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Bitcoin Crime The Internet

Evolution Market's Admins Are Gone, Along With $12M In Bitcoin 254

tsu doh nimh writes: The Evolution Market, an online black market that sells everything contraband — from marijuana, heroin and ecstasy to stolen identities and malicious hacking services — appears to have vanished in the last 24 hours with little warning. Much to the chagrin of countless merchants hawking their wares in the underground market, the curators of the project have reportedly absconded with the community's bitcoins — a stash that some Evolution merchants reckon is worth more than USD $12 million.
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Evolution Market's Admins Are Gone, Along With $12M In Bitcoin

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:21AM (#49282993)

    Don't worry, the invisible hand will soon make an invisible punishment for those responsible.

    • But if there is enough angel dust in the said contraband they might not feel it...
      • I saw a news blurb about the site just last night on (if I remember right) RT News (http://rt.com/ [rt.com] ), with one of the reporters showing how easy it was to buy stolen web banking login credentials... Could it be that the media exposure spooked the site owners?

        • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @04:47PM (#49286881)

          It may be that they determined that they were too high profile now and they dropped everything and ran.

          It's about the smartest thing they could do under the circumstances, given that at a certain point, enough heat would be on them that they'd get caught. If I were them, as soon as Silk Road went tits up, I'd have started planning my departure from the market. Becoming the heir apparent to Silk Road also means they become the next target too.

          It is quite likely their hope now is that it all cools off and they get away with what they've taken in. As soon as someone bigger appears, the law is going to start looking for today's bigger name.

          Of course... the "vendors" on Evolution are not exactly nice people. They're hackers and drug and arms dealers. The late proprietors of this service had better hope that the vendors aren't aware of who they are, or they're going to end up with a pair of cement shoes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The solution to an escrow company absconding with the money in escrow is a tertiary risk market of insured backers.

      I support appropriate regulation as much as you do, but I have to point out that if the government wasn't fighting the drug trade they would be free to openly sell the risk. In this case blaming the free market is inappropriate.
      • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @11:09AM (#49283333)
        If the government was not fighting drugs, sites like this would probably just change which black market commodities they were involved with. That is not to say I agree with prohibition, but I think in this case it would not matter one way or the other since it was the profit motive of illegal trades that drew people in.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Whorhay ( 1319089 )

          That is correct to an extent. There has always been organized crime. But during times of prohibition their ability to make money has drastically increased because the law has created a situation ripe for their exploitation with a huge market. Drugs is the current profit center for most of the worlds organized criminal organizations. Yes, if we legalized drugs they would continue to exist, but they would lose their primary funding stream. With less funding comes less influence and we'd see a reduction in the

          • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @12:19PM (#49284065) Journal

            You missed his point. His point was that something will always be prohibited and they'll just move into selling that instead. It doesn't have to be drugs. Explosives and other forms of weaponry come to mind as items that are either outright banned or at least highly regulated in most of the World. Are you going to legalize and deregulate them too? Laissez faire for C-4? It would make the Fourth of July a lot more enjoyable but other than that I'm not certain it's a good idea.

            • by rjhubs ( 929158 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @12:31PM (#49284163)
              The demand for illegal weaponry is not as great as the demand for controlled substances. Yes, there is no doubt criminal organizations would move to other pursuits, but they would be less profitable pursuits. Also, lets acknowledge the demand for illegal weaponry is already being met by criminal organizations. If you dropped the regulations on controlled substances, some of the existing organizations would try and become legit (we saw this during prohibition). Others would be forced into an already crowded market for dealing controlled arms.
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Laissez faire for C-4? It would make the Fourth of July a lot more enjoyable but other than that I'm not certain it's a good idea.

              According to my late father, miners in the small town where he was born would steal a little dynamite for the 4th. This was in the 1920s. I'm sure the occasional limb was lost; but then mining was not particularly safe either. Of course those were "simpler times".

            • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @01:49PM (#49285085)

              You missed his point. His point was that something will always be prohibited and they'll just move into selling that instead. It doesn't have to be drugs.

              For this high of a profit potential, yes, it pretty much does have to be drugs.

              There just isn't that much domestic demand for online sale of things like explosives and firearms. Dealers of any quantity would likely sell them overseas. Hell, as far as I know the biggest illegal domestic gun dealer in the U.S in recent decades was the Federal government itself in that outrageous Fast and Furious screwup. For which nobody has gone to jail, as I recall. Why is Eric Holder still walking around outside of jail?

              Likewise for other products. What else are you going to sell? Poison? Brass knuckles? Those are already available (in most states, AFAIK) in legitimate retail outlets.

              Lots of illegal things can be sold. But high demand + high prices? Drugs are pretty much it domestically.

          • But during times of prohibition their ability to make money has drastically increased because the law has created a situation ripe for their exploitation with a huge market. Drugs is the current profit center for most of the worlds organized criminal organizations. Yes, if we legalized drugs they would continue to exist, but they would lose their primary funding stream. With less funding comes less influence and we'd see a reduction in their ability to continue operations.

            That's only one side of the equation. Law enforcement and the legal system also benefit during prohibition (on average), due to the higher number of cases, asset forfeiture, police budgets, the prison "industry", etc.

            So both sides like prohibition. It makes them lots of money. The damage to society, on the other hand, is palpable, on both "sides". Criminals shooting each other in the streets, overzealous police departments, etc.

        • by nobuddy ( 952985 )

          In order for a black market to exist you have to have prohibition. If all prohibition is removed, then no black market exists.
          Of course, that cannot happen. Some things need to be prohibited.

      • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @11:18AM (#49283409)

        I have to point out that if the government wasn't fighting the drug trade they would be free to openly sell the risk.

        If the government wasn't fighting some drugs the users would simply buy them from their local booze store with little if any risk to anyone.

        • If the government wasn't fighting some drugs the users would simply buy them from their local booze store with little if any risk to anyone.

          I'm pretty sure meth and heroin are still going to pose serious risks to their users whether they're legal or not. Legalizing alcohol certainly didn't remove *its* risk.

      • To be honest, drugs aren't the only items they sold... a segment on one of the sat news stations last night showed the site selling pilfered bank logins, credit card details, and in essence, selling stuff that no government would condone, no matter how hands-off that government would be.

        Sibling is right - if drugs were legal, the site would simply sell other illegal stuff.

        That said, your point still stands... it's not exactly a free and open market in there.

        • by tmosley ( 996283 )
          That is true, but the market would be so much smaller it would be much more difficult to operate at a profit.

          Also, prohibition laws and similar idiocy/corruption breed contempt for legitimate law.
        • True, but drugs are often the cash-cow that motivates the creation of the infrastructure. What percentage of profits are drug-related? Eliminate those, and what percentage of markets would simply close down as the profits were insufficient to justify the risk?

          Much like the physical transportation angle: human and weapon trafficking largely make use of the transportation networks created for the much more profitable drug trade - eliminate the black-market drug trade, and the illegal transportation infras

      • by taustin ( 171655 )

        So you're suggesting the government should legalize identity theft and the selling of other people's bank login information?

    • This is good news for Bitcoin!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MightyYar ( 622222 )

      How is a black market a "free market"? How can you have any more government "regulation" beyond completely forbidden?

      • How is a black market a "free market"? How can you have any more government "regulation" beyond completely forbidden?

        I don't know, but once they figure it out it will be first applied to sending a song to a friend. Which, unlike sending crack cocaine to any buyer, is a serious crime.

      • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:55AM (#49283243) Homepage Journal

        it's free as in you have no rules.

        it's non-free as in you have no freedom to publish your identity nor does the other party publish his, so no trust relations can be created based on long term reputation.

        and well, free market will sort itself out, they figured out that running with the money was better business. maybe it was, maybe not, just another company strategy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        Black markets are often considered models of completely free markets because the government regulation is so uniform. "Completely forbidden" means that, so long as you can manage to actually exist, the market mechanics are completely free. No external barriers to competition and whatever tactics work: theft, intimidation, violence, offering a better product.

        • by GLMDesigns ( 2044134 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @01:35PM (#49284929)
          NOBODY that's a proponent of free markets considers Black Markets to be models. Find where Menger or von Mises, or Hayek or Rothbard or Rand considered the black market to be something to emulate - a model, so to speak, of Free Markets.
        • often considered

          By who? This is exactly the mentality expressed by the top level poster, and exactly what I was disputing in the first place. How anyone could argue that a black market represents a free market is beyond me. The primary constraint of being undetectable just blows away many tenets of an ideal free market right off the bat.

    • Yes. The free market does sort it out. A fool and his money are soon parted.
  • Ahhh (Score:3, Funny)

    by 3.5 stripes ( 578410 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:22AM (#49283003)

    I do enjoy the feeling of schadenfreude sometimes.

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:23AM (#49283011)

    I think I'm going to have a heart attack and DIE from that surprise.

  • by H0p313ss ( 811249 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:23AM (#49283013)

    I'm shocked!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:24AM (#49283019)

    ... there is no honor among thieves.

    • But are there no thieves among honor?
    • ... there is no honor among thieves.

      When oh when are we going to have an ETHICAL and MORAL bitcoin black market service?

      Come on! It's like it's just a bunch of criminals doing this stuff.

      Wait...

      • I wonder how many millions in cash is stolen every day in similar schemes.
        • I wonder how many millions in cash is stolen every day in similar schemes.

          Well, watching drugs inc episodes apparently ripping people off is a viable business model in the drug industry.

          You got the distributors and dealers of good dope, dealers of crappy dope, then the dealers that sell fake dope, the dealers who steal dope from other dealers to sell, and the gangs who just rob dealer stash houses for the cash and whatever dope is on hand.

          So, an online 'marketplace' specializing in illegal black market goods is no different than maneuvering in the real world black market, it isn'

  • Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:25AM (#49283029)

    People dealing in illegal goods on a site that specialized in black market goods were trusting a 3rd party to hang on to all of their money?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I doubt _all their money_. I think the site collects transactions and holds on to them for escrow until both parties are satisfied. So probably whatever the total current amount in escrow was what was taken.

    • This is more about what happens when the people selling the illegal goods are no longer the mafia or cartel and instead is Walter White from season 1. In the good old days anyone who stole their money, real or virtual, would end up with a Columbian Necktie. That tends to keep the money handlers honest.
  • How do we know how many bitcoins are lost exactly?
    • reckon is worth more than USD $12 million.

      That doesn't sound like them claiming they know exactly how many bitcoins were lost to me.

  • by Marginal Coward ( 3557951 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:26AM (#49283037)

    The people who run a black market are dishonest? I'm shocked, shocked!

  • by bulled ( 956533 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:30AM (#49283077)
    You get up with fleas
  • by St.Creed ( 853824 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:30AM (#49283081)

    ... I'm off to set up a new marketplace on Tor. Apparently, criminals are really gullible AND use untraceable money! What a great combination :)

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:38AM (#49283127)

    Look at it from the point of view of the people running these markets. They have a finite amount of time before the FBI or the NSA crack them like pistachios. The longer they operate the more people will learn who they are. So unless the illegal market is so insanely profitable for them that they can buy sanctuary someplace where the long arm of the law wont reach, betraying the people using the market is just optimal strategy.

    • It could well have been the FBI or NSA running the black market. Nice little money maker and fines handed out to criminals as a salutory lesson.

  • re: black market (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shentino ( 1139071 ) <shentino@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:44AM (#49283167)

    "an online black market that sells everything contraband — from marijuana, heroin and ecstasy to stolen identities and malicious hacking services"

    And people are actually surprised that they poofed with 12 million in bitcoins? Seriously?

    • Only surprise for me was that it was *only* $12 million.
    • And people are actually surprised that they poofed with 12 million in bitcoins? Seriously?

      Actually, I'm not sensing much surprise at all around this story. I suppose the only thing that might be surprising is that they actually had that many BTC collected at once to take. I guess they could silently disable transferring BTC out of the service for a few days until they decided to pull the plug, I guess that would help build up the coffers for the big jump (if people assume the site is still working fine and keep transferring to it). I can't imagine that anyone who knows what they're doing woul

  • Acceptable risk (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @11:04AM (#49283299)

    None of the people who actually use the black markets are surprised. It's a gamble; 9/10 times I get military grade shit, 1/10 i lose money. To me it's acceptable. Nobody points a gun at my head on the Internets, only a bunch of dickheads at Slashdot that think we are all gullible. Clueless...

    • None of the people who actually use the black markets are surprised. It's a gamble; 9/10 times I get military grade shit, 1/10 i lose money. To me it's acceptable. Nobody points a gun at my head on the Internets, only a bunch of dickheads at Slashdot that think we are all gullible.

      You're claiming that people who use black market's are not gullible on a thread about the news that people who use black market's just got ripped off to the tune of an (alleged) $12 million US? Curious logic you have there...

      • by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @11:49AM (#49283735)

        Users are not gullible if they realize there is a risk of losing their money, and assess that their profit is worth this risk, as AC explained above.

        Trade illegal black market items with cash transactions out of a trunk is also risky, and doing it with paypal or credit card can be traced by the authorities. Using bitcoin may still be the most prudent choice, even if it means that there's a chance you'll lose some of your money.

        • Users are not gullible if they realize there is a risk of losing their money, and assess that their profit is worth this risk, as AC explained above.

          You are seriously going to claim that these guys basically handed an unknown third party what amounted to a pile of untraceable cash trusting that they wouldn't run off with it and that they knew the risk they were taking? They would have to be the dumbest crooks on the planet to do that and you're claiming that they understood what they were doing? Yeah, not buying that argument. This was smart crooks ripping off dumb crooks.

          Using bitcoin may still be the most prudent choice, even if it means that there's a chance you'll lose some of your money.

          Oh I don't doubt that bitcoin could have some protective value but I very muc

          • by itzly ( 3699663 )

            You are seriously going to claim that these guys basically handed an unknown third party what amounted to a pile of untraceable cash trusting that they wouldn't run off with it and that they knew the risk they were taking?

            Most people would understand there would be a risk that they would be ripped off during such a transaction. Yes. But there's a big market for illegal goods, and other ways of trading have risks too. Some of them a bit more up close and personal than losing a handful of money.

      • Luckily there's no need to use a sketchy web site in order to learn about apostrophes. Go ahead, give it a try.
  • I am Jack's complete and total lack of surprise...
  • The incentive to steal increases.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @03:59PM (#49286449)

    I seriously don't grasp why anyone would store coins with anyone. I can personally hold billions of dollars worth of coins a cheap flash drive. So... why?

    The whole point of bitcoins was that you don't need a trusted third party.

    So why are you trusting a third party?

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