Emerging reports from Reddit indicate that some TradeRoute Market vendors are threating former clients of disclosing their information if they are not paid a certain amount of money in Bitcoins.
Due to the sensitivity of the matter and the fact that the TradeRoute marketplace was a hub for various types of illegal goods and services, some customers are likely to get duped and pay the amount.
If indeed the allegations are true, then the information to be revealed are the buying habits of an individual, the products they acquire most, as well as their username on the TradeRoute Market.
However, the possibility of this happening is low. Because, if indeed a TradeRoute Market vendor is to reveal this information, then a variety of factors much also be presented, such as how they were able to acquire the available evidence, how they got ahold of the information and how they know the location of the customer.
In a bid to do so, they will instead get themselves into trouble.
Addressing users’ fears that the vendor will report their information to law enforcement if they don’t pay up the Bitcoin amount, this will depend on the country of the vendor, the location of the client and the magnitude of the crime.
For example, reporting the sale and distribution of items such as weapons or credit cards from country A to country B is not the business of another country, let’s say C.
With this in mind, then it is clear that authorities of a given country only get involved in a particular activity of criminal nature, though they will often launch investigations or make arrests if an offense involves their country or citizens in one way or the other.
A notable instance is when the founder of the infamous Silk Road market was arrested by U.S. authorities as the lead person behind the marketplace.
Multiple countries were quick to involve themselves in the investigation since the crimes he was associated with were happening not only in the U.S., but in other parts of the world as well.
Yet another sting operation that brought together authorities from multiple countries is the crackdown and ultimate seizure of AlphaBay and Hansa markets earlier this year.
During the existence of these two markets, the site operators provided an avenue for users from across the world to access various illegal goods and services.
The result was a spike in crime rates caused by gun violence and deaths as a result of drug misuse in certain countries such as the U.S., Canada, several nations across Europe and other regions across the globe.
And this justified the reason for the authorities in the various countries to collaborate and solve the matter for the good of the country.
However, there is a possibility that it’s a hacker who sent the messages to TradeRoute clients. But if this is the case, then the affected parties are those who never used PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption to send and receive messages and other data.
In simple terms, PGP is an encryption method that puts into use a public key and a private key. The public key is used by the sender(s) of the message to encrypt the content, whereas the private key is used by the receiver to decrypt information.
It’s the receiver who gives the sender their PGP to use.
Since a hacker is not aware of the public key and the private key, it is technically impossible for them to decipher intercepted data in whatsoever manner.
However, some other Reddit users have rubbished off the matter, claiming that the move is by desperate vendors trying to recover their funds after a spontaneous outage among TradeRoute and other darknet markets last month.
Indeed, extreme moments call for desperate measures.
When TradeRoute, Tochka, Dream Market and Wall Street went offline, both vendors and buyers lost their Bitcoins at the least expected moment.
What’s more is that the event happened simultaneously, affecting thousands of dark web users from around the world.
One would wonder how all the markets operated and run independently would all mysteriously disappear from the scene at the same time.
It’s not yet clear what exactly happened, but most in the community have come to the conclusion that TradeRoute admin(s) pulled off an exit scam, making away with large amounts of user-owned funds.
All is not lost though, as an analysis of darknet markets trends and patterns has shown that no matter what happens in the illegal multi-million dollar dark web industry, other markets will sprout and provide a new hub for the acquisition of the various types of goods and services initially offered by the other markets.
And thus, proving that the statement “if one door closes another one opens” is correct.
It is therefore advisable that regular users in the Tor-based markets ensure that they take precautions to ensure they aren’t losing funds or leaving traces which may expose their identity in the event of a possible exit or law enforcement-initiated takedown.
Among the first things to do is to ensure that funds are only deposited to an account if the individual wants to use them by making a purchase.
Doing so will minimize the risk of financial loss if a site is hacked or busted.
At times, if the vendor is not available to respond to an order, the funds are automatically refunded to the customer.
Most users tend to leave Bitcoins or whatever form of cryptocurrency they are using in possession of a third party, which is quite risky given that the sector is very unpredictable.
So again, if this happens, it is wise to withdraw all funds to a personal wallet to have control over them. The number of people who have permanently lost their funds by leaving them with a third party is surprisingly high.
Finally, darknet users should strive as much as possible to safeguard their identity by using usernames and account handles that do not resemble their real names in any way.
By doing so, they can easily dodge dangerous situations that are likely to expose their identity in the future.
Have you received a letter from someone claiming to be a TradeRoute Market vendor? Share your story in the comments so others can see what happened and get advice about what to do.