Dark0de: 2021’s Darknet Market Leader
On October 1st, 2021, White House Market, the biggest Darknet Market (DNM) at the time, announced its retirement from the darknet market scene on Dread. Since then, there has been some speculation as to which market will take the number one spot.
Let’s look at what the current darknet market ecosystem looks like:
Largest markets by number of listings
Here is a chart representing the total number of listings, all categories included, on darknet markets as of November 17th, 2021.
At the time of its retirement, White House Market had 48,679 active listings on its website. Since then, it appears Dark0de grabbed the #1 spot, with an impressive 69,103 active listings.
However, back in 2017, AlphaBay, the biggest market at the time, had a mind-boggling 369,000 listings! This apparent decrease in total listings could be due to a lot of different factors:
- Increased Law Enforcement involvement in the DNM scene (for example, the fall of the Cyber Bunker in September 2019, or the seizure of DarkMarket in January 2021);
- The increasing frequency (some would even say normalization) of exit scams;
- Tighter control on illicit communities (for example, Reddit banning /r/DarkNetMarkets in March 2018)
The exact reasons for the decrease in total listings are hard if not impossible to pinpoint.
Largest markets by number of fraud listings
As for fraud-related listings (including, but not limited to; fraud methods; bank account logins; stolen identities; counterfeit money; etc.), the order does vary ever so slightly, Dark0de however keeps its crown.
An increase in number of active markets
If you ignore the markets that only allow for the sale of illicit drugs, there are still 32 darknet markets currently operating! In the last year, it seems like new markets are opening for business every month, each promising better security, or trying to make it big with a new gimmick. We’ve noticed an increasing number of markets also hosting a forum section on their website, encouraging product and vendor reviews, as well as generating discussion around various fraud “methods”.
Liberty Market Activity Hints to Exit Scam
It is worth noting that we omitted Liberty Market from our data analysis, simply because they might currently be exit scamming; all their mirrors are offline and admins unresponsive. Oddly enough, on September 27th, 2021, the Liberty Market administration team did announce a retirement plan for their market, to finalize all orders by October 8th and shutting down the servers on October 10th.
However, after White House Market, in turn, announced their retirement on October 1st, Liberty’s administration appeared to have changed their mind, and announced they will not be shutting down, and were instead offering free “vendor bonds” to White House Market vendors; a frequent tactic used by market admins to drive traffic to their market. Liberty Market administrators stated slow growth as the reason for their shutdown, quoting “Liberty as of right now has a small but decently sized business”. Indeed, according to Flare Systems records, we estimate Liberty market to have had about 20,000 active listings, which places Liberty comfortably in the top 10 markets by volume.
Needless to say, their sudden disappearance on November 16th does not look good, but we’ll keep monitoring how the situation evolves.One thing is for sure, it will be interesting to see how the Darknet Market ecosystem develops. Will Dark0de remain at the top? Will AlphaBay claw it’s way back to the elusive #1 spot? Which market will exit scam next? In any case, Flare will continue to ensure that you’re up to date on all the new developments on the dark web and darknet markets.