September 10, 2019
The admins of the “Wall Street Market” have gathered a good cash stash of about $14.2 million coming from users of the popular dark web marketplace and ran away. The users who lost their money from their accounts are typically malware sellers, drug and weapon dealers, data dump mongers, etc., so generally, no one is expected to go and report this to the police. The Wall Street Market (WSM) offered users features that were geared towards reliability and protection, like 2FA, an Escrow system (payment protection), listing quality checks, and superior customer service. As it turned out, it was all an elaborate scheme that tricked thousands of crooks.
Over the last couple of days, the admins started moving funds from the users’ Bitcoin wallets to their own. Since last week, the admins have invoked server-side problems that locked all funds that were stuck in the escrow, supposedly causing synchronization issues with the main Bitcoin blockchain. Users could not withdraw the money from the escrow, and so the admins set up a new wallet that was independent to the WSM backend. This was touted as a temporary measure to deal with the problematic server, but of course, no one believed them. Scammers and fraudsters know all the tricks, but they couldn’t do anything at this point anyway.
The loss of their money is not the only or even the biggest concern for vendors of the WSM. Members of the platform’s staff are now blackmailing vendors who sold illegal items, asking for 0.05 Bitcoin (about $280) or else they will give their address to the police. Things went a step further again when one of the WSM mods disclosed his login credentials and the server IP, so the law authorities can now sign in to the WSM backend and access all of the juicy information about the users of the darknet marketplace.
Of much greater concern to users: The same mod has posted his login credentials to Dread. This gives anyone the ability to sign in to WSM as the mod and access all information pertaining to users and their orders that isn't encrypted. He also gave the server IP address up. pic.twitter.com/YD3kuBAYk5
— Patrick Shortis (@Patrick_Shortis) April 24, 2019
According to analysts, the reason for this move by WSM is probably the imminent shutdown of another major player in the field, the Dream Market, which is scheduled for the end of this month. The FBI and the Europol closely follow this shutdown, so WSM didn’t want to take the risk of having thousands of “followed” users jumping onto their ship, no matter the anticipated rise in the platform's commissions. With all that’s happening, the only major market remaining in the darknet will be the Tochka, although brand new platforms are bound to pop up soon. The sale of illicit goods will never stop anyway, and as it happens in the real world, it’s just changing places.