What is Empire Market?
Empire Market is, at the moment, the largest market on the darknet. In the wake of Alphabays’ closure, Empire was founded to provide a new, safer place for consumers to buy products from the darknet. And, now that Dream has quietly withdrawn from the darknet, Empire has only grown bigger and more varied in inventory as more and more vendors have flocked to Empire to sell their products.
How do I register on Empire Market?
You can register on Empire Market by scrolling up, clicking on “Visit Site”, and then clicking on “Register” when the page has loaded. You must decide on a username, password, a six digit PIN, and a login phrase to create your account, save these and don’t lose them! The registration page on Empire also allows you to choose the fiat currency and cryptocurrency for display of product prices. For fiat currency, you may select from USD (United States Dollar), CAD (Canadian Dollars), EUR (Euros), AUD (Australian Dollars), or GBP (British Pound). This selection provides an interesting insight into how diverse and wide-ranging the clientele of Empire are. Moving onto cryptocurrency, we can see that Empire has support for three major cryptocurrencies, those being BTC (Bitcoin), LTC (Litecoin), and XMR (Monero). For maximum privacy, Monero is the recommended option for buying products on the darknet if you aren’t savvy enough to mix your Bitcoin or Litecoin yourself. Monero hides the destinations, origins, and amounts of all transactions using cutting-edge cryptography, and so there is much less of a worry about being spotted on the Blockchain as having paid for products on a Tor marketplace.
What can you buy on Empire Market?
As of writing, Empire Market has over 45000 listings, spread across several categories. The categories are as follows:
– Fraud – Drugs and Chemicals – Guides and Tutorials – Counterfeit Items – Digital Products – Jewels and gold – Carded items – Services – Other Listings – Software and Malware – Security and Hosting
What do each of these mean? Here we can break it down:
Among the obvious sale of credit cards and various financial accounts, what else is here? In this category you can find providers for proxies safe to use for bypassing fraud checks when using cards, hacked (and sometimes legitimate) RDP providers to use for various activities, and services like bank drops for cashing out ill-gotten gains anonymously and quickly. Aside from this, there is not much else here.
Drugs and Chemicals
By far the largest section on the site, and most likely the largest section on any market that has ever existed. This section is divided into several sub-sections, some even vaguely surprising. Available to browse in these sections are:
- Cannabis and Hashish
- Prescription (drugs)
- Weight loss
As always, it is advised that you do your research, and see if there have been any chemical tests of a vendors products before ingestion.
Guides and Tutorials
Most of the guides here are related to fraud and things like carding or cashing out from financial services, but interestingly there are some guides here related to other things. Among the listings seen during the research of this article, there are guides on SMS spamming (presumably for those who want to hunt their own prizes with SMS-based phishing), guides on washing cocaine, and even guides on doing search engine optimization on websites you host on the clearnet. Other than those tidbits, this section is very small and it is recommended that you don’t take seriously the listings about making “1 million dollars in a month”.
The majority of listings here are counterfeit bills in various currencies, with a few more listings being about passing off counterfeit currency yourself in person. Among the more unique listings, products available are “mystery box” random keys for games on the gaming platform Steam, guidance on playing online casino games, passport templates for various countries and states, and (explicitly states) fake watches.
Available in this section are cheap accounts for subscription based websites (for example, Netflix, Hulu, Pornhub), malware, anti-fingerprinting browser software, serial keys for paid software, cracked software, and anything else you can think of that would normally be inaccessible due to high price points. The variety here is too much to talk about it one page, but it is an interesting browsing experience.
Jewels and Gold
Lots of fake (and not so fake) watches. As stated in the category name, you can buy solid gold (and solid not-gold) bars.
Given the emphasis on fraud in the previous section, you may be surprised to hear that this is one of the smallest sections on the site. At the time of writing, this section contained just shy of 200 listings total. The actual items carded are VPNs, clothing, cryptocurrency, and a Samsung S8. Many of the listings here don’t actually belong in this section and are here to cover categorical bases.
Social media followers/likes/views, selfies and pictures of ID for ID verification, and guides on obtaining free food from fast food chains are among the things found in this section that cannot be found elsewhere.
Listings that don’t really belong to any other section. Aside from overlap with other sections, it seems like some vendors use this section for listings to receive tips when customers feel they have gone above and beyond their duty as a vendor.
Software and Malware
Extremely self explanatory, second only to “Drugs and Chemicals” in the list of sections. Bitcoin stealers, keyloggers, cracking tools, account creators, and botnets are available for purchase here.
Security and Hosting
Remote desktop servers, HTTP and SOCKS proxies, VPN accounts, and video/text guides on using the aforementioned tools are available in this section. This section concludes all of the available categories on Empire, so if you’re interested in any of the above, visit the site by clicking the button at the top of the page.
Is Empire Market secure?
“Security” is relative and difficult to analyse, so we will look at this from a few different angles.
First off, let’s take account security as an example. If someone is interested in hacking a vendor account, it is unlikely they will be able to hijack one without significant effort. Empire enforces a mandatory 2 factor authentication policy using PGP for all of their vendors, meaning that hacks become much more difficult since proving identity using cryptography is harder if you don’t have the vendors’ private key.
Next, let’s think about vendor exit scams. As a vendor, there are several rules that act as stumbling blocks to would-be exit scammers. To become a vendor, there is a bond of $300 before you are allowed to sell anything on the market. The bond on its own isn’t that big of a deterrent, but in combination with a few rules that must be followed as a vendor, Asking for a user to finalize their order early is a permanent bannable offense without explicit permission from the administration, and dealing outside of the market is also a bannable offense of equal weight. With these two rules in mind, and a non-zero chance that there is a panel somewhere for moderation staff to monitor this kind of activity, it is hard to say that there is a possibility of “rinse and repeat” offenders paying the $300 vendor bond only to exit when it is so difficult to get buyers to scam in the first place.
Now, the most important thing to wonder about Empire Market and all other markets is whether or not they are likely to exit scam. At the time of writing, there is nothing about Empire or their activity to suggest that they will exit scam. However, the possibilities for markets to do so must be considered and taken in as a risk factor on the darknet. Empire Market has a wallet system, meaning that you must deposit cryptocurrency to one of their market addresses to have the money count towards your balance on the site. Potentially, Empire could one day stop allowing payments to vendors to go through, and cancel all withdrawals, and turn off the site after absconding with the crypto in their wallets. However, as said before in this section, there is nothing about their behavior to suggest they are anything but trustworthy at this time.