Popular darknet market AlphaBay, responsible for helping Monero’s value surge in 2016 after it partnered with Oasis and started accepting the cryptocurrency, seems to be down since Tuesday night, and users are now starting to grow suspicious.
While details are still scarce, various users stumbled upon a large bitcoin withdrawal coming from what many believe to be one of AlphaBay’s addresses. The withdrawal is of 1,479.03904709 bitcoin, worth about $3,8 million, to various addresses. This, along with silence from AlphaBay staff on the market’s subreddit, has led some users to believe we’re witnessing an exit scam – a scheme in which marketplace owners shut down the business and keep user funds to themselves.
Other users restate that patience is a virtue, and that the market has been down for a relatively small amount of time, implying that it could be down for maintenance, as is common for AlphaBay. Moreover, the large bitcoin transaction may look suspicious, but it hasn’t been proven that the address belongs to AlphaBay.
A Reddit user named “SarahLKJSGDHF” decided to rationalize on the market’s subreddit. She stated:“But let’s be rational about this. All the alphabay links being down is exactly what happens when the staff take the site down to do work on it. Even the forums are usually down during this process, though it has at times been put up prior to the rest of the site, (usually to quell the rumors people post here). And there’s not nearly as much commenting or activity on here as during previous downtimes”
For now, users can only remain calm and wait for updates. Another redditor, named “reallywannacry” stated that his bitcoins are still in the wallet he deposited to, unspent:“But whats strange, i made the transfer 5 minutes before they went offline and if i check my address where i sent the btc to, the money is stilll there, unspent. So i still have the hope that some day it will come back to my wallet”
Exit scams aren’t that uncommon among darknet marketplaces. In 2015, a marketplace known as Evolve shut down, taking $12 million worth of bitcoin away from users. Back in May, another darknet market known as Outlaw also allegedly pulled an exit scam on its users. At first, the website published a message on its homepage stating that it was hacked but the timing, for most users, was a little off.
At the time, AlphaBay still seemed to be down. After various attempts, we were unable to reach the website.
Another reddit thread reminds users that AlphaBay is an established market and that when markets go down, phishers become more active. As such, users should use known AlphaBay links and be very, very careful.