The Death of the White House Market Will Destroy the Dark Web

Maybe you haven’t heard at the White House Market. It can’t be found on Google. Its sellers are less likely to advertise. Some public website references are on Reddit forums or special tech blogs. But among users of dark web, WHM has been, for years, the go -to online market for illegal drugs and fraudulent credit cards.

Even before reaching the highest trading volume of its more famous cousins Silk Road and AlphaBay, White House Market has established itself as one of the most popular — and safe — markets on the dark web. So with the unexpected closure of WHM on October 1, it was a shock to the platform’s dedicated user base.

A one-page release letter to the site was brief on the details, stating that the White House Market “achieved our goal” and that “now, as planned,” the site is closing.

“Thank you all for your business, trust, support and of course for putting a decent amount of money in our pockets,” the letter read. “We may come back in the future with a different project or not.” The letter was signed by WHM’s lead administrator, who is known only by his online handle, “mr_white.”

At the time of its closure, the platform had nearly 900,000 users, of which more than a third — nearly 326,000 — were active. Like other dark web markets, it can only be accessed by anonymous browsers such as Tor and i2p. According to its announced numbers, the White House Market has about 3,000 vendors, whose lists include credit card and bank fraud, fake documents, illegal and prescription drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy, opioids such as heroin and oxycodone, hallucinogenic drugs including ketamine and PCP, cocaine, steroids, and amphetamine or meth.

That last list fits the theme of the site, featuring Walter White from Breaking Bad on the banner. But unlike Walter White’s fictional operation, it has a global presence, with vendors and buyers located around the world, even though most transactions are done in English.

On Tuesday, less than a month after the White House Market ceased operations, the Department of Justice said Office has partnered the results in Operation Dark HunTor — a comprehensive, international dark web removal resulting in 150 arrests, along with the seizure of weapons, drugs, and more than $ 31 million in cryptocurrency and cash. A select few of the dark-net vendor accounts were identified as being from the White House Market, according to court documents. Whether WHM and its administrators are under ongoing criminal investigation is an open question.

It’s unclear how much money the WHM founders have made since the site launched in August 2019, but they charge a 4 percent commission on all sales through an almost untraceable cryptocurrency called Monero. Nicolas Christin, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University whose research focuses on online crime modeling, security economics, and cryptocurrency, estimates that the White House Market generated at least $ 35 million in sales, meaning take-home pay of administrators may be at least. $ 1.3 million over the past two years.

In the high end, Christin estimates, sales could reach $ 120 million, meaning the site admins went away with nearly $ 5 million.

The White House Market is also known for exceptional digital security, reliable customer service, and, perhaps ironically, its ethics: It does not allow vendors to sell child pornography, offer murder for rent. , or selling weapons, explosives, or poison.

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