Dark web black market Alpha Bay went offline on June 5, leaving users to wonder whether its operators did it and ran off with their money.
Reassurances that the market will be back online shortly rang hollow, and the Wall Street Journal revealed on Thursday that the market was shut down in a coordinated action by law enforcement agencies in the US, Canada, and Thailand.
During the action, Alexander Cazes, a 26-year-old Canadian suspected of being one of the market’s administrators, was arrested in Thailand at the request of US authorities. A few days later, he was found dead in his cell at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau in Laksi district. By all appearances, he took his own life. The procedure for his extradition to the US was apparently underway.
Alpha Bay was launched in late 2014 and has, in time, surpassed Silk Road in size. All kinds of contraband – including drugs and stolen payment card information – was sold and bought through it.
Alpha Bay was one of the biggest markets of this kind on the dark web, and its disappearance is forcing its users to turn to other markets, like Hansa and Dream Market.
But according to Wired, both of these markets are having trouble absorbing such a big influx of new users. In fact, Hansa temporarily stopped accepting new registrations, and Dream Market has been inundated with phishers who are taking advantage of the chaos by trying to steal users’ credentials and money (much like Michael Richo admitted to recently).
For the moment, it is unknown how law enforcement managed to find and seize Alpha Bay’s infrastructure, but one thing is sure: demand for such markets is constant, and it’s just a matter of time until another market fills the void left by Alpha Bay.