The “Empire Market” Is Offline and Some Smell Exit Scam

By Bill Toulas / August 25, 2020

One of the biggest and most successful dark web markets out there, the “Empire Market,” has been offline for three days now. Some believe this is due to a prolonged DDoS attack keeping the platform down, but the longer the situation goes, the more people are starting to think this is an exit scam.

Both scenarios are generally commonplace in the dark web scene, so the rumors are all over the place right now. Also, whenever a dark web market is exit scamming, a DDoS attack is always put out there as an excuse to give operators time.

The Empire Market has suffered catastrophic DDoSing before, but this wasn’t enough to bring on permanent prestige damage. After all, DDoS susceptibility is something that affects all markets and is yet to be addressed effectively. The indications point towards an attack, as some things like Bitcoin payments, seem to be partially functioning, while others remain down.

Also, there are phishing links in circulation, attempting to steal Empire Market user credentials. This could be coordinated, or it could be malicious actors taking advantage of the situation. Everything goes on the dark web, so anything is possible.

As for the exit scam scenario, the first messages coming from the operators are ruling this out, but of course, this is what exit scams always look like. If the Empire Market was exit scamming, they would typically keep the payment systems up, and they would cause a fabricated disruption on the order placement and fulfillment. This is a method that helps operators maximize the funds they’ll grab at the end, and indeed, limited user reports on social media point to that direction.

dark web reddit

Source: Reddit

An interesting rumor published by someone who claims to be a moderator on the platform says the operators agreed to pay $15k to DDoS actors only to keep the market up and running.

Allegedly, the operators got tired fixing stuff, paying extortionists, and defending attacks, so they simply decided to give up amid yet another troubling weekend.


Source: Bleeping Computer

The moderator says there was no exit scam or market shutdown planned, but the operators got worn out, and they had even given up proffering instructions to the mod team for about six months now. The person also reports that none of the admins is online on jabber, the mod panel is down, and so it really doesn’t look like the Empire Market is coming back online ever again.

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