Bohemia Market, one of the largest dark web marketplaces, is suspected to be running an “exit scam”
After the abrupt closure of a certain dark web marketplace, Bohemia Market has emerged as one of the larger darknet trading platforms. After two months of tracking by "ODN", there are indications that Bohemia Market might be opting for an "exit scam".
As early as October 13, dark.fail (@DarkDotFail) tweeted that discussions about Bohemia Market's exit scam have been circulating, but their staff continues to respond to posts on the Dread forum. Thus, it appears more like a case of suffering a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, and @DarkDotFail mentioned they are attempting to verify this.
On the same day, Bohemia Market's administrator, BohemiaNorth, shared a new "emergency link" on the Dread forum, accompanied by their PGP signature, authenticating the user, partially dispelling doubts among users. Many believed the market was indeed under a DDoS attack. The new link provided in the announcement is: http://qdyakadgrj73zeyv45aff6n4s2see565vdbfkfe7u54qmdmerzpisoqd.onion
However, over the following month, an increasing number of users reported difficulties withdrawing funds, leading to numerous complaints on the Dread forum.
On October 31, Dark Web Informer (@DarkWebInformer) tweeted a warning, stating that Bohemia Market is currently experiencing withdrawal and login issues, with no response from the market staff. This appears to be an ongoing exit scam.
Subsequently, Dark Web Informer (@DarkWebInformer) released another tweet update, stating that although Bohemia Market is accessible again, some vendors and non-vendors are still encountering withdrawal issues with BTC and XMR. Caution is advised when using this market, as an exit scam could happen at any time.
On November 12, HugBunter, the administrator of the Dread forum, posted an announcement regarding the "PSA: Bohemia on-going issues", with the content yet to be revealed.
This warning probably should have been more apparent on Dread weeks ago, although I wasn't here to handle it. This post will stay as a site-wide announcement, until issues are reasonably solved.
As of right now, Bohemia is still experiencing some serious issues with their Withdrawals, while the rest of the site remains functional, which means of course, money is going in and not all of it is making it back out.
Now, usually this is a sign of an exit scam and that becomes clear pretty quickly, but with how long this has been going on and with a lot of reports of large amounts of money making it back to vendors, it could go either way.
I think it is justified right now to put out this warning, so at the very least users are wary of it, but I do believe Bohemia is attempting to rectify everything.
Across Dread you can find many posts regarding missing or failed withdrawals from the market, but there is seemingly just as many posts stating they were able to retrieve their funds, it would be great if users could leave a comment below with their own experience so we can see the scope of the problems at hand.
The other worries I've had here is that there have been multiple reports from vendors that their accounts were locked out of the market and yet still continuing to take orders. One of these was explained by /u/BohemiaNorth earlier today as being due to the vendor's pgp key expiring, I haven't confirmed whether that is true and its not the only report I've had of this happening.
I can't personally call this an exit scam at this point in time, but the worries equate to similar situations in the past where a market has exited, so there are obvious reasons why someone would believe that to be the case.
My own theory as to what has happened here, based on info I've received and the issues that we are seeing, is that there is a chance that the market's wallet was drained at some point due to a bug or similar. It would explain the withdrawal issues and means that the market is processing withdrawals as and when deposits are made to try and recover over time. While this isn't great, if that is the case, then they could and probably would have ran with whatever they could by now, however, as I said, it seems they are trying to make good and continue the market. Bare in mind, this is my own speculation too.
I have tried to reach the Admin, who is usually very responsive with me and have yet to hear anything, although BohemiaNorth passed on the message. I will update this post if and when he does, or with any new info.
On November 14, Dark Web Informer (@DarkWebInformer) provided another tweet update, stating, "One of the largest darknet trading platforms, Bohemia Market, still has withdrawal problems. Remember, such markets can implement exit scams at any time!"
On November 15, dark.fail (@DarkDotFail) also issued an alert on Twitter, stating that Bohemia Market is delaying most fund withdrawals, appearing to be a Ponzi scheme. The administrator of the Dread forum speculated that their wallets have been emptied, and they are trying to salvage the situation by selectively allowing users with complaints to withdraw funds. Additionally, their administrator, M00nkey, has gone offline.
On November 18, HugBunter posted a topic titled "WARNING: Bohemia issues - Mega thread" and mentioned that, for user safety, he has locked the Bohemia sub-topic until the situation becomes clear and issues persist, preventing further posts and making warnings more apparent for users who might have missed announcements. He stated that he has been in contact with the administrators of Bohemia Market, and they have promised to release a "completely transparent announcement" on November 19.
On November 19, Bohemia Market's administrator, Bohemia, posted a lengthy topic on the Dread forum titled "What's Happened vs What's Happening" which detailed that their lead developer had stolen users' bitcoins, leaving a significant hole they need to fill. They promised compensation and the discontinuation of Bitcoin in favor of compensation in Monero. However, users raised extensive questions and doubts under the topic, questioning how long the compensation action would take.
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We kindly request that the following announcement is read with an open mind and level of understanding.
There's no secret that things have been a little bumpy recently, and it's important for us to remain transparent and honest with the community who we cherish so much, because without you - we are nothing.
In a shameful and disgruntled set of events, our lead developer quite simply decided to go "rogue" and choose their own path by slowly and passively withdrawing small amounts of BTC over a prolonged period of time from several accounts which had been pre-created and loaded with small BTC balances. This activity (to our knowledge after concluding our investigations, lasted for a little over a month).
Once the activity in question was brought to light and subsequently admitted by this particular developer, they were instantly terminated from the site and all operations thereafter. What we didn't know at this time was that several other accounts had been pre-created by this individual and again loaded with false BTC balances from within the database, of which the credentials were evidently retained as the accounts were accessed and emptied shortly after their departure, which triggered new security measures we had already implemented for accounts making withdraws without prior deposit / order history (as there's no plausible way for their balance to exist) . The amounts were not incredibly substantial but it did warrant an injection of funds into the site to help mitigate the losses at hand.
This chain of events, coupled with the recent price increase of BTC has been an extremely difficult situation to manage to say the least, which is the sole and primary reason why withdraws have been taking a little longer to process (hence why we've taken the necessary steps to stagger withdrawals and implement a daily withdraw limit to help balance things out). We have been processing withdrawals as quick as feasibly possible without unintentionally sinking the ship.
As mentioned by /u/HugBunter in his concerning yet completely warranted announcement post, vendors and users alike have reported that they have received their withdraws even if they've had to wait a little. Hopefully this will provide some clarity to the situation and that we are categorically NOT going anywhere.
We have been established for some time now and this is not the end of the road (not for us anyway). And we speak directly to every individual who may read this post that if your faith and trust for us has now been tarnished then we are wholeheartedly sorry for that and you will not be forced or persuaded to stick with us.
Here is our plan moving forward, and we only deem it fair that we give you all the full transparency on our future together as a community:
First and foremost, FUNDS ARE SAFE, and everybody who is due will be made whole, bare this in mind before reading the following;
- - We have collectively decided that disabling the use of BTC for a short period of time is the best course of action. This is solely to clear the queue of outstanding withdraws and dormant balances with a view to re-enabling BTC as soon as the above has been fulfilled.
- - All current BTC balances will remain untouched and outstanding withdraws will be cancelled and returned to the users balance. Once this has happened, all users will be given two options:
Option 1) To exchange their BTC to XMR on site (like for like as per the set fiat currency on their account at the time of exchange) whilst BTC is disabled. For example; if you hold 1 BTC on the platform, you will receive the fiat equivalent in XMR, this balance will then be ready for withdraw / spending.
Option 2) Continue to wait for the re-implementation of BTC and withdraw their BTC balance when this happens.
Once BTC has been disabled on site, any and all associated BTC deposit addresses (old and new) will be obsolete. So please do not deposit as we cannot be held responsible for any missing funds once BTC has been disabled.
** THE ABOVE PLAN WILL BE IMPLEMENTED WITHIN THE NEXT 48 HOURS AND A SITE WIDE ANNOUNCEMENT AND DREAD ANNOUNCEMENT WILL BE PUBLISHED AT THIS TIME **
Please know that this has not been an easy decision to make, but more of a reasonable plan of action to rectify the mess left behind by the developer mentioned above.
At this stage we feel that this is the best option moving forward as we're unsure which way the value of BTC is going to go with the upcoming ETF decisions within the next two months, it could counteract and really put things underwater, but we thought it be most respectable to provide a temporary solution and utmost clarity.
He took from us all, but regardless of how you may feel after reading this, we love you all and we will see this through.
- - The Bohemia Team
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Bohemia Market was launched in May 2021 as a drug trading platform for cannabis enthusiasts, but over time, its influence expanded into counterfeit documents and currency. Users could also find topics related to vulnerabilities and malicious software. After the closures of AlphaBay Market, ASAP Market, and Tor2Door Market, a large influx of users turned to Bohemia Market, making it one of the largest dark web trading platforms.
Whether Bohemia Market is indeed an "exit scam", if users' funds will be returned, "ODN" will continue to monitor the situation.
For more updates on the dark web, follow "ODN".
From：On DarkNet – Dark Web News and Analysis
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