AlphaBay marketplace was originally seized in 2017 but now someone claiming to be DeSnake, the original AlphaBay co-founder has announced bringing the marketplace back to business.
There’s little doubt that law enforcement agencies worldwide have got hold of cybercriminal marketplaces, and their business has almost gone defunct. But, seems like that won’t be the case for long because the most notorious Dark Web marketplace ever, AlphaBay, seems to have been relaunched by the same administrator after the FBI shut it down four years back.
According to Tom Robinson of Elliptic, a new version of the AlphaBay marketplace has been launched. The marketplace was initially launched in 2014 and became the largest darknet marketplace in no time, but taken down in July 2017 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Europol, and Dutch National Police.
DeSnake’s Message to Cybercriminals
Apparently, someone claiming to be DeSnake, the original AlphaBay co-founder, security administrator, and moderator, posted a lengthy message informing the darknet community that the marketplace will be making a comeback.
According to Robinson’s blog post on LinkedIn, the posting, the revamped version of AlphaBay will be the source code of a hacking tool that could be used for stealing money or banking credentials from victims.
DeSnake also provided the marketplace’s original PGP key so that potential customers could verify the platform’s authenticity by checking on public PGP key servers.
AlphaBay Launched with New Rules
DeSnake stated that the revamped AlphaBay is here to stay. To ensure persistence, the moderator has used secure and audited code along with bulletproof servers and has launched the marketplace with safeguards against disruptions that could be caused by hardware failure, seizures, or police raids.
Moreover, the admin claims to have used a new automated system dubbed AlphaGuard to make sure vendors or users can access their wallet funds and escrow all the time on Tor and I2P.
Another new system DeSnak claims to have used is the Automatic Dispute Solver to solve buyer/seller issues without the moderator’s intervention.
The new rules are also part of the posting from DeSnake. The moderator claims that all members of the platform will have to follow the new rules to avoid attracting law enforcement agencies. These include:
- No doxing
- Omission of hitman services and porn/erotica
- Avoiding discussions of guns and ammunition,
- Offering COVID-9 vaccines or fentanyl-laced/based substances
- No activity from people/organizations/government from Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia, or citizens’ data.
Moreover, this time around, ransomware selling and discussions will be prohibited as well.
What the FBI has to Say
AlphaBay marketplace was seized by the FBI and a Canadian citizen Alexander Cazes aka “Alpha02”, using the alias Alpha02/Admin, and one of its administrators was arrested in Thailand. Although Cazes committed suicide in Thai prison, DeSnake, the other partner, was never caught, and that’s why he was able to relaunch the marketplace after lying low for four years.
This also shows how difficult it is for law enforcement agencies to contain cybercriminal marketplaces for long. We are still waiting for the FBI to release a statement over this latest development.