Dark Web online marketplace, AlphaBay, shut down


Site Admin
Apr 2017
Illegal-Goods Website AlphaBay Shut Following Law-Enforcement Action
Site allegedly sold counterfeit credit cards, illegal drugs

The ‘Dark Web’ is the term used for a network of servers that use anonymity software to cloak their location.

An online marketplace that sold illegal goods on the so-called Dark Web was shut last week following action by international authorities, according to people familiar with the matter.

The closing of AlphaBay, an anonymous marketplace that listed for sale drugs, counterfeit credit cards and other illegal goods, came after coordinated action by the U.S., Canada and Thailand, the people said.

The action included the arrest of Alexandre Cazes, a Canadian citizen who allegedly was one of the site’s operators, they said. He was found hanged in his cell Wednesday in Thailand, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Caze “passed away in Thailand,” a spokeswoman for Canada’s foreign affairs department said Thursday. She declined to comment further, citing privacy reasons.

Mr. Cazes was taken into custody July 5 in Thailand “with a view toward extradition to face federal criminal charges in the United States,” according to Melissa Sweeney, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. The same day, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s high-technology crime unit executed a search warrant at a residence in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, said Camille Habel, a sergeant with the RCMP in Montreal.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Mr. Cazes had legal representation.

Following its creation in December 2014, AlphaBay emerged as an heir to the Silk Road, the online marketplace closed by federal authorities in October 2013. Both sites were accessible via Tor, a network that takes steps to preserve the anonymity of its users.

While the Silk Road’s primary focus was drug sales, AlphaBay was more diverse, selling stolen credit-card numbers, drugs, online-fraud tutorials and guns, according to Andrei Barysevich, a director at Recorded Future Inc., which sells data about online threats and the Dark Web.

In the first six months of 2017, AlphaBay sold more than $5 million in stolen credit-card numbers, Mr. Barysevich said. “AlphaBay was the biggest marketplace on the Dark Web,” he said.

Total sales on the site averaged between $600,000 and $800,000 a day, earning AlphaBay’s operators millions of dollars each year in commissions, according to Nicolas Christin, an associate research professor at Carnegie Mellon University who studies online marketplaces.

AlphaBay’s operators had millions of dollars in the digital currency bitcoin, much of it held in escrow for the site’s illicit transactions, based on two bitcoin wallets that have been linked to the website, Mr. Barysevich said. The site’s abrupt shutdown last week fueled speculation its operators had absconded with millions of dollars of the digital currency.

Source: WSJ