Information and History
If you do not know the AlphaBay name, you can learn more about us here. Our history, vision, how we are better than other marketplaces & why you should choose our platform over any other marketplace. You can find a link to our first public message since 2017 detailing our vision going forward, why we have returned, what has been improved, our decentralized market network and more.
AlphaBay Market (2014-2017) was an online darknet market which operated on an onion service of the Tor network. According to Law Enforcements own words (as well as many other factual resources), it was the biggest and most trusted secure anonymous marketplace ever to have existed where you could buy almost all kinds of black market items from drugs, hacking tools, malware to credit cards, bank accounts, counterfeit items, guns/weapons (now banned) and many more.
AlphaBay was founded by alpha02 and it was launched in 2014. It saw a steady growth, with 14,000 new users in the first 90 days of operation. The darknet informer website Gwern(dot net) placed AlphaBay Market in the top tier of markets regarding the 6-month survival probability and it had proven to be successful. In October 2015, it was recognized as the largest online darknet market according to Dan Palumbo, research director at Digital Citizens Alliance.
AlphaBay was different to other marketplaces by constantly innovating and pushing new features some of which have now became industry-standard. Non-standard services and featuers included customisable digital contracts around building reputations, autodispatch listings (automated selling), sticky listings (promoted ads), featured listing (promoted ads on frontpage), PGP-signed withdraw addresses and more. It was the first marketplace to ever integrate credit card and accounts shop within its system allowing easier purchasing, sorting and ease of choice even for the most novice of fraudsters.
In May 2015, the site announced an integrated digital contracts and escrow system. The contract system allows users to make engagements and agree to provide services in the future, according to the terms of the contract. By October 2015, less than a year of operating, AlphaBay already had over 200,000 users. At the time of its closing in July 2017, AlphaBay had over 400,000 active users.
AlphaBay was noteworthy in the world of darknet markets for accepting another cryptocurrency in addition to bitcoin; one of the first marketplaces ever to recognize the potential and support for Monero, implemented at the end of August 2016.
On March 28, 2015, apart from the usual articles in darknet/security related websites (like Deepdotweb), AlphaBay Market made the news for selling stolen Uber accounts.Uber made a statement regarding a potential data breach:
"We investigated and found no evidence of a breach. Attempting to fraudulently access or sell accounts is illegal and we notified the authorities about this report. This is a good opportunity to remind people to use strong and unique usernames and passwords and to avoid reusing the same credentials across multiple sites and services."In October 2015, the London-based telecommunications company TalkTalk sustained a major hack. The stolen data was put for sale on AlphaBay Market, which later led to the arrest of the hacker. TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding issued the following statement:
"TalkTalk constantly updates its systems to make sure they are as secure as possible against the rapidly evolving threat of cyber crime, impacting an increasing number of individuals and organisations. We take any threat to the security of our customers' data extremely seriously and we are taking all the necessary steps to understand what has happened here."... and many more news articles.
By July 2017, AlphaBay was x16 the size of its predecessor Silk Road (which was busted in October 2013), had over 369,000 listings, 400,000 users, and was facilitating US$600,000-$800,000 of transactions per day, and had built a strong reputation for itself.
Seizures / Operation Bayonet
Several operational security errors which were discovered through Law Enforcements illegal spying programs and later introduced in court documents through a well-known technique by LE called parallel construction, lead to its downfall. Alpha02 had received war-tested and very high quality operational security (opsec) training from DeSnake but failed to act on multiple points on it, despite DeSnake insisting all the time. Most of the Staff members had followed the opsec guideliness given by the security administrator DeSnake and have never been arrested and are currently free (including DeSnake).
On 1 June 2017 a warrant was issued by a United States court on 16 counts. On 30 June 2017 a warrant was issued for the arrest of alpha02. Alpha02 got arrested in Bangkok at his place in Thawi Watthana district which was searched by the Royal Thai Police, with the help of the FBI and DEA alongside Europol and US DOJ.
Unfortunately on 12 July 2017 alpha02 was reported to have commited suicide (but actually killed by Law Enforcement) by hanging while in custody at Thailand's Narcotics Suppression Bureau headquarters in Laksi district, Bangkok, just before due to face US extradition. Little known information was that alpha02 had contingency plans in events like these but they were never able to take place. Alpha02 was murdered (Epstein'd, Mcafee'd) by Law Enforcement while they were 'watching' him. The motive is not entirely clear but a search for the truth by Staff members after the fact had led to several possible conclusions. One of which is although he was caught 'red-handed', police would never be able to prove that through legal means the case against him was build, coupled with the heavy encryption, complex structure of multiple proxies, counter-signal intelligence practices and other protection (as per suggested by DeSnake guideliness) would render near impossible them proving he was actually connecting to AlphaBay or any website for that matter.
AlphaBay was shut down after a law enforcement action as a part of Operation Bayonet (and also the Hansa market) in the United States, Canada, and Thailand, reported 13 July 2017. Law Enforcement leveraged the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) which had been spread by fake/new accounts (created by rival marketplaces and possibly LE itself) ever since AlphaBay started traction, and initiated a trap to capture all vendors and users fleeing from AlphaBay to another marketplace called Hansa. Ever since then the darknet market scene has seen only amateurs and scammers run marketplaces.
All of the above history and more is easily searchable and factually true. From wikipedia to news articles to even academic studies on how our community was organized, we have it all.
How/Why AlphaBay is different
As per quote from DeSnake from the PGP signed message:
AlphaBay boasts with unparalleled safety, ease of use and arguably the best staff team to facilitate all your deals. From a management perspective you will be governed by a mature administration with over 20 years of experience in computer security alone, underground businesses, darknet market management, customer support and most importantly evading Law Enforcement (LE).
On the technical side we have a new built from the ground up secure and audited codebase, bulletproof servers alongside multiple safeguards to handle disruptions of any sorts (hardware, raids/seizures etc.) and our very own AlphaGuard (AG) system which assures users/vendors can access their wallet funds (including escrow) at any time on I2P/Tor as well as restore core functionalities to the marketplace such as disputes, all 100% completely automated.
Administration is the same as before but all staff members have been replaced for security reasons. Trusted members have been chosen to be moderators, people which I have verified through business dealings over many years. As AlphaBay grows, the need to hire more staff will arise, that is why we have introduced a granular system to monitor staff/ScamWatch actions, restrict access to lower level moderators (Junior) or ScamWatch to functions and data they do not need unless valid reason is provided (e.g. detecting scams, fake purchases etc.). Several big changes have been made to how Staff works, given our past experience, which leads to increased productivity and much faster response times in both support tickets and disputes.
Speaking of disputes, a unique innovation which we are bringing to the DNM scene is our very own Automatic Dispute Resolver (ADR) system. Based on experience we have concluded that majority of the disputes can be handled without third-party involvement given the option. ADR is basically a proposition system between buyer and seller involving extending escrow time, full refund, percentage refund or replacement options. Both parties can accept or deny proposition(s) from the other side.
We strongly recommend using ADR because it is exactly the same steps a moderator would take during a dispute without the need to babysit both parties. Even if you do not reach an agreement with the vendor, you would know where you stand or you would have tried certain options like reshipping/replacement of goods. The system has been designed to ensure quick resolution if needed by moderator by looking at what has already happened. If for some reason, at any given time ADR does not work for you and you can not reach an agreement or simply refuse to use it at all, there is always an available moderator to look into it in less than 24 hours.
AlphaBay boasts with unmatched reputation and good-standing within the darknet community. We have always been transparent, professional and fair to every party involved that is why we were the preferred place of business by hundreds of thousands of buyers and vendors. Unlike any other marketplaces we actually have a vision for the future which involves an improvement for the darknet market scene as a whole (Decentralized Market Network). By using our marketplace you help fund the development of the Decentralized Market Network.
As per quote from DeSnake from the PGP signed message:
We know how to run our marketplace and forums, we know what the darknet market scene needs and we have come prepared.
Our main goals include:
Our end goal is to create a fully autonomous, decentralized and anonymous network which can support the creation of a marketplace 'brand' by anyone. We will create an 'AlphaBay' market on that network and migrate our community, giving users and vendors ability to buy, sell and trade in a decentralized manner. Potentially other marketplaces will join the network as it mitigates their requirements and risk of arrest without giving up management control (disputes, what is allowed to be sold, hiring of staff, setting fees, control of their profit wallets etc). Users will be safe to purchase from multiple markets all without the need of trusting any market with their cryptocurrency or registering for each one individually. Vendors will be able to sell on multiple markets seemlessly or even create their own shop while preserving their anonimity and security.
- Set the 'industry standards' with our innovations as we did in the past and mold the future towards a more sustainable model. In addition we want to use our experience in counter-surveillance, counter-signal intelligence and operational security knowledge to teach users, vendors and future darknet admins what they could do to keep themselves and their lives free from Law Enforcement. Most of AlphaBays' staff surviving the raids few years back is proof we know what we are talking about.
- Run the market longer at least 3 times as long as AlphaBay survived in the past.
- Give birth and fund through parts of our profits a new generation of decentralized marketplaces. Updated and many more details you can find in our Forum, an overview below.
As per quote from DeSnake from the PGP signed message:
The reason for returning is not only the poor state of the DNM scene with lack of quality and professional marketplaces, or the monetary gains that come with running a marketplace but most importantly for me is leaving a legacy behind which is worthy of the 'AlphaBay' name and one which alpha02 would be proud of. We had big dreams and decentralized market project was on our to-do list to announce but it was all cut short way too soon by opsec failures, lack of following my opsec guidelines and of course dirty playing by LE with their parallel construction.
Another reason of vital importance of why AlphaBay is returning is how everything ended with alpha02. Arrests, indictments, prison time it is all part of the game. Killing a man without any trial and staging it as a suicide is not. The fate which he was given was unjust. Our searches for the truth have led us to believe that he was Epstein'd (or should we say Mcafee'd more recently?) in a way which shocked everyone. He did not deserve that, I knew him and he really was a nice, bright guy who was genuine about the community and people regardless of what he did.
Over time I tried to deal with the situation as I had seen many arrests of people in the game for over 20 years some with fatal fates but never one where a person was killed in custody by Law Enforcement. Shocking as the AlphaBay situation was, what really struck me and gave me the 'Fuck it' moment was the infamous college/university presentation of US agents showing a never seen before in public video of the arrest. Seeing the agent laughing and mocking the arrest in a high-spirited manner making it as if he was doing stand-up and the students infront of him were his audience. Disgusting. Complete disregard for human life by Law Enforcement, disregard for someone who was presumed innocent unless proven guilty, disregard for their duties as police.
That disregard made me make the decision that alpha02 deserves to be honoured better even as a human and no one was ready or going to do it so fuck it here I am doing this. Achieving the Decentralized Market Network project for the entire DNM community is what I have aimed for and that is how AlphaBay will (literally) live on forever and the alpha02 legacy honoured.
I want to dedicate this to alpha02 first and foremost we promised each other to go to the bitter end, here I am keeping my end of the deal. Second to all the previous AlphaBay users buyers and sellers alike who believed in us and support us throughout. I know all of you lost millions to seizure from Law Enforcement, this time around I have created a very well tested system called AlphaGuard which ensures even if seizures happen on all servers, users will be able to withdraw their funds, settle disputes and leave without a cent lost. Ideally the decentralized network would be up making any LE near impossible to actually disrupt operations. Third to all who keep silent and refuse to cooperate when LE asking, we saw who are real and who rolled over visible from the given sentences. Last I dedicate this to all people who finish something when they start it and keep their promises regardless of the situation.
How has AlphaBay improved since 2017?
Many positive changes have been applied to AlphaBay and the way it operates from Administration to Staff to ScamWatch to how we organize and reward the community for helping the marketplace stay clean and free of bad vendors/products. A non-exclusive list of changes:
- Developed from scratch and battle-tested for years AlphaGuard which ensures even if seizures happen on all servers, users will be able to withdraw their funds, settle disputes and leave without a cent lost. AlphaGuard and its systems can not be detected by LE to be taken down and even if they were, there are 'sleeping cells' which will make sure the core objectives of the program are fulfilled.
- New built from the ground up secure code base for the marketplace. For security reasons we have created a new platform which has many visual similarities to the old one, whoever not a single line of code or code logic has been reused from the 2014-2017 period. The new platform is not based on any public scripts, it is 100% unique with best industry practices and security in mind when creating it.
- Bulletproof servers network and automatic server reconfiguration and deployment (after manual Administration approval) in a matter of minutes, based on the AlphaGuard system. Almost all of our servers are kept in locations with high amount of armed guards and multiple security protocols to pass through before accessing the server racks. We have CCTV access which can alert us of anything happening. Our hosting providers are proven bulletproof which means they will not respond to Law Enforcement requests - local or international.
- New Staff system to a granular system for access. AlphaBay will grow which means we will need to source more Staff. That comes with inherent risks and in order to minimise them we have developed a monitoring system of Staff actions, limiting access to profiles unless needed, permission-requested-permission-granted/denied with comments which have to be approved by higher ranked Staff members, even higher ranked Staff members have their actions logged. Administration reviews the logs on a daily basis to ensure no Staff is abusing their powers for their own benefit or otherwise.
- Our very own Automatic Dispute Resolver (ADR) system. Based on experience we have concluded that majority of the disputes can be handled without third-party involvement given the option. ADR is basically a proposition system between buyer and seller involving extending escrow time, full refund, percentage refund or replacement options. Both parties can accept or deny proposition(s) from the other side. We strongly recommend using ADR because it is exactly the same steps a moderator would take during a dispute without the need to babysit both parties. Even if you do not reach an agreement with the vendor, you would know where you stand or you would have tried certain options like reshipping/replacement of goods. The system has been designed to ensure quick resolution if needed by moderator by looking at what has already happened. If for some reason, at any given time ADR does not work for you and you can not reach an agreement or simply refuse to use it at all, there is always an available moderator to look into it in less than 24 hours.
- AlphaBay now accepts Monero (XMR) only. We have moved away from Bitcoin because not only transactions are too transparent but also because some novice (beginner) users (buyers/vendor) do not obfuscate it enough either due to being incompetent or lazy. To eliminate this attack vector by LE and protect our users, we have decided to accept Monero only with the possiblity of adding other privacy coins in the future. To add an extra layer of defense we run our own internal Monero mixer to guarantee even if your transactions get uncovered they will never be linked to you.
- Heavy focus on I2P rather than Tor network. In our public PGP signed message we have explained that Tor refuses to make changes to how it operates to eliminate attacks used not only to do DoS against hidden services but also used by LE to deanonymize those services and locate them (as they did with AlphaBay).
Why use AlphaBay today over other marketplaces
As per quote from DeSnake from the PGP signed message:
We are professionally-run, anonymous, secure marketplace with a track record like no other marketplace out there - dead or alive. From management to Staff to the technology behind AlphaBay to our bulletproof servers we have the very best. With the protection from a system like AlphaGuard which no other marketplace has, we are clearly a choice for those who have stability and security as their priorities.
4 years have passed since the indictment for the 'AlphaBay Organization' was handed down. It is time to show the DNM scene both to new and old members alike that you can be anonymous and go through the toughest storms if you are a professional and know what you are doing.
The most essential reason of why you should use AlphaBay over any other marketplace is that by using our escrow you become part of the people who help fund building a decentralized network which benefits everyone - vendors, buyers and even other marketplaces. By purchasing from vendors on our marketplace, you generate profit percentage of which is used to fund the decentralized network. Be part of something bigger, something new, something beneficial to the entire DNM scene, something which comes once in a generation and makes a core change to how people buy and sell in a private, secure and anonymous way.
If the community is ready to move to the next generation of marketplaces then do not miss your opportunity to join us and help out - either by using the marketplace or if you are a developer/security expert/sys admin go to our Forum and see how you can contribute, get paid for that and over the long run. It is a community effort that is why this is a community call for everyone - we have the blueprints, help us now, in the present, to make it a reality to help you in the future. We do not want donations, moving your business to us and spreading the word is more than enough. If you want to go the extra mile there will be other activities which we will need help with to make the network run. Those who are outspoken and are active members members/vendors or developers will benefit from the network launching in the long term.
Decentralized Market Network
The Decentralized Market Network is a project proposed by DeSnake in the PGP signed message which aims to create a fully autonomous, decentralized and anonymous network which can support the creation of a marketplace 'brand' by anyone. We want to be able to create an 'AlphaBay' market on that network and migrate our community, giving users and vendors ability to buy, sell and trade in a decentralized manner. Potentially other marketplaces will join the network as it mitigates their requirements and risk of arrest without giving up management control (disputes, what is allowed to be sold, hiring of staff, setting fees, control of their profit wallets etc). Users will be safe to purchase from multiple markets all without the need of trusting any market with their cryptocurrency or registering for each one individually. Vendors will be able to sell on multiple markets seemlessly or even create their own shop while preserving their anonimity and security.
The project is open-source and decentralized, and it is entirely funded through what AlphaBay makes as a marketplace. The more usage we get the more profit we receive which means more can be given to the project. We are not specifying what % goes to the project but it is/will be enough for several developers working full-time.
The project itself will sustain takedowns and seizures by operating a network of servers. The blueprint is each server which is ran must be zero-knowledge so the operator has no information what is going on and can not do malicious actions. Operating a server will be very profitable (multiple times what you would rent a normal server), all servers/nodes will be run through the I2P and Tor Network which gives individual servers some form of anonimity. With such a low barrier to enter and such big profits, it would be a no-brainer for anyone who wishes to make quick money.
The project is planned to be 100% self-sustainable and be able to self-fund itself once it makes enough transactions volume. Currently we believe a fee of 1% of each transaction will be adequate to fund (and make a hefty profit) for developers and network/server operators.
Please refer to our roadmap for current information on progress, planned featured and more.
You can read more information about the Decentralized Market Network project in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section or latest information available on the Forum.