- Darknet’s largest market announces intentions to retire forever from Feb 15, 2021.
- Joker’s stash grossed over $1 billion during its tenure.
- The COVID-19 pandemic and pressure from law enforcement agencies are seen as major reasons for this closure.
The world’s biggest Darknet Market (DNM) bids a tearful adieu to all its loyal customers. From a small, insignificant portion of the Darknet, Joker’s Stash rose to great prominence over the years. It became the world’s most coveted and infamous place for buying or selling stolen identities and data, grossing over $1 billion throughout its 6-year run.
Motive behind the move
Early reports suggested that the administrator had contracted the COVID-19 virus following which the admin was hospitalized for a week. During this period, several visitors on the site had raised complaints about the quality of transactions on the carding forum being increasingly poor. To make matters worse, the marketplace’s proxy server connections dealing with blockchain-based domains had been confiscated by INTERPOL and other law enforcement agencies. This compounded problems for the popular DNM, eventually leading to its complete shutdown.
Cryptic message to announce service termination
The news involving winding up of operations was first seen on a post in a Russian cybercrime forum, in the middle of January. Joker’s Stash describes this move as well-deserved. It also promised to keep the site up and running for a period of 30 days to enable all customers to spend their crypto account balances. After the grace period, Joker’s Stash would terminate all its services and erase all servers including backups. The site’s shareholders, according to the post, would be paid in full before the DNM’s closure. Towards the end the post became increasingly philosophical, reminding new age cyber-gangsters to be mindful of the fact that money cannot make a person happy and the most treasured things in the world are always free.
The DNM made it remarkably clear that it was going away for good and customers should be wary of any impostors claiming its position in the future. A few loyal people saw a glimmer of hope when the Darknet website set up new web infrastructure to continue operations even after the US DoJ seized its servers. However, the recent retirement announcement put an end to all hopes. Over the years, the hoard traded on the marketplace included confidential customer data from several data-breaches of companies including Lord and Taylor, Hilton Hotels and Whole Foods.
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