In mid-July 2017, Alphabay, the largest darknet marketplace (DNM), died out and customers were unsure whether the admins had been arrested by law enforcement or if they were ‘an exit scam. Shortly after the site turned dark, law enforcement revealed that an organized police task force, from various jurisdictions, had infiltrated Alphabay alongside the DNM Hansa. Thai police also arrested Alexandre Cazes, the alleged administrator of the Alphabay market. Now, over four years later, Alphabay (AB) would be back as the original AB administrator “Desnake” ostensibly has “proven control” over the AB administrators’ PGP key.
The so-called return of the Alphabay, the unstable new platform, the veracity of Desnake’s PGP key questionable
Over the past few weeks, users, researchers and darknet market watchers (DNM) have been discussing the so-called return of the Alphabay (AB) market. DNM was the biggest darknet market in 2017, and before the Deepdotweb post hit it, it had shown that AB had a 96% approval rating. When the site went dark that summer four years ago, thousands of AB users flocked to DNMs Hansa and Dream. Hansa users were unaware that the market had been seized by international law enforcement.
Dutch police and prosecution dismantled Hansa in early June and basically exploited the DNM, while users flocked to Hansa after the fall of AB. While operating Hansa, law enforcement collected a lot of information about vendors and frequent customers who used DNM and seized thousands of bitcoins. Then there was the so-called AB Kingpin Alexandre Cazes who was arrested by the Thai police. It was assumed that Cazes was or played the role of the AB administrator nicknamed “Desnake”. However, Cazes was found dead in his cell after his arrest in Thailand.
Fast forward to today, Hansa is gone and the administrators of DNM Dream have decided to close the shop. In August 2021, visitors using the Dread Forum noted the appearance of the “Desnake” resurfacing. Desnake also proved his identity by tapping into the account’s historical PGP key. Apparently, a former AB moderator called “disc0” also vouched for Desnake. Darkowl.com researchers published a detailed report of the findings related to the alleged return of Desnake and how the user promoted the brand new Alphabay DNM “with services hosted on Tor and I2P”.
Darkowl notes that the new AB has been “unstable” since its return and that users are experiencing “frequent 503 errors, user registration issues, and login timeouts.” The I2P services attached to the new AB rarely load and Darkowl claims the AB user base is much smaller than Desnake is bragging about.
“Desnake claims there have been 15,000 user accounts created, 450 registered vendors and over 400 lists published at the time of writing,” the Darkowl report notes.
Darkowl report says new Alphabay moderators speak with ‘impeccable English’, Deep Web and Tor researcher Dark.Fail comments on alleged return
Darkowl researchers also suspect that it is possible that the AB service on Tor is hosted “alongside the Dread services”. This is because the newly launched AB offers DDoS protection and clock captcha services similar to those of Dread. The in-depth results uncovered by Darkowl further show that the new AB marketplace is driven by three nicknames: “TheCypriote”, “tempest” and “wxmaz”.
“All of the moderators speak very formally with impeccable English and spring with unbridled passion for the need for a new concept of decentralized markets, the complex compromises and advantages of peer-to-peer networks, and a deep desire to ‘establish a greater sense of community, “the Darkowl report notes.” Desnake’s articles are particularly’ wordy ‘with long articles on Dread and the About and FAQ section of the market, “the report adds.
In addition to Darkowl’s report, the anonymous journalist and researcher known as “dark.fail” (@darkdotfail) tweeted about the return of the so-called Alphabay and gave a warning. “Alphabay, a No.1 darknet market seized by law enforcement four years ago, has recently returned”, dark.fail said Thursday. “Desnake has proven his control over [an] old PGP key, an original site administrator. Many naive people trust him. We will see how it plays out. [Law enforcement] can grab PGP private keys like anything else, ”the researcher added.
AB’s apparent comeback follows the recent announcement of the White House market retirement, which points out that another White House market will not return in the future. Often, malicious entities like to create fake DNMs with legendary market names in order to gain more trust from the community. The White House was a monero (XMR) – only accepts DNM, and the screenshots show that the new Alphabay also offers acceptance of monero.
Also, what if law enforcement (LE) officials use AB PGP keys to lure unsuspecting victims in the same way Hansa was seized? There are many cases throughout history that show that the global LE has worked undercover to catch bigger fish. In the Hansa case, Dutch LE agents with partners from Germany, Lithuania, the United States and Europol infiltrated Hansa from within for more than a month, collecting information on each participant.
“In total, more than 1,000 bitcoins were seized,” said the Dutch prosecution detailed. “On average, 1,000 orders were placed per day in response to some 40,000 advertisements. The marketplace had 1,765 different sellers. Since the acquisition of the management of Hansa Market, more than 50,000 transactions have been recorded, in particular for soft and hard drugs.
What do you think of the supposed return of Alphabay and the veracity of the Desnake PGP key? Let us know what you think of this topic in the comments section below.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons, New Alphabay, Darkowl screenshots and report,
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. This is not a direct offer or the solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, nor a recommendation or endorsement of any product, service or business. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or allegedly caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, good or service mentioned in this article.