Ransomware

Incognito Market Exit Scam: Pharoah’s Extortion Plan

In the case of the , many users reported delays in withdrawals, with misleading transaction IDs being provided by the marketplace.

by Ashish Khaitan March 12, 2024 in Dark Web News, Firewall Daily Reading Time: 3 mins read 0

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Hidden marketplaces on the dark web have long been a staple for those seeking to engage in illicit transactions. Since their emergence on platforms like Tor and I2P in 2011, these marketplaces have offered a one-stop shop for buyers and sellers, facilitated by the anonymity of cryptocurrency payments.

However, one consistent theme among these hidden markets is their fleeting existence, often ending abruptly due to hacks, busts, or the dreaded “exit scam.”

Among the recent cases of such scams is incognito market extortion spree, uncovered by DarkDotFail, an anonymous independent journalist. The scam's exit strategy has raised industry-wide attention due to its brazenness and the size of transactional data it holds. 

The Incognito Market exit scam took a lot of twists and turns as the saga began on February 19th, with Bitcoin transactions suddenly ceasing on the platform. Although the issue was resolved at that time, it was an indicator of a large-scale fully-planned extortion scam. 

The signs were there, subtle at first, as users reported delays in withdrawals and misleading transaction IDs. But as DarkDotFail reported, a pattern emerges: a calculated betrayal, masked by false promises and technical glitches. Prior to the revelation, the market's administrators expanded their reach, purchasing news sites and announcing support for new cryptocurrencies, lulling users into a false sense of security.

The Incognito Market Exit Scam: The Extortion Plan No One Saw Coming

Source: DarkDotFail on X

Exit scams, a common phenomenon in the dark web ecosystem, involve marketplace administrators fleeing with users' funds, leaving behind a trail of disillusioned customers and vendors.

The modus operandi typically involves building trust within the community, particularly in the escrow services that hold funds until transactions are completed. Once a substantial sum accumulates in escrow, administrators vanish, leaving users high and dry.

In the case of the Incognito Market exit scam, DarkDotFail highlighted, that many users reported delays in withdrawals, with misleading transaction IDs being provided by the marketplace. Typical excuses were reported from the Incognito's staff, ranging from technical glitches to fee management issues.

Source: DarkDotFail on X

Moreover, prior to revealing the scam, Incognito Market announced that it will support ETH and DAI and purchased the news site Darknetlive. Later on, the withdraws stopped working for BTC and other cryptocurrencies with staff members not logging into their accounts.

The climax came with a message greeting vendors upon logging in, hinting at the market's exit plan and threatening to expose users' private information.

Decoding Pharoah's Scam: From Dark Web Haven to Extortion Nightmare

Administer Pharoah's explanation of the situation labeled the entire operation as extortion. In a brazen act, Incognito's administrators confirmed their intention to release a trove of sensitive data, including transaction details and order information. Vendors were left with a dire ultimatum: pay exorbitant fees to safeguard their identities or risk exposure.

The threat actor's post revealed the extent of their control, boasting of accumulated private messages, transaction info, and order details over the years. The announcement that data supposedly deleted remained intact heightened the stakes.

The threat of law enforcement involvement loomed large as Incognito's administrators announced their plans to publish a dump of over 557k orders and 862k crypto transaction IDs by the end of May.

Additionally, the Incognito Market exit scam scheme took a new turn as buyers were offered a chance to remove their records through a whitelist portal, hinting at a semblance of redemption amidst the chaos. However, the looming deadline of April 1st, when prices were set to double, added urgency to the situation.

DarkDotFail's investigation exposes the extent of the threat, from accumulated private messages to transaction details and order information. The specter of law enforcement involvement only adds to the sense of dread, as the deadline for the release of sensitive data draws near.

The Incognito Market exit scam represents more than just a betrayal of trust—it's a wake-up call to the users of dark web. And as the investigation unfolds, one thing becomes clear: in the digital underworld, no one is safe from the grasp of extortion and deceit.

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