Darknet Market Empire Exit scammed, leaving thousands of vendors and customers at a loss.

Balakin Buterin
Sep 24, 2018 · 3 min read

The rumor is rife that one of the most popular dark web marketplaces, Empire, has exit scammed on its vendor and buyer base.

The site’s users, especially those who left Bitcoin funds in their accounts, are left in the lurch.

An exit scam occurs when a site administrator spontaneously shutsdown the website or marketplace and, in almost every case, they would take any money that is left in the digital wallet and transfer it to their own account.

Such scams occur all the time but that doesn’t stop users from relying on dark web markets to purchase illegal goods with Bitcoins.

Posts on Empire’s dedicated subreddit indicate that the market had recently started becoming associated with a famous phisher known by the name Phishkingz. Empire admin had reportedly arranged a deal in regular payments to Phishkingz.

On Reddit, users expressed anger and frustration with the market’s supposed involvement with Phishkingz. They opined that the new association might mean Empire was not longer safe to work with.

Following this, Phishkingz posted that he managed to access the admin panel of the marketplace and within days, the website was completely shutdown. This left thousands of users in the dark about what happened.

Another piece of evidence claims that the admin of the Empire marketplace has done an exit scam based on public transaction records.

Phishkingz, who claimed to have managed to access the admin panel of the website before it was taken down, has identified a particular wallet account which has received thousands of Bitcoins worth millions of dollars, within a very short period of time.

Much to the relief of the majority of users who have had a hand in the dark web marketplace, Phishkingz (now under the handle mandemsweet) has not revealed any other personal information he may have found on the back end of the site.

He supposedly works for a phishing platform which earlier associated itself with TradeRoute, and has been actively trying to find proof for whether they have made a huge exit scam with Bitcoins valued up to $9 million.

On further investigation, they managed to uncover the fact that for a particular wallet account, large amounts of Bitcoins were being transferred in the recent past before it was fully shut down.

Just days before the site went offline, about 1,760 BTC were transferred. That figure was valued at $11 million.

What’s more, throughout the existence of the Empire marketplace, a massive number of 80,623 BTC were transferred to the same wallet address. In current rates, the sum is valued at a whopping $500 million making it one of the biggest scams in recent history, if confirmed.

While a subset of members believe that Phishkingz is the phisher who shutdown this huge marketplace, others believe that it is a temporary issue and will eventually be sorted out.

As the value of Bitcoin increases and the anonymity of cryptocurrency continues, more websites are being shut down — whether by remote hackers or exit scams orchestrated by the market’s admins.

Further details are awaited regarding why Empire suddenly went off the radar without any notice.

All indications point to the possibility that the site was left unsecure for some time, leaving a back door for anyone to slip in and make off with users’ funds.

Some Reddit users are trying to find evidence to confirm the scam, while most have already come to the most-feared conclusion. But presently, the facts remain that a huge sum of money has been transferred to the same wallet address over multiple transactions.

Balakin Buterin

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