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Closed For Business: Taking Down Darknet Markets

A presentation by John Shier

Darknet markets come and go for various reasons. Over the last several years we’ve seen law enforcement take down several of the largest darknet markets to ever exist on the dark web. In a story that involves multi-national cooperation, death and deception, this talk will look at the fascinating story behind Operation Bayonet and the seizure and subsequent takedown of AlphaBay and Hansa. It will also cover the subsequent closure, in April 2019, of the leading darknet market, Dream.


How do darknet markets operate, even today? – 04:52 minutes
Why do darknet markets shut down? – 07:56 minutes
AlphaBay – 10:02 minutes
Hansa – 14:31 minutes
Operation Bayonet – 19:50 minutes
Dream Market – 26:05 minutes
WallStreet Market & Valhalla – 29:24 minutes

How do Darknet markets operate, even today?

As John mentions in the video, the process looks something like this:
“First thing you need to do obviously is to take your real money and turn it into fake money and then deposit that into your market account. Once the buyer request has been initiated, the funds then go into escrow and are held there until the buyer acknowledges receipt of these goods and services. Once the buyer acknowledges the receipt, the funds are then released to the vendor and the market will take a cut of the proceed. Generally they take around 2 to 6 percent commission. That’s how these guys basically make their money.”

Below you will find the visualisation how the darknet markets work


Availability of darknet markets (2012 – 2018)

This info graphic shows the darknet markets that have been available over the time span of 7 years. The legend can be found blow the graphic.

Red = Unknown
Gold = Hacked
Green = Raided
Blue: Scam
Violett: Voluntary


Read the story behind the AlphaBay Market by clicking on the banner.



Read the story behind the Hansa Market by clicking on the banner.

Dream Market

You can find this at length 26:05 minutes.dream_1



WallStreet Market & Valhalla

On May 2nd 2019, Wallstreet Market and Valhalla Market got taken down.valhalla_seized

Only 5 days later, the FBI seized the extremely popular dark web news site “DeepDotWeb”. User seemed to have a hard time understanding why DeepDotWeb was also a target of the FBI. So why was it targeted in the first place?wallstreet_seized

The FBI released this info graphic which explains why all of this was illegal.deepdotweb_steps

The DeepDotWeb admins would create an account on one of these markets. When an account is created, the admins would get a referral link which they would later publish on DeepDotWeb & then promote the darknet site. When DeepDotWeb users went on the darknet site to create an account, they would most likely use the referral link to sign up.ddw_payments

This way the admins received more than $15 million in kickbacks. DeepDotWeb’s referral links was responsible for 24% of all AlphaBay transactions and 47% of all Hansa transactions.

A Behavior-based Method for Detecting Distributed Scan Attacks in Darknets

AlphaBay Market