AlphaBay, an online marketplace that sold illegal products on the Dark Web, has been taken offline following raids in three countries, according to several reports.
Raids took place across the US, Canada, and Thailand, on July 5, the same day AlphaBay mysteriously went down.
Authorities have declined to comment on the issue, but the Wall Street Journal claims an inside source confirmed that AlphaBay went down following law enforcement intervention.
First to report on the raids was Canadian media [1, 2], who confirmed with Royal Canadian Mounted Police that two raids took place at residences in the city of Trois-Rivières, and another raid at a business address in Montreal. No arrests were made, but equipment was seized.
The last raid took place in Thailand, where a Canadian national named Alexander Cazes, 26, was arrested at private residences in Bangkok. Police seized three houses and four Lamborghini cars, all valued at around 400 million baht ($11.8 million).
Local authorities had apprehended Cazes based on an international arrest warrant issued by the US for drug trafficking charges. US officials requested his extradition.
It is unclear if Cazes was an AlphaBay staff member or a vendor on the site. Unconfirmed rumors started on Reddit and smaller blogs claimed that Cazes was the AlphaBay admin known as DeSnake.
Reddit is trying to unverifiably claim that he is DeSnake. No evidence that he wasn't just a DNM vendor. https://t.co/xPOLkBy0Tm— C (@5auth) July 13, 2017
The AlphaBay market launched in December 2014, and it immediately got a surge of new registrations after another Dark Web market called Evolution pulled an exit scam in March 2015. Users flocked to AlphaBay and other markets at the time, giving the site a huge boost right from the get-go.
By October 2015, AlphaBay had over 200,000 users, and the market continued to grow at a steady pace, receiving a new influx of users after fellow TheRealDeal market mysteriously vanished in the summer of 2016. At the time of its demise, the AlphaBay market had over 400,000 users.
In the meantime, former AlphaBay vendors and users have started flocking to other Dark Web markets. According to DeepDotWeb, a site that monitors the Dark Web, the top three most popular Dark Web markets after AlphaBay's demise are RAMP (Russian-speaking), Dream Market, and Hansa Market.
Hansa has set a temporary stop on new registrations until further notice as influx of AB refugee-vendors created tech problems.— Dissent Doe (@PogoWasRight) July 9, 2017
For a long period of time, most AlphaBay users speculated that the market's admins pulled off an "exit scam," a term used to describe when a Dark Web market shuts down and the owners steal all the cryptocurrency from escrow wallets.