Nucleus Vanished, Crypto Market Is One Of The Best Option

 

nucleusWhat’s happened to Nucleus? That is the question on everyone’s lips at the moment. The site has now been down for over a week and with many users screaming “exit scam!”, talk has now turned to which are the best darknet markets to migrate to. While plenty of people are now recommending Dream Market – due mainly to the affiliate bonuses that users can enjoy when new people sign up using their link – we recommend Crypto Market or as one of the best current options available for vendors and customers alike.

It feels like every other day another dark web market disappears. Wasn’t it just a few months ago we were lamenting the loss of Abraxas? Unfortunately, as is the common case, one of the populist favorites has yet again disappeared – and this time it was Nucleus, the second biggest of the darknet markets. With the days since the outage growing ever longer, it’s now time for Nucleus users to turn to other options.

What’s the best option for me?

While many will simply hop on over to AlphaBay, there are another options: Crypto Market (while Silk Road 3.0 is down for maintenance). Although Crypto Market isn’t the largest darknet market around, it is growing insanely fast, it has a dedicated following and is most definitely fully up and online, and has a surprisingly vast range of goods available. The market is a “clean” market, where child porn, terrorism, murder, violence, firearms, weapons, poisons, chemical weapons, etc. are not allowed for trade. Interestingly, Crypto Market also prohibits sales into and out of Russia, as well as Russian users. So, for Russian potential Crypto Market users, we recommend RAMP instead.

A little bit more about Crypto Market

Crypto Market is by the same markers as Silk Road 3.0 and sprung up in February of 2015, but has been down for a couple of months for security upgrades, making it a little over a year old. On the market you will find tens of thousands of listings, the majority of them being for various drugs. The biggest amount of listings are found in the Cannabis and eBooks categories, the latter being where you can find titles such as “Carding – The Complete Tutorial,” “Uncle fester – Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture 8th Ed.,” and the classic “Anarchist Cookbook 4.”

In fact, on Crypto Market, you will find a great many items that are not simply drug related, although there is plenty of that too – “5 Yellow Warner Bros 200mg+ XTC MDMA”, anyone?

Other features

crypto-tor-marketplace-logoThe Crypto Market features a useful news feed, where various vendors can post up special offers, new stock etc.,so if you’re not sure what you’re after you can have a browse around to see if anything new or interesting takes your fancy. Some good deals go up, and every now and then a vendor will have a fire sale.

There’s also a sales feed, where specific items that are on sale are advertised, along with their old prices so you can see how much of a bargain you’re actually going to get. The Crypto Market Q&A section is great for all levels of users, too.

The site isn’t quite as user friendly as Nucleus, but if you’ve been around the darknet markets long enough, you will know that UI doesn’t mean too much. There’s also a forum that is shared with Silk Road 3.0. New users to the forum will have to post five times before gaining access to the full forum. The Crypto Market/ Silk Road 3.0 forum contains interesting info about potential scams, good users to shop with and all sorts of help and bits and pieces.

As with all darknet marketplaces, joining up for this market, and conducting business on it, involves using heightened security measures to ensure your identity is protected and your Bitcoins stay safe.

Crypto Market will be one marketplace to watch in the aftermath of the Nucleus Market outage. If you’re looking for alternative trading places, why not sign up, have a look around and get yourself familiar with the place. You might like to try Crypto Market in combination with a few other markets, just to spread yourself around. After all, your best bet when using these markets is to not put all your interests in the one marketplace, should they suddenly (ala Nucleus) simply vanish without a word.

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What is on Crypto Market

logoCrypto Market is a relatively new dark web marketplace which is rapidly growing thanks to its security, reliability, attractive design and easy navigation. In case you haven’t heard, Crypto Market is designed by the same team of developers that also runs Silk Road 3.0. If you have been a fan of Silk Road 3.0, you will definitely find the Crypto Market a more than suitable alternative.

What’s certain is that Crypto Market has brought a new level of security to the Dark Web. Indeed, the security is impressive and it starts with the sign-up procedure, where you are prompted to use the PIN code. This will also be useful later when you withdraw your bitcoins. You are also prompted to enter the 10-alphanumeric part of the URL (found between crypto and .onion).

xxxxYou may have also noticed a novelty called Newbie Guide. This is something that other markets don’t have and if you are new to Dark Net Markets, Crypto Market may just be the ideal choice for you; and not just because of this Newbie Guide, but in general – it’s quite easy to find everything you’re looking for. This Newbie Guide will provide a basic set of instructions and information which you will find very handy once you create your account.

After you’ve created your account and logged in, you will first see the News section which mainly features information related to the market, and of course product categories listed just below the news. Vendors themselves often publish updates of their services in the News section; but the Support team also publishes important announcements from time to time.

If you scroll down through categories, you’ll see that the Crypto Market is mostly drug related; there are several main drug categories (Cannabis, Stimulants, Ecstasy, Opioids, Benzos, Dissociatives, Psychedelic, Prescription) and then there’s also a category called “Others,” which further features subcategories such as Digital, Bitcoin, Accounts, Money, Software, Misc, eBooks, Services, Others.

Drug related categories are further subcategorized in the following way: (numbers in brackets show the current number of listings)

Cannabis Stimulants Ecstasy Opioids
Weed (6215)
Hash (748)
Edibles (244)
Concentrates (353)
Seeds (195)
Others (5941)
Stimulants (503)
Cocaine (1525)
Speed (835)
Meth (488)
Ecstasy (1056)
MDMA (1283)
Methylone (142)
Pills (1016)
Opioids (636)
Oxycodon (616)
Heroin (896)
Opium (75)
Methadone (93)
Fentanyl (194)
Benzos Dissociatives Psychedelic Prescription
Benzos (612)
Valium (184)
Xanax (695)
Diazepam (81)
Dissociatives (45)
Ketamine (583)
MXE (58)
GHB (99)
Psychedelic (312)
2C (138)
DMT (158)
LSD (562)
NB (90)
Mushrooms (285)
Prescription (1899)
Steroids (454)
Relaxants (63)
Analgesics (38)

 

So, as you can see, navigation on Crypto Market is fairly simple – you can either browse through categories or simply search by keyword. A powerful search filter will enable you to specify your query according to shipping and payment option (escrow or finalize early).

Obviously, the total number of drug listings is huge, and the market features almost any drug in existence!

However, it feels important to us to stress out at this point that these are all illicit drugs and we are certainly not encouraging you to venture into any illegal activity.

The price will vary depending on the vendor, as well as the quality and the origin of the item. The general rule is that if you are buying from a vendor who lives in the western hemisphere, you will have to pay more; and vice versa, it will cost you less if your vendor is from a country located in the eastern hemisphere. This is related purely to the economical status of the country.

Perhaps more interesting category is “Others.” You can even find some legal stuff here, such as books or cigarettes and cell phones.

You can get 15 GB worth of Photoshop templates for mere $15! Also in just $1 you can learn how to rank your YouTube videos better; if you’re into smoking, look for naturally grown tobacco – 80G (which is about 170 cigarettes) for just $12 and since the tobacco is grown in Spain, the shipping will be free if you’re from the EU!

qZtjvImMA Lifetime Netflix subscription is also available for just $0.6! Or if you’re into that, you can get a premium access to some adult websites for just $5; there are also lists of .onion URLs that you might find interesting; various guides for various frauds, like carding or hacking are also on the market here.

But, the Crypto Market offers plenty more for both, vendors and customers:

  • First of all, there is a secure option of paying through escrows; but for trusted vendors, there is an FE (Finalize Early) option.
  • Vendors also have the option of publishing news, particularly useful when they have new products or new stock supply available.
  • Customers have a handy option of tracking their orders; if you don’t have anything to track, it says – It is empty and cold as the Russian winter, comrade!
  • Probably the most interesting feature on Crypto Market is the “Sales” section. You can find various items on discount which can save you some cash.
  • Another very cool feature is the ability to track your activity on the website.
  • Also, you have a Q & A section where you can ask the community various questions; they’re always happy to help. But, before asking, it is always advisable to check whether someone has already asked that particular question. It’s good manners and also helps keep things organized and not overcrowded with same questions.
  • Finally, you can always head to the community forum. It has now merged with the Silk Road 3.0 community forum, and here you will find a number of threads about vendors, their products and services, shipping, security, accounts, anything really.

Disclaimer:

We must note that we are not encouraging people to buy anything illegal from the Crypto Market; the purpose of this article is purely informational.

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Prosecutor Of Silk Road Agents Speaks At Africa Conference

>> Click here to find the AlphaBay Market Guide <<

images (2)If you thought the Silk Road ended with the trial of Ross William Ulbricht then you are definitely wrong. Even after the arrest of Ross Ulbricht aka “Dread Pirate Roberts,” it was soon to be established that during the investigation into the infamous black market site, the Silk Road, two US feds Carl Force and Shaun Bridges used their position to extort and steal bitcoins. Apart from that, Force illegally signed a $240,000 contract with the 20th century Fox to make a movie about the Silk Road investigation. Unfortunately for the two, they got busted and the cop responsible for their busting is none other than William Frentzen. It is due to this achievement and experience into busting the rogue feds that Frentzen was invited to be among the list of expert speakers at the next Blockchain & Bitcoin Africa Conference which is going to be held on the 3-4 of March 2016 in Johannesburg. This will be a two day event focused on cryptocurrency.

William Frentzen, a United States Prosecutor played an important role as part of the prosecution team that put former Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges safely behind bars. Bridges, a former Secret Service agent was found guilty of money laundering and obstruction of justice. He used his position to steal thousands of bitcoins while still investigating illegal drug and other contraband activities on the Silk Road market. He did not stop there but went ahead and moved the stolen bitcoins into an account at an online digital currency exchange based in Japan. After sometime, Bridge liquidated the bitcoins into US$820,000 and transferred the funds to a personal investment account in the US.

Frentzen also featured among the prosecutors against Carl Force who pleaded guilty to charges of extortion, obstruction to justice and money-laundering. Force who was a former DEA agent stole more than $700,000 in digital currency bitcoin. He also secretly solicited payment from the Silk Road founder for information about the US investigation. During the Silk Road investigation, Force posed as a drug dealer with connections to hit-men using the alias Nob. He was tasked with the duty of communicating with Ross, who was the man who created the Silk Road and ran it till his ultimate arrest in 2013.

Force managed to convince Ulbricht who went by the alias Dread Pirate Roberts to pay him $50,000 in bitcoin by pretending he had information about the investigation in August 2013. Even though he reported the discussion to the DEA, he falsely claimed that no payments were made while he secretly diverted the funds to a personal account. He also went ahead without using the authorities’ knowledge and used another online moniker French Maid and offered Ulbricht information on the investigation for an amount totaling to $98,000 in bitcoin. Among the other crimes that he committed included investing in a company that brokered bitcoin and also served as a chief compliance officer while still with the DEA.

01ee2d30bf8082a51feab5c42748ba71

The Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht aka “Dread Pirate Roberts” was arrested in 2013 and later sentenced to life in prison following his earlier convictions on seven charges related to conspiracy, money laundering and narcotics.

The MC of this year’s second annual Blockchain and Bitcoin Africa Conference will be Ian Merrington who is the CEO of the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative. The other nine speakers during the event will include experts from around the world to host the different talks with the main speaker for the event to be announced on a later day.

During the event, delegates will get the opportunity to get the knowledge of William Frentzen and other experts on the panel. His main topic of discussion will be the challenges posed to law enforcement by certain digital currencies and topics of mutual concern between the industry and the government. His schedule is at 14:45-15:30. Some of the other hot topics of discussion during the event will include: the banks of the future; how Bitcoin can help build the next generation of financial services; the potential for bitcoin as an unregulated currency in Africa and Blockchain is the Future: Blockchain Innovation and helping developing nations with land titles and government transparency. The event will adjourn on the 4th of March 2016at 17:00.

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The Silk Road Creator’s Defense Team Appeal His Conviction

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

Ross-William-UlbrichtLawyers for Ross Ulbricht informed an appeals court that the Silk Road founder deserves a new trial. They also told the court that the trial should be focused on the two federal agents who have admitted to involving in corrupt misconduct at the time of investigating the operations of the online black market.

In the 170-page appeal brief that they filed on Tuesday, Ulbricht’s lawyers requested the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the U.S. to throw off his conviction as well as life sentence for creating and operating the Silk Road. The dark web marketplace sold illegal goods such as fake driver’s licenses and heroin to buyers from around the world.

A year ago, a federal jury in Manhattan had determined that the 31-year old founder of the Silk Road was guilty of seven criminal charges following a trial. The charges included conspiracies to launder money, hack computers and sell drugs and the “kingpin” charge, which is usually reserved for drug cartel leaders and mafia bosses. Katherine Forrest, a U.S. District Judge, sentenced Ulbricht to a life term in prison.

Within two months after the conviction of the Silk Road founder, San Francisco prosecutors unveiled charges against two federal agents, Shaun Bridges and Carl Force, who were involved in investigating the operations of Ross Ulbricht. Shaun Bridges was an agent with the Secret Service and Carl Force was an agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Both of them have been sentenced to approximately six years of imprisonment.

In Tuesday’s filing, the lawyers representing Ulbricht said that the defense was prevented from presenting any kind of evidences against the corrupt federal agents by Judge Katherine Forrest during the course of trial last year. This was because the government had directed that secrecy should be maintained when investigating corruption charges. In the Manhattan trial, the federal prosecutors had also said that their investigation into the Silk Road was carried out independent of the investigation of those corrupt federal agents and that the evidence presented against them would in no way have impacted the outcome of the trial.

Joshua Dratel, Ulbricht’s lead attorneyHowever, the contention of Joshua Dratel, Ulbricht’s lead attorney, is that the defense was neither aware of Bridges’ involvement or the scope of the corruption charges in its entirety until after the completion of the trial. He also said that a need to maintain any kind of secrecy was not there as Force was well aware of the investigation prior to the beginning of Ross Ulbricht’s trial. According to Dratel, evidence related to charges against the corrupt federal agents was relevant at the time of the Manhattan trial as the investigation into the activities of the Silk Road was a coordinated effort of many federal districts.

The lawyers of Ross Ulbricht have also requested for a new sentencing by a different judge. Their contention is that the life sentence given to the Silk Road founder was unreasonable as Judge Forrest allowed only the government to present evidence on six overdose deaths that were linked to drugs sold on the Silk Road website, which the defense had always disputed.

During the brief, Ulbricht’s lawyers continued to register their objection to the way in which evidence was presented during the trial. They said that Judge Forrest did not heed to their request to cross-examine witnesses and establish alternate perpetrators (other than Ulbricht). In addition, Ulbricht’s lawyers opined that the Judge should not have allowed presentation of evidence obtained from his Gmail and Facebook accounts as the seizure and search of his laptop by the authorities was illegal.

It is expected that the response to this appeal will be filed by the lawyers representing the government in the near future. Prosecutors are likely to counter argue saying that the offenses committed by Force and Bridges did not have any bearing on the conviction of Ulbricht for the crimes committed by him. This is because Force and Bridges were part of the investigation task force in Baltimore and not part of the FBI’s team (which included agents from the DHS and the IRS) that was led by their office in New York. Further, both Force and Bridges did not testify at Ulbricht’s trial and the office of the FBI in New York had carefully segregated itself from the activities of the task force in Baltimore. Actually, the segregation of the two teams resulted in Ulbricht being separately indicted for attempted murder. This charge was not included in the New York case and it has not been tried so far.

However, the argument being put forward by Ulbricht’s lawyers is that the segregation between Baltimore and New York was not as tight as the government made it out to be. According to Dratel, a DHS agent who was part of the Silk Road investigation team in New York often spoke as well as exchanged intelligence with Force.

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The Silk Road And Dark Web In 2015

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

In spite of shutting down many of the black marketplaces operating on the dark web in 2015, the anonymous network continues to hog the limelight. Additionally, the dark web is now emerging as a legitimate tool for many a purpose. Some publications have compiled a list of websites in the Deep Web/Dark Web.

Read on to find out what was swamped out of the dark web in the past one year.

Silkroad Is Still Making News

Notwithstanding the fact that Silkroad was shut down over a couple of years ago, May 2015 saw the conviction of the Silkroad founder Ross Ulbricht. The Silkroad creator was sentenced to life imprisonment (owing to charges on seven counts that include narcotics conspiracy, computer hacking, and money laundering), though his defense is appealing the conviction decision. The moderators of the Silkroad forum were not spared either. Whereas Peter Nash, the Silkroad forum moderator, has come out of the prison after 18 months, Gary Davis, who was allegedly accused of being a Silkroad administrator bearing the codename “Libertas,” is even now fighting his extradition procedures from Ireland to the US.

Silkroad shut down
The most sensational Silkroad related arrest of the year was that of Roger Thomas Clark, purportedly the right-hand man of Dread Pirate Roberts. Codenamed “Variety Jones,” he was arrested as recently as in December 2015 from Thailand after spotting his presence in a cannabis enthusiast forum. However, in the midst of the arrest drama, he claimed that he had actually wanted to turn himself in to the authorities. He awaits extradition procedures to the US.

Though the original Silkroad is no longer present in the dark web, numerous other black marketplaces have sprung up instead and have continued to sell items that were banned on Silkroad, including stolen data and guns.

Dangerous Weapons Make their Way Out Of the Dark Web

After the shutdown of Silkroad, year 2015 saw the disappearance of dangerous weapons from the Dark Web. The largest black marketplaces, (after Silkroad) Evolution and Agora had listed these kinds of weapons before they stopped operations in the months of March 2015 and August 2015, respectively. Whereas Evolution was not to be seen after an apparent scam, Agora went on a self-declared sabbatical and is yet to come back.

Agora was forced to stop selling guns fearing presence of decoy undercover agents posing as sellers. Other dangerous weapons have since started disappearing from the dark web marketplaces.

The Good Side

Amidst all the negatives about the dark web and Silkroad that made news in the past, there was also some good that emerged out of the use of the Tor anonymous software in 2015. The fact that dark web offered space for a wide range of useful applications was acknowledged when the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) formally labeled the .onion domain in the month of September last year. Both these bodies have recognized the legitimate uses of Tor. This input was provided by Runa Sandvik who is a security researcher at a company responsible for maintenance of the Tor software.

Additional accolades came in Tor’s way when a large amount of data was provided by a hacker using the “SecureDrop” facility of Tor. This application helps sending a large amount of documents to journalists using the Tor anonymity network.

Tor Offers No Foolproof Anonymity

Tor
Some more recent incidents involving dark web only went on to reveal that all is not foolproof in the dark web. According to the court, university-based research scientists at the SEI of Carnegie Mellon University had provided identities of dark web users (including Silkroad) to the FBI. Members of the Tor Project also alleged that the FBI paid close to $1 million to the university for the information.

This hacked information provided has been useful in at least two cases, it is claimed. The arrests of an alleged Silkroad 2.0 staff member and that of an alleged pedophile. The hacking of the data also led to the arrest of a couple of Irish drug dealers on dark web. They were sent to prison in December 2015. The SEI is suspected to have attacked Tor last year because of a cancelled conference on the topic. However, the fact that hacking of the Tor software is possible has led to the expectation that many more cases will see the light of day this year.

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New Charges Filed Against Silk Road’s “Variety Jones”

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

And so, the Silk Road saga continues.

More than two years after Ross Ulbricht, aka Dread Pirate Roberts, was arrested in an unsuspecting San Francisco library for his role behind the Silk Road dark web marketplace, another alleged major player in the story has been charged. (Ulbricht has subsequently been sentenced to life in prison.)

police handcop

Variety Jones, a figure that emerged during Ross Ulbricht’s trial, was charged a few short weeks ago with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit narcotics trafficking. These charges carry maximum terms of 20 years and life, respectively.

New charges added to the criminal complaint by the US Department of Justice on December 18th include narcotics trafficking, narcotics distribution via the internet, conspiracy to distribute fraudulent ID documents, and conspiracy to aid and abet hacking. It is unclear just how many criminal charges in total will be laid against Variety Jones in regards to his part in the Silk Road marketplace.

The man that the Department of Justice alleges is Variety Jones is a 54-yr. old Canadian by the name of Roger Thomas Clark. Clark was arrested in Thailand on December 3rd, where he has been suspected of living for the past few years on the picturesque island of Koh Chang.

Clark is now sitting in a Thai jail cell attempting to fight extradition charges, according to his lawyer.

But how were authorities lead to Clark? And how does Variety Jones fit into the picture?

During Ulbricht’s trial, chat logs and Ulbricht’s journal were uncovered that pointed to a figure – Variety Jones and his various pseudonyms – as a key player in the Silk Road empire. Variety Jones emerged as a firmly entrenched business mentor to Ulbricht, and even suggested his Dread Pirate Roberts name.

The pair met through the Silk Road marketplace, where Variety Jones was a well-respected marijuana seed dealer. In late 2011, Variety Jones uncovered a flaw in the marketplace and immediately informed Ulbricht. Conversations lead to a significant server configuration change, and the relationship was established.

From there, the two became close, with Variety Jones making various business suggestions regarding the marketplace and its future. Jones was even the first person to suggest that Ulbricht “make a hit” on someone – which ultimately failed due to the hitman actually being a corrupt law enforcement officer trying to bring about the downfall of both Ulbricht and Silk Road.

Ulbricht and Variety Jones plotted to turn Silk Road into a “Google-like” structure, with encrypted web mail, a credit union, and Bitcoin exchange. This project was not to come to fruition.

That corrupt law enforcement officer, along with other efforts, ended up being the downfall of Silk Road and ultimately Ulbricht himself. After identifying Variety Jones as a key player during the trial, both the internet (via user La Moustache), and presumably law enforcement, went to work trying to identify the mysterious figure behind the Variety Jones name.

Efforts via a combination of studying collapsed Mt. Gox exchange user databases, Bitcoin blockchain records, investigative journalism, and possibly even good old fashioned hacking, uncovered a trail leading back to Thailand and the 54-yr. old Roger Thomas Clark.

Variety Jones, it seemed, had been involved in selling marijuana seeds for some time. His business wasn’t simply established when Silk Road came online. He was linked to forum posts in 2006 on a popular site for seed sellers, and then travelled in 2008 to the island of Koh Chang to source a very particular strain of marijuana seed. In later years he continued posting on various marijuana forums, even supposedly currently making posts from his Thai jail cell via a secret hidden mobile phone.

An early adopter of selling via the dark web marketplace, Variety Jones was conducting business in Bitcoin since the early days of its appearance. It appears he was a key figure in growing the Silk Road marketplace and acted as a mentor to Ulbricht.

For now, Clark is awaiting his fate, still sitting in an undesirable Thai cell packed with other prisoners. Ulbricht is in jail attempting to appeal his convictions. A third major figure behind Silk Road, Smedley, the website’s key coder, remains a mystery for now.

thailand BoatIt is likely that Clark will be extradited to the United States from Thailand to face all charges laid against him. It will be interesting to see how the trial plays out, especially considering the sentencing previously applied to Ulbricht. Silk Road and its creators have fallen from grace, and it appears the deep web isn’t as anonymous as we’d like it to be.

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University Helped FBI Take Down Silk Road 2.0

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<
Remember that ominous Operation Onymous (pun intended)? Well, apparently an academic institution was involved in bringing down a number of dark web markets in 2014. It is speculated that the academic institution in question is in fact the Carnegie Mellon University, CMU that provided the crucial information to the FBI.

Just a reminder, Operation Onymous brought down as many as 27 dark web markets at the time, including Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 2.0 was launched just a month after the original, Ross Ulbricht’s Silk Road marketplace was seized by the FBI in 2013.

Message
What this new information brings into question is, first of all, the nature of the role academic institutions have in fighting crime on the dark web; and secondly, the fairness of the trials that followed after the operation, since allegedly the crucial evidence in discovery hasn’t been disclosed.

It began with the arrest of certain Brian Richard Farrell from Seattle, who quickly admitted that he was behind the nickname “DoctorClu” a member of Silk Road 2.0 staff.

The search warrant presented to Farrell by Special Agent Michael Larson says that the FBI received “reliable IP addresses for TOR and hidden services, such as SR2” from a “Source of Information (SOI).” The obtained information included the main marketplace, its forum, support interface and section typically accessed by staff and dealers only.

With the help of this information, the FBI was able to obtain the location of the Silk Road 2.0 servers, and ultimately to discovering another 20+ dark web marketplaces, fake and scam websites.

But, the mysterious Source of Information also provided some 78 additional IP addresses – users’ IPs – known to access the vendor .onion address.

Farrell was arrested and is currently on trial for conspiracy to distribute heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.

But, that’s all good news, right?

Well, perhaps.

In October this year, the government notified Mr. Farrell’s defense counsel in a letter stating that his “involvement with Silk Road 2.0 was identified based on information obtained by a ‘university-based research institute’ that operated its own computers on the anonymous network used by Silk Road 2.0.”

Silk Road 2.0
Symptomatically, the events mentioned above line up perfectly with the attack that happened in 2014 on the Tor network:

Sometime in July, 2014, Tor wrote in a blog post about certain indications that a group of relays were working to compromise the anonymity of users. Apparently, they were on to those who “operate or access Tor hidden services.” Eventually, Tor removed those relays, but the time this happened matches the time the FBI obtained the IP addresses of the dark web markets and their users from its trusted source.

Another symptomatic event was the Black Hat hacking conference where Alexander Volynkin and Michael McCord, both academics from Carnegie Mellon University. They were scheduled to present “how a $3000 kit can unmask the IP addresses of Tor hidden services” and their users. Surprisingly, the much anticipated talk was … canceled.

However, the description of the talk remarkably resembled the attack on the Tor network. Plus, the distinguished pair of academics also revealed that they “had tested attacks in the wild.”

A number of people familiar with Farrell’s case have come to believe that the mysterious source of information and the perpetrator behind the attack was in fact the CMU. However, whether these allegations are true or not has not yet been confirmed.

Is there a moral of the story?

Of course, always!

To start, let’s consider again how Tor network works. It operates through a network of trusted relays, nodes as they are called. The connection is encrypted and goes through a circle of relays to its destination.

Tor Networks
BUT, it’s been revealed by Tor Project that it is possible to deanonymize the user. Apparently, if the entry node is aware of the IP address of the user and the last node knows his destination – the connection can be intercepted and the IP address compromised. It was this vulnerability of Tor referred to in the description for the Black Hat talk by the two academics.

So, Is there anything users CAN do to reduce the risk of being deanonymized?

Again, of course!

The risk is significantly less if using Tor in combination with a decent VPN (Virtual Private Network). When using a VPN, you don’t connect automatically to the webpage you want. You first connect to VPN server which then forwards you to your desired webpage.

So, in the very first instance of this connection your IP address is different from your real IP; so, when you connect to Tor network – there is absolutely no way for the entry node to identify your IP address or your location.

Better still, there are VPNs that don’t keep any logs of users’ activity online, so even if asked by the authorities to deliver these logs – they can’t!

Moral? Despite a widespread discussion on the internet regarding this case – it’s the government’s job to catch the criminals, so it’s hardly their fault these guys fell. The fault also doesn’t rest with the CMU or any other academic institution for that matter. Had these guys used even the worst VPN in combination with Tor, they wouldn’t have been busted!

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Silk Road And The Other Dark Web Markets

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<
The idea of anonymous markets selling drugs and other illegal goods and services is much older than the Internet; the appearance of the World Wide Web has not only put things in motion; it has also accelerated everything! Internet is the perfect environment for all illicit trades. But how it all began and who are THE names on the Dark Web?

The outrunner of the dark web was certainly The Hive, an online community forum used for discussions about marihuana.

Silk Road Reloaded

One of the first dark web markets was The Farmers Market. Launched in 2006, it moved to Tor in 2010. Two years later, several operators were arrested and the market closed. They were busted quite easily since they had been using PayPal and Western Union! Nevertheless, in the dark web annals The Farmers Market stands as the forerunner of Silk Road and the multitude of other markets.

Silk Road was founded by Ross Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, in February 2011. They were the first to use Tor, bitcoin escrow and customer feedback system. It was something entirely new and it became standard for all then and the future dark web markets.

They became globally popular after Gawker published an article about the site. They also became No.1 wanted criminals in the eyes of the Senator Chuck Schumer, who pressured the Department of Justice to catch the people behind this dark web market.

After more than two years of investigation, Silk Road was seized by the FBI and Ross Ulbricht arrested in October 2013. Earlier this year, he was sentenced to lifetime in prison.

Silkroad Seized

Merely a month after the fall of the famous dark web market, Silk Road 2.0 was founded, apparently by the remaining staff of the previous giant. It was the exact replica but with some safety issues handled much better, or so they claimed. SR 2.0 market promoted the very same idea of its predecessor – they were selling quality goods in nonviolent environment and they were never into child pornography, guns, prostitution, stolen credit cards etc.

In February 2014, $2.7 million worth of bitcoins was stolen from the site’s escrow; but, luckily admins gave up their commissions in order to refund the stolen money. How about that?!

The Silk Road 2.0 was seized in the Operation Onymous, along with other dark web markets – all in one day. Blake Benthall, also known as Defcon, was arrested as admin of the site.

Many markets saw the Onymous operation as an opportunity to climb higher on the dark web ladder. Agora was definitely one that succeeded. It was a pretty strong market even before the operation; but for some reason it was omitted. In April 2015, they saw their peak, becoming the leading market on the dark web.

In August 2015, they took down their own site, temporarily as they said, due to some security issues with Tor.

Code

After the fall of Silk Road, some markets saw their chance in fraud. One of the biggest exit scams was performed by the admins of Evolution market. Founded in January 2014 it appeared to value similar creeds as Silk Road – it didn’t allow child pornography, prostitution, murder/assassination, Ponzi schemes; but unlike SR, they were dealing with stolen credit cards.

In March 2015 Evolution counted a decent number of loyal and happy customers, when they decided to “retire” from the business with $12 million worth of bitcoin in escrows! Some users allegedly warned about the exit scam a week before it actually happened speaking of their troubles to withdraw bitcoins from the escrow.

Another SR wannabe appeared on the I2P network – Silk Road Reloaded.  It does remind somewhat of the philosophy and security of the original Silk Road. Namely, the I2P network is much safer than Tor. A novelty on Silk Road Reloaded market is the possibility to use multiple cryptocurrencies – Anoncoin, Darkcoin, Dogecoin and Litecoin; the list is constantly expanding and it will be possible to exchange any currency for bitcoins. As someone noticed, now not only that the site admins are earning from sales commissions, but from currency exchanges as well. Silk Road Reloaded can only be approached by I2P software or any other software that has access to eepsites.

And, such is the legacy of Silk Road, once a giant Dark Web marketplace. Many have tried to recreate, replicate the success (if you can call it that) of the original SR brand and many new markets that appear today are just pale copies of the original. Perhaps, it’s time to finally let this dinosaur rest in peace.

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The Mysterious Dark Web

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

For most people, the dark web is a place of intrigue and mystery. It is where the villains and shady dealers of the Internet congregate, a place wherein the trade of the illicit and the illegal is the main order of the day… every day. Stolen credit cards, fake documents, dangerous drugs, weapons, murderers-for-hire, and pornography of unspeakable magnitude – all of these can be found with just one click away.

Dark Web

It’s easy to see why the “dark web” has gotten such an infamous reputation as it has right now. For one thing, most of the things mentioned above are somewhat true. The Silk Road was a prominent marketplace on this network that leaned on such kind of illegal trade. Silk Road was eventually shuttered down by the FBI after its founder, Ross Ulbricht (Dread Pirate Roberts), was caught.

Accessing Dark Web Content and Marketplaces like the Silk Road

DeepWeb

In a nutshell, the dark web is a network of websites and online content that require special browsing software to access. As such, the websites on the network are inaccessible to “normal” search engines like Google and Bing. Dark web content can’t also be viewed through normal browsers. It’s basically a no-holds barred, free-for-all version of the internet that most people use. There are no regulations to be followed, no censorship, and no surveillance to be worried about (especially if one is particularly careful about how he/ she browse dark web content).

One kind of service that allows people access to dark web content is the Tor (The Onion Router) Network. What this network does is scramble a user’s IP address over a series of “relays” all over the world, thus making everything untraceable. Should one want to browse the Silk Road and other illicit marketplaces online, user’s Internet traffic and IP address will be passed through these relays for so many times, that it is nearly impossible to trace the traffic back to the user.

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Dark Web Site Like Silk Road, Shut Down By Authorities

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

Ross Ulbricht’s Silkroad is gone and his Silkroad trial has been a wrap. However, that has not stopped the emergence of other dark web marketplaces whose intent is to fill the void left by Silkroad. Italian police report that they have closed the curtains on another major dark web site, said to be trading anything from child pornography to guns and drugs.

Filling in the void left by Silkroad

Arrested

Police say that in an operation they dubbed “Babylon”;a systematic infiltration led to the closure of one of the more notorious havens of drugs and pornography around, collecting over 11,000 bitcoins wallets worth about1 million euros. The site had been in use for a while and just like Silkroad, it made use of the bitcoin cryptocurrency to ease transactions and throw a veil over the identities of those involved. Speculation is rife over what the market could realistically have been worth. However, the fact that it had over 14000 members and facilitated over 170,000 transactions points that a lot was going on in there. Police estimation puts the number of drug dealers using the site up until the time of closure at around 200, a hefty number only heard back in the day when Silkroad was in its prime.

An “extremely difficult” call

Michele Prestipino, a public prosecutor who led the investigation, has pointed out that what started out as an attack on child pornography brought down an entire site. The dark web’s frustrating antics seem to continue haunting the police, with the official claiming that getting into the depths Of the Babylon site was “extremely difficult”.

Money

The Italian site “Babylon” is said to have been the brainchild of an Italian citizen from Naples. Like Silkroad, this site was only available via the Tor anonymous browser.

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