As the darknet’s largest market prepares to wind down, its second largest is taking the strain. When Dream closes for good at the end of April, Wall Street will become the largest darknet market (DNM), at least until Dream’s successor launches and can prove its legitimacy. Paranoia has pervaded the darknet in recent weeks amidst uncertainty over marketplace integrity and a string of high profile busts.
While Dream winds down the clock, ahead of a planned shutdown and transition to a new DNM, customers have flocked elsewhere. Many have taken up residence at Wall Street, which has struggled to process the spate of new orders. A notice posted on the site this week warned of address generation, input detection, signing messages and other onchain processes taking longer than normal. Unlike Dream, Wall Street doesn’t provide deposit addresses: instead buyers send funds from a personal wallet directly to a two-of-three multisig, created for each unique transaction.
Customers have the option to pay with BTC or with monero (XMR), and PGP login is available for added security. The number of vendors and listings on Wall Street is much lower than on Dream, and the success or failure of the first orders placed by former Dream users will be pivotal in determining whether Wall Street can capitalize on its competitor’s impending demise.
In addition to facing uncertainty on the darknet, vendors and buyers have been on high alert in the streets. A series of law enforcement raids have added to the sense of disquiet, including a Sacramento operation that netted close to $2M of BTC. “The darknet is not the cloak of secrecy for illegal drug users that they think it is,” said U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott at a news conference announcing the busts, which targeted opioid sellers.
Meanwhile, a Canadian drug dealer battling to retain the $1.4M of BTC found in his possession has suffered mixed fortunes. Superior Court Justice Jane Kelly ruled that the BTC should be confiscated, but consented to allow 30-year-old Matthew Phan to keep 7.23 BTC, as the judge was not entirely confident that this sum was associated with criminal activity. The raid which saw Phan’s BTC confiscated occurred in 2015, when his digital assets were worth around $65,000. While he has now forfeited the lion’s share of the 280 BTC he was found with, Phan’s remaining 7.23 BTC should provide some solace upon his release.
The past month has provided little cheer for darknet users, with one of the few crumbs of comfort coming courtesy of the Tor Project, responsible for developing the onion browser used for connecting to the darknet. The foundation has expanded the list of cryptocurrencies it accepts, and now takes donations in bitcoin cash, monero, zcash and several more. In addition, donations sent to Tor will now be received directly by the project, instead of going via Bitpay. Thanks to the addition of support for several privacy-centric coins, the darknet’s most devout users now have an easier way to support the project whose work makes it all possible.
What are your thoughts on the closure of Dream and its proposed successor? Let us know in the comments section below.
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