Speculation surfaced earlier last week that Wall Street Market has pulled off an exit scam, capitalizing on the influx of new users after its competitor, Dream, announced its closure last month.
While WSM’s homepage displays a maintenance notice, users suspect the admins have swiped $30 million in escrow-held funds.
This story is developing. Here’s what we know so far:
The unpredictability in darknet markets continues to manifest itself—the latest incident is an alleged exit scam by Wall Street Market, running into $30 million or more.
The event comes a month after the announcement that one of the dark web’s longest-serving marketplaces, Dream Market, will shut down on April 30, a move that also came as a surprise to the darknet community.
From experience, darknet markets are well known to shut down as a result of seizures by law enforcement, hacks or exit scams.
In rare circumstances, market administrators formally announce the closure of their site, and in turn, request users to withdraw their funds within a specific time.
The Situation on Wall Street
For the case of Wall Street Market, it appears as if there is much more going on behind the scenes as the community has started speculating the marketplace has pulled an exit scam since both buyers’ and sellers’ funds are locked in escrow.
The total figure is estimated at $30 million.
At press time, the site is still online but there’s no way to log in or register.
Upon accessing the marketplace, you will find a Captcha meant to prevent DDoS attacks. However, after entering the code, the message in the screenshot below is displayed.The message clearly states that the site is currently down and as a result of irregular maintenance which began on April 24 and is scheduled to end the following day, but up to now, the site is not showing any signs of allowing users to log in or registering an account.
According to Wall Street Market’s own statistics, the site has around 1.2 million customers and 5,400 vendors.
Just after the announcement that Dream Market is shutting down, WSM was among the few markets considered as the next best option by a vast majority of darknet users who flocked to create new accounts in the forum.
The result was that the marketplace started experiencing issues brought about by increased traffic, and it forced the site to acquire new infrastructure.
This statement was announced on Dread some days after Dream’s announcement by the market’s community manager (screenshot below):
Because of the influx in new registrations, there was a proportionate increase in the number of transactions in the marketplace.
The result was that the revenue generated increased tremendously, perhaps, at a rate never witnessed before because users sought to find new ways to continue the acquisition of various types of illegal goods and services.
Wall Street Market Subdread
Since Wall Street Market joined Dread, the subdread has attracted over 15,600 subscribers, and it is through this avenue some of the official communication regarding the marketplace are posted.
Apart from using Dread, WSM uses the actual site for announcements about server upgrades or withdrawals and deposits.
Claims by HugBunter
A further look at the forum reveals much more about what is happening to the marketing with some suggesting that it could perhaps be an operation involving law enforcement, which is not something new.
One such individual is HugBunter, founder and chief moderator of Dread.
In a detailed post, he explained that there is a possibility that the market has been compromised because he successfully compromised the account of the community manager and other admin panels with the hope of getting more access to the site—something which did not yield fruits since they did not have enough vulnerability.
However, and as much as he was not successful in bringing the market down, he admits that he was able to access very crucial information such as IPs.
If in the hands of law enforcement, this could lead to arrests and maybe the ultimate seizure of the market.HugBunter further says that one of the reasons that made it impossible to continue his attacks by brute-force method is the use of a Captcha.
In the same post, HugBunter gives some more disturbing information that the community manager of Wall Street Market is planning to dox users of the market who had sent messages without using their PGP, in turn raising awareness on the importance of using this encryption method.
He further urges users who come across this form of abuse to immediately report this to Dread for appropriate actions.For those who used Wall Street without precautions, HugBunter advises them to try and clear any traces of their actions, and this included ditching previously used addresses because of the possibility that law enforcement will have access to 100% of the user details.
With such information in the hands of law enforcement, anything is bound to happen.
HugBunter added that unless WSM admins destroyed their servers, then we are likely to see a seizure notice slapped onto WSM’s homepage soon.