“Well mates, I’m saddened to say goodbye…”
These were the first, last words from the founder of Project: Black Flag, MettaDPR. Project: Black Flag, a deepweb online marketplace, was reminiscent of the drug bazaar, Silk Road. At this time, Project: Black Flag has raised the white flag. The new Dread Pirate Roberts has uttered, “Abandon ship.”
However, in the act of jumping overboard yesterday morning, he seemed to have loaded his lifeboat with an untold sum of bitcoins, which are now valued against the USD at $202.7 to date. Some believe that he made off with pittance, but that is still yet to be determined. The founder of the deep web marketplace apparently funneled the site’s funds from escrow into his own account. As MettaDPR said farewell to his fellow shipmates on Oct 28, he wrote:
“Well mates, I am saddened to say goodbye. When I created P: BF, my intent was pure and I wanted to help the community. Several days ago I begin implementing code changes to freeze funds and dump them to myself. I was unable to cope with the stress and constant demand, so I panicked. I am sorry for my actions, but with the funds I gathered from the site, I will be able to keep myself from being homeless for the next several months. I will always remember those that made this possible.”
Of course, this action did not sit well with the other members of Project: Black Flag. One expletive-filled post after another on the site’s forum was not laden with warm farewells, but with threats, curses, and disdain for the site’s wayward founder. However, according to MettaDPR, it seems he will graciously be leaving the site intact for a couple more days:
“The forums will stay up for at least another week, though the market is being taken down within the hour. I take no offense at truth, I had great dreams for this community. I understand the depth of my failure.”
Nevertheless, despite MettaDPR’s apologetic departure and gracious accommodations, one forum member vowed to track him down. A mysterious individual known as iknoweverything posted:
“I know everything.
I know who you are. More specifically, I know your consumer IP address, your name, your age, and your place of birth. You have not configured your Tor correctly, by the way.”
Many see iknoweverything’s post as a possible attempt at fixing a shill in the lynch gang. In fact, some are even suspecting that iknoweverything may also be MettaDPR himself. After all, iknoweverything registered for the site on Oct 29, only a day after the captain willingly walked the plank. And of course lost all credibility after posting this:
In a post from crew member nancybotwin, the suspicion is that MettaDPR is attempting to calm the mob, especially since iknoweverything’s recent threats seemed to have been more of a bluff:
“He wants the community to feel like justice was served so that no one will initiate a witch hunt for him.”
While it is suspected that MettaDPR may have originally setup the site with ‘honest intentions’ –or at least as honest as the darknet can get– and simply grew overwhelmed with the task of running the project, the founder’s well-planned and orchestrated withdraw raises other flags.
For one, the timing of PBF’s creation and collapse seems rather opportune for a quick scam.
The fed’s seizure of Silk Road opened up a gaping hole in the supply for the demand of a darknet drug bazaar. Then, out of the blue, Project: Black Flag appears on the horizon. The site itself was created hastily, leading many in the deep web to feel as if something may have been off.
Suddenly, the Chinese search engine titan, Baidu begins accepting bitcoins as a form of payment. The price of bitcoins massively spikes in value, and then holds fast at around $200. Bitcoins, which is the accepted form of payment in these deep web marketplaces, tend to sustain massive swings in value. With bitcoins trading at such an unusually high price, MettaDPR may have felt as if the time was right for the scam to drop the anchor for good.
In merely 3 weeks of operation, MettaDPR might have made off with thousands of dollars in bitcoins, laughing all the way to the bank. The saying ‘easy money’ has taken a whole new definition.
Whether or not MettaDPR’s plan to run PBF aground was crafted from the very beginning of the project’s beginning, or it was simply a desperate exit strategy, it speaks volumes to the traitorous waters of the deep web. When dealing with pirates, expect the unexpected.
Only one solid advice was posted by a user that goes by the name of MrHankey (the Christmas Poo i guess :) :
With all these emerging new marketplaces i believe we have not seem the last of these dramas.