Top Dark Web Drug Market Might Have Just Stolen Everyone’s Money

Mar 18, 2015 at 9:57 AM ET

The biggest remaining dark net drug market just shut down, taking with it millions of dollars of users’ cash in bitcoin. Evolution, which grew to prominence in the aftermath of Silk Road’s takedown, has mysteriously closed, with the funds removed from users’ hot wallet accounts (a way of storing bitcoin for easy, if risky, access). Users are panicked over rumors  that the site’s two anonymous operators, “Verto” and “Kimble”, have made off with everyone’s money.

Late Tuesday night, a user claiming to be “Verto” posted Reddit a vague explanation to Reddit for the takedown of Evolution:

Due to unforseen events I decided to close down Evolution Marketplace. We want to thank you guys for you effort and help making this the most profitable and popular marketplace. This wasn’t an easy decision but due to other marketplaces getting shut down and the forum going downhill I decided to cut my ties and exit with an eight figure profit. The millions from evo will be divided up amongst the mods a few admin and members. Since this is such an abundance of money I may consider buy ins from former evo members in exchange for 1k bitcoinis. I’ll be around around for a short period of time before permanently moving to the caribbeans, I hope you guys understand.

His identity can’t be verified, but other users confirmed the scam was likely underway and warned others to flee. Experts believe authorities could seize millions or tens of millions of dollars worth of bitcoin from the site.

The Evolution site hosted 20,000 drug product listings at the time it began to periodically shut down this week. U.S. users are likely to be hardest hit–a previous Vocativ exploration of online drug markets show that American users top the rankings in drug sales online.