After more than five years of business, Dream is preparing to close its doors. The darknet marketplace (DNM) will shut up shop within a month, before relaunching under a new name and onion domain. The move has caused jitters within the darknet community, with buyers seeking reassurances that the site hasn’t been compromised by law enforcement.
In the post-Silk Road era, Dream has came to be known as the darknet’s most reliable marketplace, both in terms of uptime and vendor reputation. It appeared to be impervious from law enforcement and from hackers seeking to extort money from the marketplace. In the last few weeks, however, Dream has suffered from intermittent service, with a determined DDoSer knocking the site offline. In a post shared on Reddit-like darknet forum Dread, Dream admins explained they were being extorted for $400K by the DDoSer, who has persisted with his attack for the past seven weeks.
Urging everyone to ignore the FUD suggesting the site had been compromised by law enforcement, Dream admins promised that the new-look market will be “as good as Dream.” As an infographic by the EU Drugs Agency shows, the number of scammy darknet markets has vastly exceeded the number of legitimate ones over the years. The loss of Dream has been hard to stomach for users, even if its replacement is promised to be every bit as good. Many customers rushed to withdraw their funds from Dream following the announcement, only to find the site had been knocked offline again, with pages loading sporadically.
The uncertainty over Dream’s impending closure has proved a boon to other DNMs, which have enjoyed an influx of buyers and vendors. Wall Street Market appears to have been the prime beneficiary; Point marketplace, meanwhile, has been suffering from its own bout of downtime. “I’m heartbroken,” wrote one Redditor in reaction to news of the darknet’s largest marketplace shutting shop. “I exclusively use Dream and it has never let me down.”
TMG has closed for registration while the whole Dream thing gets sorted out. The Hub has still not come back online. It’s lights off in the dark web at the moment pic.twitter.com/QBCOt1Atf3
— Eileen Ormsby (the Darkest Web) (@EileenOrmsby) March 28, 2019
While Wall Street accepts BTC and XMR, Dream is powered by the two bitcoins – BTC and BCH. It is unclear whether its successor will retain the same format, both in terms of digital assets and wares. It’s also unclear how the move to a new onion domain will mitigate the DDoS attacks that have plagued the DNM of late. Buyers, many of whom use darknet markets to purchase narcotics, recall the time when law enforcement shut down Alphabay and then funneled users to Hansa, which they had also compromised. The latter served as a honeypot, and significantly increased the number of arrests while decreasing trust in the darknet’s opaque ecosystem.
There is nothing to suggest that Dream has been compromised, but until such a time as its replacement can launch successfully and rebuild trust, speculation will continue to mount. Will the domain earmarked for the rebranded Dream – weroidjkazxqds2l.onion – show the logo of the brand new darknet market leader when it launches? Or will it, as Silk Road did on the day of Ross Ulbricht’s arrest, show the logo of the Federal Bureau of Investigation? The DNM community shouldn’t have to wait long to find out.
What are your thoughts on Dream’s closure? Let us know in the comments section below.
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