Online dark marketplace AlphaBay has been shut down in a sting operation reminiscent of the Silk Road takedown in 2013. The plot thickens as details emerge on the multimillion dollar operation. Despite cryptocurrencies being used, mainstream media remains diligent in pointing fingers.
Silk Road 2.0
Silk Road protégé Alphabay has gone offline after going ‘dark’ earlier this month. Users of the marketplace became unsettled of an exit scam as they lost access to their funds on the market earlier this month.
"The marketplace that became somewhat of Silk Road 2.0 was touted for the sale and purchase of confidential credit card information, drugs, fake passports and even weapons. However, it should be mentioned that not only contraband was traded on the market. Users could purchase anything from socks to t-shirts."
A coordinated effort in US, Canada and Thailand claims to have successfully taken down AlphaBay as of July 13. The Bangkok Post reports that the Canadian drug suspect Alexandre Cazes, allegedly one of the site’s operators, was found dead in his cell, believed to have hanged himself. Local police impounded four Lamborghinis and three houses belonging to the suspect.
"Nicolas Christine, associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University told WSJ that the daily sales ranged between $600,000 and $800,000."
Fresh in the memory of the cryptocurrency community, Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison in 2015. Many question the fairness in his trial as someone who simply opened the marketplace and did not trade illicit contraband himself.
Mainstream media has long used the darknet markets as a scapegoat for the anonymity, or rather pseudonymity of cryptocurrencies being a potentially dangerous.
Influential advocates such as Andreas Antonopoulos rightly point out that criminal activities can be funded just as well using dollars and euros.
"A recent example of money laundering and potential terrorist aid is FBME bank - now frozen and awaiting liquidation in both Cyprus and Tanzanian headquarters."
The ‘sin’ period of cryptocurrency seems to have come to an end as mainstream media and more importantly, traditional finance, are well underway to accepting cryptocurrency. Acceptance as an asset for investment and both as a means of technology in 2016-2017 are largely outweighing the previous negative connotations connected to Bitcoin just a few years ago.
This signals of a maturing market and acceptance as cryptocurrency continues onto the next frontiers of mass adoption and implementation.
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