Last month, the Amazon of dark net marketplaces, Dream Market, announced it will close at the end of April after reportedly suffering a hack-attack that held the site hostage for $400k.
When it shuts down for good at the end of the month, hundreds of thousands of listings will close, eviscerating millions of dollars of weekly trade.
As the heart of the underground economy scrambles for a lifeboat, whispers of a mysterious new partner-market that will replace Dream have surfaced — but seasoned dark-webbers suspect it’s a trap.
For those who keep the light on
Founded in 2013, Dream Market has since been the biggest marketplace on the dark web, specializing in drug sales and stolen data.
Now, Dream will soon join Hansa, AlphaBay and, of course, Silk Road in the boneyard of darknet marketplaces.
Like the others, Dream’s partial closure didn’t come out of the blue. Multiple sustained attacks have halted the site for most of the previous 2 months, which would give the FBI just enough time to clone, control, and monitor a new site’s server traffic before another great migration.
Since the fall of Silk Road, the playbook for taking down dark web drug dealers is pretty well established, and it doesn’t take Ross Ulbricht to see that Dream’s closure is hitting the same beats.
“After so many users got stung in the Hansa honeypot operation, there is a similar sense of dread about Dream’s claim to reopen on a new site,” says Patrick Shortis, a criminology researcher at Manchester University.
Is this the end of an era?
Shortis maintained to Vice that this is not the end of decentralized drug trade. “Trade may drop during these kinds of events, but it recuperates quickly. I don’t see why this would be different.”
That said, if the Feds’ key strategy is to destroy user trust, each of these sting operations, as obvious as they may be now, make the dark web waters even murkier.
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