Dream Market Now the Biggest Darknet Market after AlphaBay and Hansa Takedowns

Darknet market word in binary background
Darknet marketplaces inherit massive user base surges as pioneers AlphaBay and Hansa are laid to rest by the FBI.

Ever since two of the leading darknet marketplaces shut down, massive transitions have been taking place on the dark web.

As the demand for services and products being sold haven’t gone down, users are simply migrating to Dream Market—which happens to be the biggest darknet marketplace now.

Since late July, Dream Market and a few other counterparts have experienced a 28 percent surge in overall traffic.

Dream Market in particular now features more than 98,000 postings.

Here’s the gist of what’s been unfolding over the last few weeks.

What Exactly Happened?

Speculations were rife that the highly popular darknet market AlphaBay had been seized by law authorities when it disappeared in July, and to the disappointment of millions of dark web users, the rumors turned out to be true.

Soon after AlphaBay’s demise, Hansa, another leading marketplace, was taken down as well.

With transactions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain, life has been tough on the darknet.

With the United States Department of Justice terming this operation “one of the most important investigations of the year,” it’s safe to say that this is just the beginning.

Writing on the Wall

Ever since the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation took down Silk Road back in 2013, analysts around the globe had predicted a similar fate for the dark web’s remainder of marketplaces.

This summer, AlphaBay’s servers were confiscated in an operation led by authorities mainly in the U.S., the Netherlands, Canada, the United Kingdom and France.

Operations were also conducted in Thailand and Lithuania.

The suspected founder, Alexander Cazes, was arrested on July 5.

A week later, he was found dead in prison. Authorities state that Cazes committed suicide.

Effectively three days later, a number of Dutch authorities had complete control over Hansa.

If reports are to be believed, Hansa was secretly under the scanner for as long as a month after the initial capture.

Dream Market Emerges as New Leader

Born out of the ashes of Silk Road, like many of its other counterparts, Dream Market now features the highest number of listings—98,000 and counting.

It is also one of the oldest marketplaces on the darknet, with a loyal user base.

The fact that the website grew by 4,000 postings in just one week shows that darknet market users haven’t really stopped trading as such.

Of course, certain goods have taken a substantial hit and likely will not see the light of day until the dust settles.

Online forums had initially speculated that even Dream Market’s servers were compromised, but there seems to be no real evidence to support this.

Even though the overall consensus is to lay low, thousands of transactions are still going on at Dream Market.

The Current Scenario

tor webpage
vendors, have deserted Tor networks

Even though a swath of users, mostly vendors, have deserted Tor networks after this summer’s law enforcement takedowns, darknet marketplace sales are still going strong.

Tobacco and alcohol sales are still high, thanks to the 16 percent traffic surge that TradeRoute was blessed with.

There seems to be minimal fear despite the crackdowns, as Dream Market, TradeRoute and a number of other marketplaces have openly welcomed users who were displaced by AlphaBay’s shutdown.

This is primarily due to the fact that vendors always tend to use fake details to conduct their business, coupled with various IP proxies and VPN services.

So far, only the arms trade has taken a decent hit—a 37 percent drop off for RsClub Market was recorded.

But sales are bound to kick start again if the crackdowns come to an abrupt halt.

What Lies Ahead

A few networks report that a large chunk of usernames and passwords have been uncovered by the police and will be utilized for subsequent investigation.

The truth is, takedowns and arrests like these are inevitable in any illegal marketplace, be it online or offline.

What is interesting to note is that they hardly seem to have a decisive and fatal impact on the practice in question.

As of now, police in multiple countries seem to be in hot pursuit of several leads.

But, as to whether the trail runs cold or not, only time will tell.

Newly Launched Hacking Forum Hacked By Hackers

A hacking site, dubbed as a “Darkode wannabe,” was hacked by unidentified hackers shortly following its launch.

In what is possibly the most ironic incident so far this year, a hacking forum was hacked by other hackers shortly after its launch.

Intended to be a copycat version of Darkode, a hacking and malware marketplace that was shut down by the FBI in 2015, it did not take long before the new hacking forum was torn apart by hackers who made away with vital user login credentials and account information.

In addition to causing blushes to the administrators of the forum, this could expose the identities of hacking professionals who had already created accounts on the site.

Hackers Targeted Former Darkode Users Information

A copy of the data, provided by the breach notification site LeakBase, revealed that the hackers made away with a database full of Darkode users’ hashed passwords and usernames.

In addition to passwords and usernames, the hacking also produced email addresses and, worryingly, the IP addresses of its users.

This last bit is cause for concern for more than a few users who signed onto the hacking forum, especially if any of them have been involved in any recent criminal activity.

Understandably, most users of the hacking forum are worried about having their real locations attached to their internet identities.

Hacked Hacking Forum Logged User IP Addresses

The hackers made away with a database full of Darkode users’ hashed passwords and usernames.

A point of contention in this ironic turn of events is the fact that the forum logged user IP addresses.

This was something that one a perpetrator of the hacking, “FuckInterpol,” was quick to point out and express concern about.

As is typical of many hackers, this particular group left a strong message in which they told the users of the hacking forum that their forum had been “owned.” They were also quick to point out the lacking operational security of the forum’s administrators, particularly when it came to data security and management.

They followed up their message with the deletion of all the other threads on the forum.

Staff Member Admits He Could Have Played an Important Role in Hacking

Going by the moniker “Bullets,” the hacking forum staff member admitted that he could have unwittingly helped the hackers to get in by using a password from a site that was previously hacked.

Nevertheless, he was ready for any repercussions seeing that he used it knowing the worst case scenario could take place.

He revealed that he was only interested in seeing what went on in the hacking forums and as such, did not leave as much compromising information.

Using a common password was therefore not a move that was thought out to completion, as he did not think he would remain with the site.

Hacked Hacking Forum Had Poor Opsec

The site administrators have come under fire due to their less than acceptable opsec, which has undoubtedly put the hacking site’s users in more trouble than they had originally thought they would be in.

We can only wait and see whether the federal government will swoop in to pick up the criminals whose identities and locations have been revealed.

Dream Market Users Encountered Log-In Issues

these factors made them believe the site was encountering problems
these factors made them believe the site was encountering problems

Some Dream Market users have been encountering difficulties with logging in on the darknet market, most of the time the site returned a “connection timed out” error upon trying to sign in.

For those who were facing these problems, it was double trouble since some of the orders they had placed ended up being unfulfilled.

However, others were more optimistic by saying that those warnings about the site were not new but had rather been there for almost a month.

While Dream Market itself has been almost 100% online for the past weeks, the main login link is still problematic for some people.

Using alternative links seems to be a better option for those trying to access the site.

error-siteApart from “connection timed out” error, other people who tried logging into Dream Market got a “password login disabled” message.

To solve this problem, users were advised to open up new accounts and contact support explaining their situation on the other account.

Another possible solution was trying one of the available mirrors to log in.

In general, the dark web site had a backup plan so that when their main URL was down; the alternative link was up and running every single time.

Those who took advantage of this factor never went through any of the troubles listed above.

Until there’s a solid proof that Dream Market is planning anything fishy, people should not worry about the darknet market planning an exit scam on them.

All these complaints are just unverified comments made mostly by those with fresh accounts on the marketplace.

Otherwise, no major warning has been issued so far and users should rest easy that the dark web site will continue running for a long period of time.

Dream Market: The Most Popular Bitcoin-Powered Darknet Market

Dark web data intelligence provider Terbium Labs and blockchain analytics.
Dark web data intelligence provider Terbium Labs and blockchain analytics.

A recent partnership between information security firm Terbium Labs and a popular blockchain analytics startup known as Skry has revealed that Dream Market is now the most popular bitcoin-based darknet market.

Terbium Labs, which is also the creator of the revolutionary Matchlight data intelligence system, partnered with Skry and together, they analyzed millions of URLs to determine which among three of the biggest darknet markets at the moment is the most popular.

Dream Market came out on top as the one with the most hits when it was placed side by side with heavyweights such as the AlphaBay Market and The Majestic Garden.

Case Study to be Used as a Countermeasure

The two firms plan to use the results of the study as a countermeasure against some of the proposed bitcoin upgrades, specifically those that will improve user privacy on the blockchain.

Some of the anticipated upgrades expected from bitcoin include Voldemort’s MimbleWimble and CoinJoin, both of which promise to enhance the privacy of bitcoin users on public blockchain transactions.

The collaboration between Terbium Labs and Skry seeks to prove more than just the popularity of Dream Market.

In addition to providing useful insight to the law enforcement in the tracking of criminal activities on dark web marketplaces, the two firms will also supply this information to financial institutions and bitcoin-based companies.

They will also be monitoring the most used products on these blockchains and other bitcoin ledgers.

Matchlight Used to Scan Millions of Public Keys

Skry says they use data feeds from Terbium’s Matchlight system to monitor Bitcoin public keys.

Formerly known as Coinalytics, Skry employed the use of Terbium Labs’ Matchlight to index 3.7 million public keys that were obtained from password-protected forums, Tor hidden services, darknet markets such as Dream Market, and paste sites, among others.

Out of 11,000 URLs from the dark web, 22,000 public keys were obtained. 798 of these were unique bitcoin public keys.

The URLs were then taken through Skry’s analytic platform where they were further processed and aggregated to provide more accurate associative information.

Dream Market took the lead with 353 public keys and was followed closely by AlphaBay Market, which had 298 public keys.

The Majestic Garden, the third most popular bitcoin-powered darknet market, had 75 public keys.

Bitcoin Still On Top

Despite the notably increased efforts to keep bitcoin tracking at a manageable level for entities such as law enforcement, the digital currency still stands out as the most used type of currency on dark web platforms.

Two Department of War Studies professors from King’s College in London published a report that backed the fact bitcoin is still the preferred digital currency for conducting a variety of transactions on popular darknet markets such as AlphaBay and the Dream Market.

The report, “Cryptopolitik and the Darknet” elucidated how bitcoin formed the backbone of the dark trade since it is the only common currency used in Tor hidden service trades.

Other cryptocurrencies such as Monero have seen a notable rise in usage, especially after their integration with the AlphaBay Market. Monero’s main appeal lies in its strong privacy users, something that bitcoin cannot measure up to as it is at the moment.

Nevertheless, the introduction of coin-mixing services, the most popularly known being CleanCoin, has significantly enhanced the privacy of users wishing to keep their online activities untraceable by offering bitcoin users the opportunity to exchange the digital currency with a number of sources, making it virtually impossible to track the origin of the transaction.

Combined with the fact that bitcoin is easier to convert into multiple currencies and back, it is more likely to remain the preferred method of trade.

Dream Market Leader in Quality

The popularity of Dream Market comes as no surprise given the fact that it currently produces some of the best quality products and has the most reputable vendors on the dark web.

Other than the fact that tightly-run ship also includes a 4% commission on every sale, there is little else that the site can be faulted for.

Looks Like Dream Market Is Having More Technical Issues

errors in making a purchase

Some Dream Market users are complaining that they’ve been getting error messages when trying to make purchases or withdrawals on the darknet market.

One user even tried logging in multiple times using a new ID on Tor, but it still didn’t work.

However, another user said he was not been asked for his Dream Market passwords since when the problem seemed to have started. He actually got order completed successfully.

Since the package was delivered without a problem, the user argues that it’s probably just a small technical hitch that will pass away.

For those with problems on their accounts, Dream Market has been asking for security passwords in order to place orders, despite them not setting up this option on their settings.

That was not the situation a few weeks back when they were placing orders on the darknet market, but notwithstanding these concerns, there has been no response from the support team and people are starting to get worried that it could be an exit scam in the making.

dream-errorHowever, others said that when they signed up some six months ago, the marketplace was requesting for security passwords in order to complete orders and send coinage.

Fast forward to today, some users can’t log in using their passwords.

Whenever they try to access their accounts, the site says that they have entered the wrong password, even though they have never changed their passwords before.

Some people are also saying that admin has been banning accounts and taking away people’s bitcoin for the past few months.

Most Dream Market users are watchful following these developments, and also the fact that admin has not been keen on providing a response despite accusations touching on the site itself.

This lack of interest may be an indication that they are involved in the technicalities, but until an official statement is provided everything now just remains speculation.

Will Dream Market Add Monero To Its Payment Options?

DreamMarket planning Accepting Monero for Payments.

There have been rumors going around on the internet that Dream Market is planning to introduce Monero on their site, but the marketplace has come out clearly to refute this claim.

Instead, maintaining that they are not in the process of doing this anytime soon despite other darknet markets already using the new cryptocurrency.

Some Dream Market vendors were optimistic with the idea of adding Monero/XMR to the available payment options, saying that they were fed up with the transaction times of Bitcoin.

The Dream Market admin responded to these statements by posting a message on Reddit, reading “Not planned to be implemented in the near future.”

Monero uses a special cryptographic sound system which allows you to release and receive funds without your transactions being revealed on the blockchain; this ensures that all your purchases, receipts and transfers, remain private by default.

Monero is a secure, private, untraceable currency that is open-source and freely available to all.

Additionally, all transactions are made untraceable by implementing ring signatures that ensure online exchanges are not just private, but also have an optional trait of ambiguity.

This ensures transactions cannot be traced back to a single computer or user.

Most vendors were not impressed by DM’s decision to omit Monero, one, in particular, said that he was considering selling items on Dream Market but also thinking about accepting only XMR payments in the future.

Those in favor of the new cryptocurrency say that it’s often under-appreciated compared to other virtual currencies such as Bitcoin.

They claim external forces have been trying to censor, inhibit and scuttle the Monero project for the last two years it’s been in existence.

According to them, one of the key instruments they use is attacking the XMR online community, seemingly because all other attempts towards achieving this goal have not been successful.

Despite Dream Market refusing to use Monero, the fans are still adamant that it will be accepted as a standard cryptocurrency in the future.

Withdrawal Issues On Dream Market

Dream Market has issue with its escrow account.

It’s emerging that Dream Market has problems with its escrow account that’s denying some people access to their money.

One user tried making a transaction but got a message reading “this vendor isn’t allowed to finalize early.”

But he’s not alone in this case since many other vendors have also complained on Reddit about the same thing. Even support is not offering a solution on this matter.

Additionally, there are those saying that the escrow issue isn’t new but rather started about a month ago.

They believe this problem isn’t about finalizing early as some people think, customers have been trying to release funds in time from their escrow accounts and Dream Market is still not allowing them.

Following these developments, admin has reiterated by claiming that they have a limit on the amount of funds which can be released to them.

Given the delayed response from Dream Market, some people are already raising eyebrows as to the marketplace’s real intentions.

There are those who said he hadn’t sold products worth more than $2K in a week, but still not able to withdraw from the site.

They claim Dream Market might be scammers, and people should watch out lest they lose their funds with them.

One user tried disputing an order so as to get back his coins; however, there was no dispute button available and the order ended up being auto finalized in just 14 days.

He finished by writing on Reddit that he didn’t really understand what was going on.

Other users urged them not to generalize the situation by claiming that Dream Market is trying an exit scam.

Some dealers have warned others to practice extra caution when doing business on Dream Market, for the time being things seem quite hazy and not suitable for free trade. Word is going around that the marketplace is actually planning an exit scam.

To make matters more puzzling, they told some account holders that even after authorizing their FE rights all transactions above 0.6 BTC were going to be approved first by admin.

These users think it’s rather unreasonable to get the support team involved in all private deals made over 0.6 BTC, which translates to about $300.

Nevertheless, this issue isn’t a first for the marketplace since several months ago other Reddit users raised the same problem.

These disgruntled users are urging people to remove funds from their accounts, claiming the faster it’s done the better for safety purposes.

This escrow problem is affecting both small and big vendors in equal measure; even those with an overall rating of 4.95/5 have been affected. It goes to counter the belief that only low-rated accounts are being victimized, something that’s absolutely not true.

Even those who do clean business on the marketplace have complained that their escrow accounts are not working; it’s not just those selling drugs or other illegal items that have raised concern.

As matters are appearing, some users said that Dream Market is supposedly delaying release of escrow coins to traders so as to increase their overall coin sum and pull an exit exam on unsuspecting victims.

Only time will tell what happens. I personally don’t think they will exit scam yet as they are not really big enough to walk away with enough BTC to make it worth their while.

Dream Market: No Sign of Doing Malicious

Dream Market recently experienced downtime that led some people to think they were pulling out an exit scam.

Dream Market recently experienced downtime that led some people to think they were pulling out an exit scam, but as it later turned out this was not the case.

Initially, users were complaining that they couldn’t connect to any link on the darknet market.

Others also raised concern that placing orders had become a problem, and this affected trading for many individuals.

They said Dream Market has been their favorite marketplace for years, thus hoping that recent inconveniences were just for maintenance purposes.

Despite the concerns, some individuals were more optimistic claiming most marketplaces go down occasionally.

However, Dream Market hasn’t shown any real signs of doing anything malicious against its users. The fact that they had requested people to change password information was not sufficient reason for concern.

However, others commented that even after using this darknet market for more than six months, the pass and pin security prompt had never happened before.

Not all users were perturbed by the marketplace’s decision to change passwords.

DM’s security updates things were looking quite bleak for them.

There are a couple of people who actually commended them for taking this step, admitting that they had forgotten their original withdrawal pins and if it were not for DM’s security updates things were looking quite bleak for them.

The users reiterated by saying unless a solid reason is given confirming the market’s malicious behavior, they would continue trading on it since as far as they were concerned there’s nothing to worry about.

Nevertheless, there were still those who were a bit skeptical openly stating that they couldn’t sleep unless they knew what was going on.

One account holder reportedly contacted support earlier on for explanation when the market and forum were down; he asked why their forum was still down to which the response was “an admin decision.”

When the individual sought more elaboration on the matter, the admin is quoted as saying they wouldn’t tell him.

Other users on Dream Market expressed concern that the site hasn’t been very reliable of late.

First, they were prompted to change their withdrawal pins, then came a period of downtime followed by the forum itself going offline, then at the last hour the marketplace went down as well.

All these factors made them believe the site was encountering problems, and probably planning an exit scam on the users.

Despite the concerns, Dream Market came back up once more albeit with new changes to its transactions protocol.

A new way of withdrawing funds has been introduced on Dream, whereby a bitcoin mixer shall supply you with fresh BTC at a minimal rate of 2.5%.

This way user’s security is guaranteed when making transactions online since there would be no traces left behind.

As it turns out, there’s absolutely no need to worry since the downtime was caused by necessary updates and maintenance that were to be done.

The forum has also bounced back allowing users to chat freely with others concerning various factors that affect the site.

Is Dream Market Going Exit Scam?

login scamThere are reports by users that Dream Market is probably pulling an exit scam, some have complained that they are facing difficulties with login in, despite other similar marketplaces on the Tor network working quite well.

A trader raised concern that Dream Market suddenly disabled their 2FA login details in spite of selling more than 250 products, with an overall star rating of 5.

They cannot access the account anymore, and have loads of fresh orders to handle including those that had already been accepted before and only awaiting shipment.

However, what worries the dealer, even more, is that they wrote four contact forms to Dream Market but got absolutely no response from them.

The trader and his team went further to seek for help from DM’s forum page but still got nothing.

Things got worse from there after the admin unexpectedly removed their forum account, probably because they were asking too many questions about the market’s activities.

This vendor didn’t give up despite all the setbacks; he logged back in using different buyer accounts and to his surprise, the original vendor account was still functional.

These outcomes have made the traders believe that Dream Market is trying to scam them, plus very soon the site may pull an exit scam on users.

Another account holder reiterated that he had been trying to get back online for a while, but Dream Market was not operational during that entire time.

Earlier on, clicking on messages or marketplace posts also proved futile since this took him to a blank page, where he was left with no other option but restarting the Tor browser again, hence, leading him to the same errors once more.

Initially, he thought this problem was only tied to Tor, but as it turns out, that is not the case since other darknet marketplaces have not been affected at all.

Scam onlineNevertheless, other users urged them not to generalize the situation by claiming that Dream Market is trying an exit scam.

Instead, saying they need to get the facts right before making such statements.

A user has asked for proof and requested for pictures of messages from admin saying that they were not going to let him in.

Otherwise, everything else can only be regarded as hearsay.

Given these facts, it’s probable that the complainant’s account got hacked by somebody else, likely an individual working closely with them.

In his defense, the victim said that even after signing to prove who they really were as traders, things still did not work out.

He confirmed they only use 2FA logins on Tor marketplaces and are not used to giving “plausible excuses,” such as the online account had been taken over by somebody they work with, or other similar incidents.

The trader claims the only reason they raised alarm over this occurrence is so that their customers can know what’s going on, and reach out to them for further direction.

User Back, Denying Allegations That He Is A Scammer

reddit_log-100011890-large-6-300x201A dark web vendor on Dream Market has reappeared again after a short break and assured his customers that all is well; the seller apologized on Reddit for not being around and not communicating to those affected by his temporary absence. He admitted that all negative reviews posted recently by displeased buyers were completely justified; further mentioning they will receive a full refund for items bought while the dealer was away. Otherwise, they may get an extra amount in shipment if possible. This regardless of whether they decide to alter the negative comments or not.

He said that his absence was not intentional but rather due to unavoidable circumstances. Complications from an existing medical condition flared up prompting him to spend some considerable amount of time in the hospital. But even in poor health, the vendor had been thinking about his Dream Market customers whose orders were yet to be fulfilled. This condition might have resurfaced because of sheer carelessness and a previous accident.

After he had been released, he said he had gained full mental clarity to update everyone on business matters. While he expresses concern for not updating sooner, the dark web vendor stated that he doesn’t trust anyone with his Dream Market account and hence the wait. He hopes clients would be more understanding of the struggles and give him time to get his act back together. The vendor said he doesn’t always break promises and when an order is placed everything will be done to ensure clients’ needs are fulfilled. Further, describing himself as a firm believer of honest business practices, also that customers should be rest assured he’s on Dream Market to stay.

2272638a5f677ae744a7639d67dd2887 (2)Nevertheless, there are some people who’ve continued showing him continuous support despite the temporary absence, for such he’s grateful, including all those other loyal and courteous customers who understand his predicament. He said they are the reason why he will always try his best to continue trading on Dream Market for as long as possible. This appreciation extends to all future customers who may be interested in buying from him as well. Despite the comeback, he mentioned that he still needs to recover fully, though priority now is on those who didn’t receive their packages. They will be attended to immediately, plus listings and shop will also open soon, so customers don’t need to worry about placing orders.

Some people weren’t satisfied by his explanation, rather terming him a bad dealer by not having another trusted party handle his Dream Market dealings while away. Furthermore, though the trader admits that all negative reviews are welcome, he still hasn’t given steps on how such a situation can be averted again in the future. Incentives such as free handouts can help a lot in calming nerves, particularly for those who may feel aggrieved by the trader disappearing with their money. They say he needs to change his methods so that customers don’t feel screwed in the short term.