After two of darknet’s biggest markets, Hansa and AlphaBay, were taken down by two global law enforcement operations, Dream Market gained thousands of users and became one of darknet’s biggest marketplaces.
On September 13, according to reports, Dream Market went down for several hours, which led users to believe its admins had pulled an exit scam – a popular scam in which fraudsters shut down their services and disappear with user funds – or that law enforcement compromised it.
After the market came back up, several users started claiming that their accounts were emptied and that some of the transactions were automatically finalized, despite vendors not receiving any of the money held in escrow.
On Dream Market’s subreddit, a user named “smithrocks2227” described his experience, and claims to have screenshots of everything that happened: from the deposit confirmation, to his balance after the market came back up. He stated:
“I deposited coin 40 minutes before DM [Dream Market] went down yesterday and it showed up in my wallet. Yesterday I was able to log in for a brief moment (5 minutes before going down again) and it showed that it was in my account. After being down all night and into this afternoon, I finally logged in today and my account is ZERO. I have time stamps and Screen shots showing it there, pending and then confirmed and then today BOOM GONE....”
While various users now believe Dream Market stole the funds, its staff clarified that the outage and the disappearance of funds were due to a “hard drive crash.” According to an announcement, Dream Market’s admins are currently trying to recover the corrupted data, in an attempt to recover lost funds. The announcement further clarified that not all users were affected, but that a solution for those who were affected is being worked on.
What really happened isn’t clear. However, if Dream Market’s admins were to pull an exit scam on their users, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to bring the website back up and announce that they’re working on the problem.
The occurrence will raise suspicions against Dream Market, as some users already believed that it was under law enforcement control. Notably, a user who stated Hansa was under law enforcement control before it was revealed, already stated that Dream Market was under control as well.
After both AlphaBay and Hansa were taken down, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the takedowns at a press briefing at the Department of Justice (DOJ), and warned darknet market users, stating:
"This case, pursued by dedicated agents and prosecutors, says you are not safe. You cannot hide. We will find you, dismantle your organization and network. And we will prosecute you.”
Featured image from Shutterstock.