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So Long and Farewell: Dream Market Says Goodbye

Cyber-criminals have long relied on the Dark Web’s largest marketplace, Dream Market, to buy and sell illicit goods, but today threat researchers at IntSights and Flashpoint found that the notorious online store is scheduled to shutdown on April 30, 2019.

On March 26, multiple threat actors posted on the DNM Avengers forum after purportedly receiving messages stating that Dream Market would shut down at the end of April, according to Evelyn French, senior analyst, Flashpoint.

“A threat actor operating under the alias nigafawefawg stated that they received the following message, allegedly on Dream Market: 'This market is shutting down on 04/30/2019 and is transferring its services to a partner company, onion address: weroidj*********.onion (currently offline, opening soon),'" French said.

“Other threat actors commenting in the same thread reported receiving similar notification messages, while some threat actors denied receiving the notifications,” French continued. Flashpoint is also monitoring similar discussions on numerous other marketplaces and forums, including Empire Market Forum, Wall Street Market Forum, Pirate Ship, and Italian Deep Web.

Whether the closure is being driven by law enforcement or fatigue on the market itself or the founders are just trying to reinvent and start fresh, “the closure of Dream Market will be a big hit to dark web economy as Dream Market holds more than 65,000 listings of digital goods, including hacked databases, hacking tutorials, hacking tools, malicious software and almost 90,000 listings of different drugs,” said Ariel Ainhoren, head of the cyber threat research team, IntSights.

“A lot of dark web users started talking about drawing their balance from the site and vendors started talking about moving their business to other known markets, such as Wall Street and Berlusconi markets, but it is too early to tell what the effect of this announcement will be.”

As the message was released to all market users it seems that the owner or owners of the forum want to cash out in an orderly fashion. Though there has been some speculation that law enforcement is a driving force in the shutdown, Ainhoren said it seems less probable that law enforcement would issue this type of announcement.

“A couple of weeks ago two very known forums named Kickass and Torum went down after a threat actor named the Thedarkoverlord (9/11 papers) posted that he can be contacted on these forums. His activity drew a lot of fire and attention from law enforcement to these forums, and they suffered repeated attacks by unknown attackers until they were taken down. It could be that the targeting of these forums rang the bell for Dream Market operators to take their gains from six years of operation and close shop,” Ainhoren said.

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