On Friday the 28th of August, Empire suddenly ghosted its patrons, with reasons of a persistent distributed denial of service(DDOS) attack, which eventually cracked its DDOS line of security. This reason was last seen in a now-deleted post by an Empire moderator on the Dread deep web forum.
Whether this excuse is legitimate or not remains a mystery to all. What we, however, know according to information from Digital Shadow is that the site’s operators made away with over $30 Million worth of Bitcoin (BTC) and Monero (XLM), in escrow funds.
According to information from Digital shadows, Empire had over 55,000 product listings and a weekly sales of $6.5M, on average. With many darknet marketplaces exiting the seen without notice, Empire had grown to be the anchor of trust and hope for the deep web market.
Except for the Russian Market Place Hydra, Empire was arguably the biggest darknet marketplace, prior to its impromptu exit, especially for the English speaking darknet market.
Prior to Empire’s launch in 2018, names like Hansa, Nightmare, Bitbazaar, Alphabay, and later Dreams, were the infamous kingpins of the dark web eCommerce zone. These all unfortunately ended in, various exit scams, similar to Empire’s; With the operators absconding with all funds held in escrow.
During the second half of its short-lived, 2-year life-time, Empire had become the infamous, go-to choice for English speaking dark web patrons, looking to buy— illicit drugs, stolen cards, counterfeit goods, bulletproof hostings, and so on.
Sadly, the exit of Empire sent a seismic wave of bewilderment across social media platforms and forums like twitter, discord, deep web’s Dread, Reddit and several others. So far, we are seeing posts and comments flying across several threads, with barrages of whinings, disbeliefs, outright sarcasm, and a few offering some air of hope with alternative solutions.
Infact, hours following the exit of Empire, an anonymous deep web marketplace researcher, Dark.fail, took to a twitter review, offering stranded darknet patrons alternative shopping choices, on the deep web, which were still online and somewhat trustworthy. This “Anonymous twitter user” also emphasized that no options on the said twitter reviews were 100% assured.
In the user’s own words “This resource is intended for researchers only. I do not vouch for any sites.” In these reviews, the “User” gives short tweeter reviews on existing marketplace choice on the deep web.
According to the tweets, the ASEAN Marketplace offers vendors the option of custom shops, which can be rented out to other vendors. So far, it has on average, 4,000 listings. Also, DeepSea Market, which was launched in 2020, has rapidly grown to around 7,000 listings.
Interestingly, Torrez, which uses multi-signature wallets in place of a centralized escrow system, offers a typical trustless marketplace ecosystem peculiar to crypto payment options. For patrons in search of a trustless trade option, Multi-signature escrow alternative seems better than centralized marketplaces, and many leagues better than direct deals.
In the aftermath of this exit, some users have resolved to direct deals. In fact, 3 days after the Empire exit, one darknet patron whines on a Reddit post, about a direct deal which went bad, with the loss of all traded funds to an anonymous direct deal agent.
As the darknet marketplace lick their wounds in disbelief, vendors and patrons alike, are all on the lookout for a new safety net in the now chaotic waters of the Deep web.