January 5, 2020

Live Updates - Imminent Collapse of Empire

As of December 2019 many users on Empire Market have been experiencing issues with deposits. Site administrators are not replying to concerned users.

What's your experience with Empire?
Email: autoupdate(AT)protonmail(.)com
Automatically updated, here's a template:
To: autoupdate(AT)protonmail(.)com
Subject: Emp
ID: Bob
Message: "Empire not working, DDoS"

15:00 UTC on 04/1/20 - Anonymous - "I'm trying to join Empire but it keeps telling me wrong captcha. Pretty damn sure I had it right at least once in 20 attempts"

17:00 UTC on 04/1/20 - Anonymous - "E has been experiencing heavy attacks after the holidays"

19:00 UTC on 04/1/20 - From Reddit - "That’s if you can even get on there to deposit. I barely was able to manage to put my PGP on my profile, that was a struggle and a half."

21:47 UTC on 04/1/20 - Anonymous  - "Does this work, test, test"

22:06 UTC on 04/1/20 - From Reddit - "Empire has had a good run but personally have never had any issues . Yes connection was a bit up n down but recently no issues"

00:02 UTC on 05/1/20 - From Reddit - "I've literally only been using EM for 2 days so not sure what the up time was like beforehand mixed bag if I'm honest. I can sometimes get to it using onion links from trusted sources, I'd say I get an error message maybe 40% of the time. Once in to EM, I note down their mirrors, which usually seem to be reliable (albeit slow AF) for about 10 minutes. After which I cycle through the mirrors until I find one working. It's frustrating to use, but patience is a virtue."

00:33 UTC on 05/1/20 - From Reddit - "Ive had no problem with deposits but the crashing is annoying"

11:25 UTC on 05/1/20 - From Reddit - "I made two disputes yday, Got refunds about a day or two later and have made new purchases. Still waiting on final dispute"

02:23 UTC on 06/1/20 - Chris - "I have just deposited some funds, I verified I am using the correct link and it has my personal phrase but the Deposit is not showing despite 5+ Confirmations. If I browse to my BTC Balance page the Wallet Address has not updated either, so it looks like it has not picked up that anything has been sent to it. Hopefully it is just being slow and they can fix this, but just a heads up. Cheers"

Many users are reporting intermittent connections

DATA: Empire works better between 12AM-6AM UTC

08:35 UTC on 10/1/20 - From Reddit - "Got to say empire has been running very smooth last few days ever since the wee monkeys did their work in the background.. also dealt with lots of disputes and mostly in customers favour so think people need to slow down and have a look at it agian before all the negative vibes"

..Waiting on your report, please email in!

Empire Market was officially launched late January 2018we’ve now approached 2 years, very close to the average lifespan of a marketplace before bust or close.

The design, infrastructure and concept are similar to Alexandre Cazes's AlphaBay. The owner remains anonymous, however they launched the site "In memory of Alexandre Caze"
I'm writing about the procedure and data leaks behind AlphaBay within the next Decrypt episode.  It'll be very similar to how we covered Ross Ulbricht and Silk Road.

Alexandre Cazes (AlphaBay owner)

While Empire has not collapsed yet. It's evident they have issues.
Empire, until now have been one of the most stable markets, using clever rotation techniques and producing many new addresses, spinning servers to cope with demands and DDoS.

I applaud the staff efforts. Follow the live updates on Empire.

The login screen over at Empire - 5/1/2020

Empire have successfully integrated many unique features:
CC Autoshop - vendors upload their cards (with an optional built in checker) allowing buyers to verify the card is live upon purchase. If the card should die, the buyer will be refunded.
Lottery - purchase for a dollar, uses generated backhashes from Bitcoins blockchain to cleverly prevent duplicates (between 1-49)

These features have been implemented with usual 2FA, escrows and typical marketplace benefits.

They've just recently announced a referral program, which is interesting.

Our statistics show as of December the total listings were 58,000.

Things we know
– Scammers are mirroring links targeting users deposit
– Vendors are unable to now withdraw funds
– Intermittent DDoS Dec-Jan rendering the site useless
– Site staff not replying to users (Noted from early December)
– Previous to December staff were responsive to issues and tickets

Speculated Events
– Referral program initiated to create mass-registrations - Law Enforcement?
– Law Enforcement is actively investigating leads / vendors
– Staged DDoS for possible exit scam
– Law enforcement is targeting buyers; e.g posing as vendors

Some of the information within this video isn't factual. However, they did reference Tor encryption.  The cyber security expert mentions blocking ports as a method of shutting down the dark web, this is a bad representation from an expert.

Let's number crunch: my prediction is Empire will be closed within 3 months falling short of the typical 3 year lifespan of a dark web marketplace.

User and many vendors have already moved across to Apollon.

Further Reading

With everything considered, be vigilant.

Come say "HI"

Related articles
Simple guide: Tor Middle Relay
Host your own .onion site using nginx and Tor
Create a vanity .onion web address - learn how to import and export
Decrypt: Ross Ulbricht and Silk Road

Guide | Insight | Life | Linux | Tor