Dream Market reportedly seized by law enforcement
After AlphaBay and Hansa there are glooming reports that Dream Market is under the control of law enforcement as well, after IP address of Dream Market was exposed.
On July 20 Europol announced the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Dutch National Police, with the support of Europol, have cooperated on a massive investigation aimed at shutting down AlphaBay and Hansa. Now rumors are spreading that the third largest illegal dark web marketplace, Dream Market, has also been compromised by law enforcement.
Concerned Redditors have discovered a non-encrypted IP address in Dream’s source code, which many users are interpreting as a sign that authorities might have taken over control of the market and are now actively monitoring the platform, the same way they did with Hansa Market for about a month.
While the claims are not verified by more reliable sources, the moderators of the underground Reddit community have already backed up the suspicion of the original poster.
In the meantime, users are still debating whether the concern is indeed validated. According to several posters, the visible IP in the source code has been there for at least nine months.
We traced back IP address 18.104.22.168 and found out that it is owned by Loopia AB, Swedens largest hosting provider.
However, some concerned users are arguing that, regardless of the date, displaying an IP address publicly, which is supposed to be hidden behind Tor, is not an expected behavior for any dark web website. As the more paranoid participants of the discussion have pointed out, plain mistakes like these have often led the way to the closure of other popular illegal dark web markets in the past.
It is a matter of fact, that publicly available IP addresses are a vulnerability that leaves Dream Market servers worryingly exposed. This makes it as easy as pie for law enforcement to locate the servers and gain full control of them without the knowledge of vendors and buyers.
The Dutch National Police employed exactly the same strategy to take over Hansa Market on June 20.
What makes Dream a perfect target for authorities is that, in the absence of AlphaBay and Hansa, dark web drug vendors and buyers are most likely to migrate to Dream Market, previously considered as the second largest dark web market after AlphaBay.
For better understanding, Dutch Police reported that following the shutdown of AlphaBay, Hansa saw an eight-fold increase in daily active vendors: from 1,000 to 8,000. The same pattern is likely to repeat in the case of Dream Market.
More than a week before the news that Hansa has been taken over by the Dutch Police broke, a Redditor going by the handle luckyduckquack posted a thread warning users against this possibility: Nobody paid attention, some users laughed at him, others mocked him, until it was already too late.
Yesterday luckyduckquack was back with another warning:
Shall we trust the messenger this time around?