTC||BTC|
As researched by the Digital Shadows:
“The table shows that Dark0de Reborn, Canada HQ, Monopoly Market, The Versus Project, and ToRReZ market fit the Dread guide’s criteria for their use of multisig and preventing the risk of exit scams like Empire. However, Icarus Market has at least three times the number of listings on each platform, with over 35,000 listings as of September 2020. This figure increased from 25,000 to 35,000 just in the space of the last month. Icarus also has above average commission rates and allows popular payment options: Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Monero.
Monopoly and White House Market rate highly on their approach to security and their strict use of Monero, compare this to Empire which predominantly operated in Bitcoin but still accept limited use of Monero, and Litecoin in order to facilitate a more extensive user base. While any marketplace could exit scam, if the administrators implement reliable security methods and prioritize quality over quantity, there will be less potential profit and less incentive to deceive its audience in the long-run. On the other hand, Monopoly and White House Market can only boast 22,000 listings between them, despite having launched eight months before Icarus. Although the dark web community appreciates features that improve security and users’ anonymity, many cybercriminals will likely base their choice on the number of listings and vendors with the most comfortable payment option available, predominantly Bitcoin.”
The rampant discussion on the Dread forum regarding the Icarus marketplace mentions that the community is already sensing possible exit scam in the future. They are losing trust in the market. One of the Dread users has already predicted that the Icarus market is going to exit soon and that some of the vendors are already complaining about the deactivation of their FE privilege for absolutely no reason. The market is now gathering the escrow money to flee with it.
However, it is pretty common to spread rumours of a competitor through the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) method. After the exit scam of Empire Market, the marketplace taking the throne of the defunct has gone excessively competitive following Empire Market alternatives.
Top 10 Empire Market Alternatives
Here are the best Empire Market Alternatives that is likely predominant after the downfall of the Empire Market. You might want to also check out the top darknet markets list:
- World Market:
- Canada HQ: canadahq2lo3logs.onion
- Dark0de Reborn: darkodevasbv5yof.onion
- Deep Sea Market: n4kq7b3eguym4kf75g5msumwgh3ydeikxeh3r5ywcjmnlgryt5qd4nyd.onion
- White House Market: auzbdiguv5qtp37xoma3n4xfch62duxtdiu4cfrrwbxgckipd4aktxid.onion
- Dark Market: darkmarketsomqvzqfjudpd6t5eabgvvpplrbtzq6prervyogenlrlqd.onion (Seized)
- ToRReZ Market: yxuy5oau7nugw4kpb4lclrqdbixp3wvc4iuiad23ebyp2q3gx7rtrgqd.onion
- The Versus Project: jiujfvropivzmaj6slgtfz5hljfrdk77elcg3np43zrnjrlolpbctjqd.onion
- Monopoly: monopolyberbucxu.onion
- Hydra Market: hydraruzxpnew4af.onion
Few more potential dark web markets that are worth mentioning are:
- Hyper Market: xgthob7w4xzjdrdqvv5iubgn34ysrqirdq4ovj3fyt33fne7wvar6dad.onion
Hyper Market Alternative Link: igcaswsjb5ds3sc3jicpv2pboz7w2rk3uek3txfnmjx72jucqglrjzad.onion
- Cannazon: cannazon4gbjluus.onion
- Tor Market: rrlm2f22lpqgfhyydqkxxzv6snwo5qvc2krjt2q557l7z4te7fsvhbid.onion
Some Probable Questions In This Scenario
All of these competing factors need to be considered along with the potential risk of another probable exit scam. In this regard, you may want to know why the cybercriminals stick to the marketplace format even though there are other formats to consider, such as a forum or the communication applications like Wickr or Telegram.
Are There Any Forum Worth Considering?
Well, the English-speaking dark web marketplaces aid the English linguistic cybercriminals to only access that marketplaces in many ways as they do not have any other ways to turn to the forums. The English-speaking forum is unstable and uninspiring at the same time. It has also been seen that the potential forums attracting a large number of the skilled threat actor user base often gets dissolved before time, for example, Torum. Whereas in some of the other forums like RaidForums, users are novice or scammers.
Why Should I Choose Russian Forums Over English Ones?
The English-speaking threat actors have migrated mainly to the Russian forums for its longevity and high credit value of the listings they host. But for many, these forums are a bit challenging. This is because these forums are filled with cybercrime jargon and slangs that machine translation software fails to translate, and the English speakers could not follow the conversations. Some of the Russians even refuse to transact with the English speakers.
Is It The Best Idea To Switch To The Messaging Applications?
Another alternative to the dark web marketplaces is a transaction through the messaging services Wickr or Telegram. ECommerce platforms such as Shoppy or Selly can also be utilized. But they also come with their respective disadvantages. A fear always prevails with the security of the platforms as they place their trust in the non-criminal identities. Another challenge is that it becomes tough to market the products to the right personnel via the channels and/or groups. On the contrary, it is easier to advertise on or search for products on the marketplaces.
Why Are The Darknet Marketplaces More Advantageous Than Other Platforms?
There are a couple of reasons as described below:
- Marketplaces provide a convenient and fast user experience.
- The markets come with a centralized escrow payment system.
- The darknet marketplaces make it easier for the vendors to advertise their goods and services.
- Listings on the markets can be purchased using few clicks and are devoid of any clumsy conversation threads.
- Many markets offer multiple cryptocurrency support.
- Vendor reviews could guide the other buyers into buying or not buying any product.
- Markets, in general, are devoid of any strict rules which are otherwise present in the forums.
Will history repeat itself? – Digital Shadows has an explanation:
“As we saw with the demise of AlphaBay, Hansa, and Dream Market when a marketplace’s users are abandoned, they seek sanctuary in another platform. Could the recent explosion in the number of listings that Icarus market hosts indicate that the site is positioning itself to capitalize on the wealth likely to come its way? Especially if it attracts a substantial number of new joiners and then executes a text-book exit scam? Only time will tell.
Like all of us, cybercriminals tend to be creatures of habit. Suppose a marketplace demonstrates it has some security awareness but is also widely accessible through its use of popular cryptocurrencies, attracts top-level vendors, and provides active support to its user base. In that case, cybercriminals will likely forgo iron-clad security platforms with smaller numbers of vendors and listings in favour of moderately secure platforms with a large number of vendors and products, inevitably restarting the exit scam cycle once again.”
Since most of the darknet markets are striving hard to be the best Empire Market alternative, the competition has immensely elevated. Agartha Market could also have been a potential competitor had it not conducted an exit scam. It is time to see which dark web market rises, rules and stays for a longer period than the now-defunct Empire Market.
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