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14 July 2017

Dark web marketplace AlphaBay reportedly shut down by authorities

Probably not an accurate representation of a typical AlphaBay customer.
Probably not an accurate representation of a typical AlphaBay customer.

Image: imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

AlphaBay, a dark web marketplace for wares in the “not exactly legal” category, went offline in early July, and many users assumed the admins decided to make away with their money. 

But a new report from The Wall Street Journal claims that AlphaBay was actually taken down in a coordinated action by the authorities in the U.S., Canada and Thailand. 

Alexandre Cazes, a Canadian citizen and allegedly one of the site’s operators, was arrested in the bust, WSJ‘s sources claim. There will be no trial for him, though, as he was found hanged in his cell in Thailand on Wednesday. Two raids related to the bust were also carried out in Canada, Montreal Gazette reports

The details on the bust are scarce. But it’s not hard to imagine why the authorities would want to shut down AlphaBay.  Launched in 2014, the site was accessible only on the dark web and accepted two forms of cryptocurrency: Bitcoin and the anonymity-oriented Monero. It allowed users to purchase or sell drugs, guns, stolen user data and other illegal goods. 

Operating AlphaBay was likely a very profitable operation. Nicolas Christin — associate research professor at Carnegie Mellon University and online marketplace expert — told WSJ that estimated the daily sales on the site were between $600,000 and $800,000. According to a Bangkok Post article, Thai police impounded four Lamborghinis and three houses from Cazes, with a total value of $11.8 million.  

AlphaBay was the most successful successor of Silk Road, another dark web marketplace which was shut down by the FBI in 2013. That site’s founder, Ross Ulbricht, was sentenced to life in prison in 2015. 

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