Dream Market Shutting Down

Come April 30, 2019, one of the Dark Web's top marketplaces will go dark according to a message on the site. But reasons behind the site's shuttering are the subject of speculation.

The Dark Web marketplace, which opened in 2013, has grown into one of the largest and most popular Dark Web marketplaces, with more than 150,000 listings for different - and illegal - goods and services with the majority of the listings boasting drugs for sale. 

Aside from the shutdown date, the message also shares that all services will be transferred to an partner with a different address that is set to "open soon."

The suddenness of the closure has sent many market participants into a frenzy of conspiracy theories and speculation as to why the site would close shop. 

 

 dreammarket_closing

Law Enforcement or Hackers

Confused market participants began posting many theories in forums, including Reddit. Some believed the market had been taken over by hackers and relocating. However, a likely scenario is law enforcement activity. The nature of the message combined with the suspicious method in how it was posted on Dream Market refreshed memories of previous law enforcement operations. It is possible the message posted on Dream Market's site referring to a partner opening soon could be a honeypot used by law enforcement officials. 

Past large shuttered marketplaces that immediately come to mind include Silk Road 1 & 2, AlphaBay, and Hansa.

If law enforcement activity is the reason, the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team is a high possibility. They are multiple agencies that include the FBI, DEA, HSI, CBP, USPIS, DOJ, and DOD with the support of Europol. 

Europol, FBI, and the DEA published press releases Tuesday, March 26, 2019, regarding Dark Web drug trafficking operations. The FBI also released a video containing shots of Dream Market drugs referencing Operation SaboTor. 

 

During the Hansa market takeover in early 2018, the Netherlands National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) setup a sting named Operation Bayonet. The last month of Hansa's operation was controlled by Dutch investigators who used it to gather intelligence and conduct arrests and asset seizures. 

A "site has been seized" image is what currently greets visitors Hansa and AlphaBay.

 

seized

Dark Web Markets Persist

Malicious actors will continue to play cat and mouse with law enforcement. While the announcement deals a blow to participants of Dream Market, a large number of marketplaces remain. New markets will continue to be created. Buyers of the goods and services offered adjust to evolving locations. Silk Road is a prime example, the original and 2.0 were shut down, though the third iteration persists today. 

Defending against the latest malicious activities emerging from these Dark Web markets is just one example of our phenomenal focus on security. Contact us today for a free trial of our Advanced Email Security.

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