One of the largest English darknet marketplaces, Dark0de Reborn, has performed an exit scam. Many were surprised to see their funds were locked up. However, the warnings that Dark0de was in the midst of an exit scam were clear for months.
In the last few weeks, many users have voiced their concerns about the marketplace on the dread forum. Dark0de users and vendors brought evidence that Dark0de was removing vendor accounts, altering funds, and similar. Unfortunately, the Dark0de admin would simply mock these users or send them a giant middle finger. Dark0de has now left the marketplace in a typical exit scam.
What is Dark0de Reborn?
Dark0de Reborn was the largest English darknet marketplace. The site is not that old, starting back in July 2020. However, it quickly grew in popularity as it provided a service for users worldwide. They also did not have any restrictions on the types of items available for purchase. At the start of 2022, the site hosted over 300,000 users and more than 2,000 vendors. They took the title as the biggest English darknet market after the White House Market left in 2021. It should be noted that they likely had many more users join in 2022 after multiple alternatives closed down. Like its predecessors, by holding the title as the biggest marketplace, it seemed more likely than ever to pull off an exit scam.
Although it is not uncommon for darknet marketplace users to complain about “orders not coming through”, “funds not appearing”, and similar types of complaints. These are often due to phishing links or because the user is simply trying to get a free fix. However, with Dark0de, a larger number of complaints were made than usual, and these complaints were made from more reputable sources and top-rated vendors.
u/LetterKenny shared his frustrations on the d/DarkNetMarkets subDreads. He was a well-known vendor on the Dark0de market. However, on February 1st, he claimed that he had a frozen account due to “not responding to disputes.” LetterKenny accepted that this is a reason that one could shut a vendor’s account down, but claimed there were no disputes open. The main reason he was frustrated over this move is that he had over $2000 on his site’s wallet, as well as a further $1000 sitting in escrow from orders. He explained that he is happy with users being refunded the $1000 in escrow, however, it is not fair that they do not refund him the $2000. He also claimed that “My account, as well as 10-15 others, was banned last week.”
Once LetterKenny attempted to re-open the account, his ticket was closed without a reply. He complained on the d/Dark0de subDread, only for the post to be deleted and his account banned. Many other vendors shared similar experiences in the comment section.
In early January, a diamond-level vendor came forward with a surprising situation about Dark0de. u/LittleBitsUK was a Dark0de Market vendor with over 7500 sales. However, in the middle of January, he was locked out of his account with $10,000 inaccessible. Similar to LetterKenny, they closed his ticket without a reply. When LittleBitsUK complained about this issue on d/DarkNetMarkets his account was quickly restored, and the Dark0de admin apologized but ridiculed him for complaining to the public.
There was a trend and pattern, as more and more vendors came forth with concerns, many of which claimed that Dark0de was planning to exit scam.
We Are Holding Withdrawals
Although there was growing speculation against the site, on February 20th, evidence came out that the site had stopped all withdrawals. Multiple users flooded the subDread, claiming that their withdrawals were taking hours to process. One diamond-level vendor known as Rambo complained about his withdrawals on d/Dark0deRebord.
“I just don’t know what to do. I’ve got 7 withdraws and have not been paid for any of them. 10,000$ of which was more than 48hours both xmr and bitcoin They also banned me from withdrawals for 7 days because I changed my password, so I had to wait 7 days ans watch bitcoin drop from 42-43 all the way down to what it is now ($38k)”
A few moments later, the Dark0de market admin replied, saying that
” We are working on several security changes after we received more information from Hugbunter and others. This comes after we experienced a heavy DDoS attack. All withdrawals will be processed within the next 24 to 48 hours. I thank everyone for their patience and understanding. – Dark0de Admin”
Some users accepted this claim, though many had already seen that the worst was yet to come. At this point, users could still add funds to their accounts and make orders, but nobody could make withdrawals.
Although some users complained and called the admin out, claiming it was a clear exit scam, he would simply ridicule them. To one user, he sent a giant middle finger, to another he claimed, “Well, 2022 is a Dark0de year. Anyone who would like to see us go pulled the short straw. Too fucking ba. We are here, and we are staying. “
Dark0de Goes Dark
Just under a week after withdrawals were put to a halt, the exit scam took place. Although the site was functioning still, a conversation started on the d/DarkNetMarket that something even more fishy was going on. u/BlackManda1fe posted on the subDread that he noticed the admin and mods were gone, and u/Dark0deReborn had deleted his Dread account. Along with this, he posted evidence to show the user had been deleted.
Just 10 minutes after BlackManda1fe posted this, the Dark0de Marketplace went offline. All servers were shut down. Moments later, users reported the market was offline, and all signs pointed in the same direction; Dark0de had exit scammed its community. Dark.Fail tweeted moments later about the site.
“ALERT: Dark0de Reborn darknet cryptomarket exit scammed, disappearing with everyone’s account and funds. – @DarkDotFail”
In recent months, we have seen many retirements on the darknet, where users have had the opportunity to close their accounts and remove all their funds fairly. The fact is that many market admins have alternative agendas than these previous admins did. Whether this was the admin’s plan all along, or the pressure of being the biggest market got to him is unclear. What we do know is that Dark0de is gone.
Taking its place as the biggest English darknet marketplace is World Market. While the World Market is great, we suggest giving smaller markets a chance.