At first was the Silk Road, then later came AlphaBay. Perhaps the arrest of Silk Road founder Ross William Ulbricht and simultaneous seizure of the market provided room for other markets such as AlphaBay to grow.
The closure of Silk Road, the first darknetmarket of its kind, left users stranded. And in a bid for sellers to continue selling and buyers to keep acquiring the various types of illegal goods/services that they needed, it was essential for them to look for other markets to continue trading.
Apart from the effect of leaving users without an avenue to trade, the seizure of both darknetmarkets left thousands of dark web users counting the losses since some had stored their funds, which were mostly Bitcoins, in their accounts in the marketplaces.
In the case of Silk Road, which operated from February 2011 to October 2013, 26,000 Bitcoins were seized when the market was taken down. At that time, the total value of the Bitcoins was about $3.6 million, but today, the same Bitcoins are worth over $0.5 billion.
Just four years since the seizure of the Silk Road occurred, the value of the Bitcoins has skyrocketed tremendously. What’s more is that the price of the highly-volatile digital currency keeps on appreciating with time.
Even though the price of Bitcoin continues to soar, it important to note that the amount an individual in a certain area will use to purchase the cryptocurrency is different from what another individual in another region will use.
On the other hand, AlphaBay, which was launched in late 2014 and seized in mid-2017, grew to be bigger and more successful than the Silk Road.
Estimates have it that when the authorities managed to close it down, the darknet market was approximately ten times larger than its predecessor, the Silk Road.
Despite the fact that Silk Road and AlphaBay were seized by authorities, the masterminds who were both arrested had somewhat different fates.
While the man behind the first major Tor-based market was sentenced to life imprisonment, the admin behind AlphaBay—who goes by the name Alexander Cazes—ended up committing suicide in a Thai prison before court proceedings could begin.
Ross Ulbricht, who was aged 29 during his arrest, had been operating the site under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts” or DPR.He had seven charges against him including identity theft, money laundering, drug-related charges, among others.
Out of the charges DPR faced, the kingpin charge is among the notable ones. This charge is reserved for so-called “drug lords” who lead networks of criminals carrying out illegal revenue-generating operations related to drug trades.
Even though Alexander Cazes died before the AlphaBay court cases could begin, the high chances are that he would most likely get convicted of this charge just like DPR.
So, since the incident happened after DPR lost an appeal that saw him face life imprisonment in the U.S., Cazes was probably not willing to go through the same fate, which is likely why he decided to take his life.
The operation that brought down AlphaBay was conducted by multiple government agencies from across the globe, mainly in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Since AlphaBayhad a massive user base and an influence cut across several continents, it was necessary for security agencies to work collaboratively.
The seizure, which also led to the fall of another darknet market called Hansa, was considered to be among the most important criminal investigations in the year 2017.
There is, however, one thing that is not certain for the case of AlphaBay and Hansa, and this is the exact number of Bitcoins seized by the feds together other agencies that undertook the operation. But of course, it is not a mediocre sum but rather an enormous amount.
Considering that by the time AlphaBay was closed, it had also begun accepting payments in other forms of cryptocurrencies such as Monero and Ethereum, then there is no doubt that the dark web-based markets have contributed significantly to the rise of blockchaintechnology involving Bitcoin and its substitutes.
The fact that the market admins have provided users with the option of buying and selling various items/services sold on the darknet markets using digital cash, then the demand for the cryptocurrencies continues to grow since the number of dark web users also increases from time to time.
Just like any other darknet market, the highest number of sales and purchases is a result of drugs.
The same is evident from data released during the seizures of the market sites.
Other transactions that contribute to high revenue from commission for admins include the sale of credit cards, counterfeit goods and, last but not least, hacking tools.
With that said, it is important to note that apart from crackdowns by authorities, other ways in which markets exit the scene include hacking and exit scams.
The most notable hacking incident that occurred in the darknet market network is when four major darknet markets went down as a result of a DDoS attack.
As of now, most of the sites—though not all—are back onlineafter slightly more than a month. What is not clear if all users who initially lost their Bitcoins as result of the attack will get them back when they log in to their accounts.
Irrespective of the activities a given user is undertaking on adarknet market, the one thing that users ought to take care of is their funds. With the level of unpredictability in the multi-million dollardarknet market scene, a lot of persons have lost funds whenever a market goes offline.
There are even those who lost funds when the markets were still operating, and a notable instance happened recently with Dream Market.
For those intending to make a purchase, then funds should only get deposited during the time the user wants to initiate a trade. And if the amounts exceed the required trade, then they should be withdrawn to a personal account with immediate effect.
There are, however, occasions when a purchase is made on a darknet market, and the seller does not deliver the goods/services at a specific time.
This is why some markets have a policy in which the funds are automatically refunded to the customer, and AlphaBay was among the markets that had this standard in place.