Dark Web Drug Vendors Locked Out of Their Accounts, Say They've Been Hacked

Just another day on the dark web.

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Jul 21 2015, 7:48pm

Image: Flickr/Katherine Hitt

Nucleus, a popular darknet market where people can buy drugs and other illicit goods using Bitcoin, may have just been hacked. Numerous vendors on the site are reporting that they've been locked out of their accounts and their wallets are being drained of their funds.

Such a scheme wouldn't come as a shock. Markets on the darknet have a long and storied history of being targets for hacks and "exit scams," when an anonymous administrator abuses their access to everyone's funds and makes off with all the money.

Right now, the Nucleus forums' section for discussing possible scams is filled with vendors announcing that they've been hacked, their passwords changed, and their money stolen. Many of the vendor posts warn users to stop placing orders with them on Nucleus and find them elsewhere on the darknet.

Screengrab: Nucleus

"A very strong password, bookmark, [two factor authentication], and PIN were used. Privacy settings set very high with JavaScript disabled. No phishing link," wrote a vendor named HonestCocaine in a thread in Nucleus' tech support area. "The account balance has just been withdrawn from my nucleus wallet twice. Either the site is compromised or exit scamming."

Another vendor, FromAmsterdam, simply wrote, "We have been hacked!!"

Screengrab: Nucleus

HonestCocaine then listed posted the address of the Bitcoin wallet his funds were siphoned to. Although the funds have since been moved from that wallet, at its height it held more than 205 bitcoins—roughly $74,481 by today's bitcoin-to-USD exchange rate. In another thread, a user posted the same wallet address, claimed to be the owner, and requested that a bounty be paid to him in order to fix the site's issues.

As of now, it's not really clear what, exactly, is happening over at Nucleus. Whether this is a hack or a scam on the part of the market administrators—or anything at all—remains to be seen, and for now most observers seem to be speculating while vendors continue to report hacked accounts.

So far, eight vendors have publicly announced that they've been hacked on Nucleus, and several have come forward on Reddit to warn users not to play orders on the site. The market, as well as its forum, are still up and running.