The best known of the Deep Web marketplaces was undoubtedly Silk Road — the libertarian-tinged drugs free-for-all that Ross Ulbricht was convicted of running earlier this year. After Silk Road's closure in November 2013, there has been a concerted clampdown by global authorities on Deep Web drug vendors.
In November, a year to the day after Ulbricht was first arrested, a coalition of international law-enforcement groups swooped in on hundreds of Deep Web sites in Operation Onymous. The Silk Road successor Silk Road 2.0 was shut down, and alleged administrator Blake Benthall was arrested, along with more than a dozen others around the world.
Since then, Evolution grew to become one of the largest illicit marketplaces on the Deep Web. Whereas the original Silk Road's administrator Dread Pirate Roberts (Ulbricht, according to prosecutors) was outspokenly political, the Evolution administrator Verto is far more reserved, avoiding all publicity and press requests. Verto is also far more mercenary in his or her approach to business, previously operating a "carding" forum that helped facilitate identity theft. Verto is joined on Evolution by a second administrator, Kimble.
Police germany drugs deep web bust MDMA Polizei SachsenDrugs intended for sale on Evolution seized in a German police raid last week.
An Evolution volunteer moderator posted on Reddit on Tuesday night that "the admins are preparing to exit scam with all the funds" and that "not a single withdrawal has gone through in almost a week." Upon being confronted, the administrators "confirmed they are doing it right now," the person wrote, later adding that "yes, this is real, no this isn't maintenance."
It's difficult to estimate precisely how much bitcoin Verto and Kimble have made off with if this is a scam — though it's certain to be in the range of millions of dollars. Krebs, the security researcher, suggests it's more than $12 million. The staff member posting on Reddit alone claimed to have lost $20,000 worth of bitcoin as a result. To give an idea of scale, there were more than 20,000 separate product listings on the site.