An $11.7 Million Robbery Just Ended The Internet’s Biggest Drug Marketplace
It sounds like the basis for a futuristic story – People can go to a mysterious site in the midst of the deep web where drug traffickers can trade freely and one can only access it with anonymous encryption software.
However, all was not to last as the site, Evolution, was shut down on the 17th March of this year. The site was not stopped by the police or any government agency, though. The users, for the most part, kept their Bitcoin (an online currency, worth actual money) on deposit in Evolution for future purchases. In a surprise turn of events the owners of the site Verto and Kimble turned on their users, closed down the site without warning and made off with nearly $12 million dollars in the users Bitcoin.
Until November of last year, a site called Silk Road dominated the illegal drugs trade on the deep web. It was founded on the principle of trust between the buyers and sellers. People could talk freely to the head of the site and there were little to no dangers of treachery.
Silk Road, however, was shut down by the FBI. This left a gap in the market. This gap was quickly filled by Evolution.
Evolution ran in much the same way as Silk Road and it was, seemingly, doing a much better job; being home to over 15,000 products in the end of 2014 alone. Which is a considerable amount more than its predecessor ever had.
What Evolution didn’t have, was a set of morals. Whilst Silk Road sold narcotics, fake ID’s, and a list of legal products, it prohibited the sale of child pornography, stolen credit cards, assassinations, and weapons. Evolution did not.
Evolution was performing beyond its remit and was one of the largest sites in the whole of the deep web. The site’s operators, known by their screen names Verto and Kimble, used the business to great effect. Evolution had more than 14,000 drug listings and 12,134 non-drug listings, including contract hackers and lethal weapons.
A user on Reddit, who goes by the name of NSWGreat and described himself as a seller, said this on the Reddit Deep Weep forum:
“I have admin access to see parts of the back end, the admins are preparing to exit scam with all the funds,” he explained. “I am so sorry, but Verto and Kimble have f**ked us all. I have over $20,000 in escrow myself from sales. I’m sorry for everyone’s losses, I’m gutted and speechless. I feel so betrayed.”
Director of Deep Web, Alex Winter, had this to say:
“You can’t cheat an honest man, the old logic goes. That’s especially true when comparing the libertarian-minded Silk Road (operated by a user known as Dread Pirate Roberts) and Evolution, which seemed to operate without a code of honour.
Evolution was always mercenary. The thing about Silk Road was that it was a trust-based system. With the Silk Road community you had Dread Pirate Roberts, with whom everyone was communicating and people knew his modus operandi. A lot of the people in the community are not a bit surprised that in this case they cut and ran.”
What will happen next is unclear. Supply and demand for contraband will persist as it always has and always will. Ex Users will likely move on to Agora which always operated in the shadows of Silk Road and Evolution.
The sad truth is that the colossal loss of money is unlikely to be the only punishment that buyers and sellers will face from their Evolution exploits. The trade of contraband, especially drugs and weapons, is a very volatile and, obviously, dangerous one with a dog-eat-dog mentality.
The chances are that there will be a lot of blood on the hands of Verto and Kimble who, due to the difficulty of tracing Bitcoin, may get away with their crimes indefinitely.
Tell us your thoughts in the comments.