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Crime The Internet Bitcoin

Popular Dark Web Market Disappears, Users Migrate In Panic (vice.com) 217

An anonymous reader cites an article on Motherboard: Like the changing of the seasons, a natural stage in the dark web marketplace life cycle has once again manifested. Nucleus market, which primarily sold illegal drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and cannabis, has disappeared: The site is unresponsive, and the market administrators have not made any announcements about planned downtime. This has forced vendors to migrate to other sites and panicked users to figure out where to go next, all amidst a whirlwind of rumours and speculation of where Nucleus -- and its cash -- has gone. 'Nucleus is an awesome market. One of the best. Hope all the admins are ok and nothing serious happened,' someone identifying themselves as a vendor wrote in a comment on the news site Deep Dot Web. At the moment, it's not totally clear why Nucleus' website is unresponsive. It could be an exit scam -- a scam where site administrators stop allowing users to withdraw their funds and then disappear with the stockpile of bitcoins.
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Popular Dark Web Market Disappears, Users Migrate In Panic

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  • Well... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kierthos ( 225954 )

    And nothing of value was lost.

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      If you are a client at a dark net site then you don't know who you are dealing with and you have to accept some risks.

      So there's no point in complaining.

    • Not necessarily... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Pollux ( 102520 ) <speterNO@SPAMtedata.net.eg> on Tuesday April 19, 2016 @12:18PM (#51941509) Journal

      Coincidentally, I just came across this Ted talk [youtube.com] from Alex Winter the other day. It was most excellent. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) He made a very compelling argument for the value of privacy in the marketplace, why Dark Web vendors such as Silk Road (which he made a documentary on [deepwebthemovie.com]) and others are battling to protect it, and why privacy needs to be protected.

      Are you happy right now with private businesses, credit bureaus, banks, and the government all logging, monitoring, and referencing your entire financial history? Would you like it any more if any of these institutions were hacked, and all your data was made public? If you aren't, then you should be mourning the loss of a private marketplace.

      • by Megol ( 3135005 )

        Coincidentally, I just came across this Ted talk [youtube.com] from Alex Winter the other day. It was most excellent. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) He made a very compelling argument for the value of privacy in the marketplace, why Dark Web vendors such as Silk Road (which he made a documentary on [deepwebthemovie.com]) and others are battling to protect it, and why privacy needs to be protected.

        Right. The idea behind such sites are to make money by doing things that are illegal.

        Are you happy right now with private businesses, credit bureaus, banks, and the government all logging, monitoring, and referencing your entire financial history? Would you like it any more if any of these institutions were hacked, and all your data was made public? If you aren't, then you should be mourning the loss of a private marketplace.

        First: you are using a very specific meaning to the phrase "private marketplace", something that actually never existed except as a rendezvous between two (pseduo-)anonymous parties trading non-traceable goods. Even that case isn't private as the people involved can be traced and identified.

        In reality what one can have is transactions that are reasonably private, limiting information sharing on a need-to-know basis.

  • Why deposit? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 19, 2016 @11:08AM (#51940823)

    I need some technical background here. You hear about exit scams a lot - my question is, why do users deposit funds into an account controlled by the market? Outside of escrow, Bitcoin seems to remove the need to have anyone but you hold your money. And I'd imagine that escrow is very short-term and for relatively small amounts. So what is the technical reason that people hand their money over to a market?

    • because it's an illegal market dealing with illicit substances. This is how they operate, you don't just show up and get trusted, you have to be vetted, handing over control is part of that. But lets be real for a second, when the internet erupts over the fact that the site has gone "dark" doesn't that mean it really wasn't that "dark" to begin with? The whole idea is how HARD these sites are to get access too, basically a need to know someone and get invited system. It reminds me of back when torrents
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Dark as in darknet means the participants are thoroughly anonymized. What good is a market that's hard to find? Thats the brilliance at work, you can do something completely illegal, at a spot easy to find, and hide behind your computer thanks to freely available software.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Your argument would indicate the market and its customer-base has a huge value once established (and I agree). That would be an argument against a scam by the admins.

    • The only reason people *should* have money there is because a transaction is in process. Maybe people never bother to transfer the remainder back to their own wallet, I don't know. If you're the type of person where you make one transaction every few weeks or months then there is no reason to store any balance on the site other then when you are actually ordering.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      While I have no personal experience with this type of market, they have to have some arbitration mechanism where the money goes through the market itself. That will involve queuing and a sizable amount of cash in the hands of the market itself at any time, and especially when they still accept payments but do not send them onwards. My guess would be that this can be a lot if it takes hours to days for the users to notice. The second additional possibility is that the market offered to anonymize Bitcoin (by

    • The interesting thing is that bitcoin (and most other cryptos) can do N-way transactions by leveraging multi-signature addresses [cryptorials.io]. Some darknet markets incorporate this, some don't. I wouldn't trust one that didn't. Essentially a 3-way transaction requires 2 participants to "sign-off" on the transaction before it can be completed. So, it effectively acts as escrow. The buyer deposits money into the multisignature address. The seller ships the goods. After verification that goods are received, the seller app
    • by yarbo ( 626329 )
      Escrow is going to be for the entirety of the purchase. Not all buyers are buying $50 at a time. Some people are buying ounces of cocaine or kilograms of MDMA. Not all vendors will accept escrow on the especially large orders, but they won't have their finger on the withdraw button either. In general, exit scams are harder on the vendors than the buyers because vendors could have dozens of open orders at any time.
  • "What?"

    "Who?"

    "Dave's not here, man!"

  • And fuck you if you support the DEA.
  • Washington State (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Tuesday April 19, 2016 @11:47AM (#51941247)

    I don't "do" cocaine or meth, but here in Washington State, I buy my weed at the store and smoke it on my front porch as the cops drive by and wave.

    • Must be nice. Too bad these United States ain't so fucking united.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 19, 2016 @12:05PM (#51941413)

      And the whole process of states that have legalized without turning into dens of villainy and despair is casting further doubt on the whole of the drug war.

      We've gone from "you've got to be fucking kidding me" to gallows humor when the sum total cost of the drug war is calculated.

      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        I'm against criminalization of drug use, but I don't for a second believe that pot legalization is representative of all legalized drugs.

        I don't think drug users should be in jail, and certain drugs are clearly not a threat, but there are drugs out there that cause very nasty habits. Legal or not, they can destroy lives, just like legal alcohol does.

        We should not downplay the effects, but remain objective about the benefits of decriminalization, including spending less money on jails and more money on a mo

        • The justification raised for harsh penalties for marijuana use (like the recent life sentence in Alabama) was that it was a "gateway" drug, and that use would lead to other "harder" drugs being used. So again, you'd expect an explosion in drug use in states that legalized.

          Except that didn't happen, and drug use numbers before and after legalization remained about the same across the board for all drugs, and I have every reason to suspect that much like the gateway theory, the notion that hard drug use would

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Considering that "weed" is less harmful that alcohol, nicotine, medication abuse and things like sugar and fat and even stress or lack of exercise, that is how it should be. The whole "War on Drugs" is utterly irrational and far more harmful than what it fights. Of course, a lot of people have careers in continuing this insanity (including the DEA, the prison industry and the legal industry) and the public has now been lied to for so long that it is really hard bringing rationality back in.

      • Not only that, but the war on drugs is directly responsible for the narco-violence that people in central America risk their lives to escape. And when that’s not enough, Libya, Syria, etc., get invaded to produce even more refugees. It’s big money for the small number of super rich people who profit from war. It’s a strategy to divide and conquer. And it’s working: I hereby disagree that nicotine and fat are harmful. Cigarettes and hydrogenated fats are harmful.
  • Is there no honor among thieves?

  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2016 @12:29PM (#51941595)
    "Totes Legit. We Swear."
  • My guess (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2016 @01:35PM (#51942061)

    My guess is that it's "down for maintenance" while the feds move the server(s) to their offices.

    Once that's done it'll be back in business, with a little extra "oversight" *cough*.

  • Things were going fine until the consultant management brought in advocated "eating your own dogfood". Now none of the admins care if the servers are down.

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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