The criminal underworld just lost its favorite messaging app

RIP, EncroChat.


July 3, 2020

If your friends have been swapping messages on Encrochat, it’s time to hit them with a little side eye.

You can think of EncroChat as WhatsApp’s evil twin. Criminals across Europe gathered to discuss the mundanities of drug dealing — names of clients, price points, amounts of cocaine and ketamine on hand.

For hitmen and drug dealers, downloading EncroChat was a professional necessity. As of last month, ~60k people were using it.

But then European authorities hacked EncroChat and downloaded reams of incriminating messages. On Thursday, they announced they had arrested 746 criminals and recovered 2 metric tons of drugs, 77 firearms, and $67m+ in cash.

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How EncroChat found product/market fit

You couldn’t get EncroChat off of the App Store. To use the service, you had to pay thousands of dollars a year for an EncroPhone, which VICE compared to an Android device with the GPS, camera, and microphone removed.

What made EncroChat so popular was its arsenal of privacy tools: Enter a PIN, for instance, and the “wipe” feature would clear your device of all data.

EncroChat shut down last month, but an encrypted phone company called Omerta has already stepped in to fill the void.

Referring to EncroChat, Omerta wrote in a blog post, “Did you narrowly escape the recent Mass Extinction Event? Celebrate with 10 percent off. Join the Omerta family and communicate with impunity.”

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