As I have mentioned in my previous article about Russian communities and how they perceive the dark net, I will be interviewing the biggest names in the deep web trading to understand more about their growth strategy, security and ultimately creating a big ranking and comparison table that can be used as orientation to users based on marketplace features, fees, products interest, credibility, security (and others).
The reason why I chose AlphaBay as my first pick was that in my previous article , several Russian members were discussing where all of the fraud population went – AlphaBay. In addition, it was rumoured several big-time Russian vendors (of various products & services) were going to open up shops at AlphaBay and be part of possibly the first merge of English fraud community with its Russian counterpart under the roof of this marketplace.
I first want to thank a friend of mine, which I have known for many years, that knew alpha02 and provided me with direct contact information via Jabber (admin consent) that enabled me to conduct this interview. The person I’m interviewing today is the main administrator at AlphaBay – alpha02.
Bear in mind, timestamp was changed and the full jabber of the administrator was hidden and replaced with “alpha02”.
### Interview Start
Joshua G.: hey
Joshua G.: i was given your jabber, you are owner of alphabay?
alpha02: sure i am
Joshua G.: can you provide pgp signed text with the words “verification” so that we can get the interview going!
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG v1
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
Joshua G.: ok, confirmed.
Joshua G.: How was AlphaBay & its community affected by the exit scam that Evolution pulled off?
alpha02: A lot of reputable vendors and buyers were shocked that Evolution administration could do such a thing. But everyone knew, the trading must go on no matter what, so there was an influx of ex-Evolution members who after registering with us, are now happy to trade on our marketplace platform while enjoying the wide range of security and organizational features we have to offer.
alpha02: In the 3 days following the closure, we had 18,000 new registrations, 7,000 new forum posts, and around $300,000 in trading volume.
Joshua G.: What is your vision for AlphaBay? How do you see your market progress and grow in six to twelve months?
alpha02: We see ourselves at the top spot, since we already have everything it takes.
Joshua G.: What are the features that AlphaBay provides to its users?
alpha02: Multisig transactions (2/3), FE for verified vendors, regular Escrow, vacation mode, shared account access, fraud forums, bidding on auction-style items, search features everywhere, message sticking, and much more.
Joshua G.: What is the current personnel of AlphaBay? How many people are handling disputes?
alpha02: Me and 3 moderators.
Joshua G.: What kind of security is in place to protect buyers and vendors?
alpha02: The money remains in Escrow until the buyer finalizes or a moderator resolved the dispute. For FE orders, vendor have to pay 0.5% per order as guarantee in case of exit scam.
Joshua G.: Can you tell us a little bit more about how FE works on your market? Because it seems to solve core problem for orders with FE.
alpha02: Vendors must put a USD $300 guarantee deposit, and 0.5% per order is taken and put in a guarantee fund in case the vendor decides to exit scam. $300 is not enough because exit scams often span over a few days, therefore the percentage taken on orders is used to mitigate this issue. Vendors need to have at least 100 sales for a value of $5,000 before asking for FE, however we can waive this if the vendor has good experience on another market.
Joshua G.: Do you have any security staff available to answer user questions or respond to critical user findings related to the security of AlphaBay? Has AlphaBay software been tested for security holes?
alpha02: Yes, you can contact “DS” (acronyms only) if you have any questions in regards to security. After coding the marketplace and setting up the server alongside with its security, all software & infrastructure was thoroughly tested by “DS” as well as several other people. We have made sure to have created a stable & fast marketplace web application which has been built with security in mind right from the start. We are proud of the high level of security & strict security procedures we have here at AlphaBay. We would like to assure all of our users (both vendors & buyers) that their security, privacy and anonimity rank first place in our priorities list.
Joshua G.: A user named Couirvoisier was staff when I reviewed your market, now he is off the team. I’ve read several topics and most of the community were complaining of indecent judging of disputes by the ex-moderator. He became famous for his $1 uber accounts, were it all fake?
alpha02: Courvoisier is a good vendor and is selling legit stuff. His business was simply incompatible with moderation functions and could cause conflict of interest, so he will only be selling on the market.
Joshua G.: It seems you truly give power to the community – something rarely seen nowadays on any forum or marketplace. What other things have been done by user request?
alpha02: Without a community, the marketplace would not exist, so the community holds the true power. We implemented multisig, shared account access, and many other features that users requested. We want to have every imaginable possible feature to be the #1 market.
Joshua G.: You seem to implement all the right features needed by both vendors and users. How and did you mitigate the recent attacks on the Tor network where all dark net markets where down?
alpha02: We tried using alternate addresses, but there was not much we could do. The sales were terrible during those 4 days.
Joshua G.: Why did you decide to start such a community?
alpha02: I knew that I had a lot of people behind me because of my TCF expertize, so I thought it could be a good source of income, and also permit users to continue trading in case something happened to Evo (which happened).
Joshua G.: Are you not afraid of getting busted?
alpha02: I am not. I am absolutely certain that my opsec is secure, and I live in an offshore country where I am safe.
Joshua G.: Will the dark net community be seeing more projects of yours?
alpha02: I plan on expanding AlphaBay to offer more services, but that’s still to be determined.
Joshua G.: There were several rumours that Russian vendors will be offering their products on AlphaBay, is this true?
alpha02: Currently, I can’t give out much information. But what I can tell you is that we are trying to work with our Russian colleagues to enable each of us to enrich our base of vendors and buyers, which will lead to more opportunities for buyers and certainly increase the profits of Russian vendors while weeding out the ones that resell their information 3 or 4 times the amount they are purchasing it for.
Joshua G.: Do you agree with the dark net community claiming all carders and fraudsters are fakes?
alpha02: By fakes, you mean rippers? Yes, there are some rippers here and there as there are in any business – drugs, weapons, counterfeit items… but thanks to features like multi-signature and FE with deposit guarantee, buyers can be safe during transaction and make trading a hassle-free experience! As far as carders/fraudsters go, we do have honour and try to practice good business. Unfortunately, because of news around Evolution exit scam which enforced the public opinion, that because Verto and Kimble were carders, all carders are bad, sometimes people think of us the same without checking the facts first. No need to explain how we are different – come and see for yourself all of the security features we have at AlphaBay – multi-signature transactions, PGP 2FA, FE with deposit guarantee as well as functions not implemented anywhere else – auto-fill orders (perfect for fraud vendors), shared access feature that allows a team to work together. We are running a marketplace platform that offers ease of use, flexibility and high level of security for more than half a year.
Joshua G.: Personally, I’m excited about what you are going to bring next to the scene and how AlphaBay will continue to compete against places like Agora, Nucleus, BlackBank. Thanks for the interview & good luck.
### Interview End
I hope you have enjoyed reading the interview as much as I did doing it. Certainly, AlphaBay is an interesting market to watch and see how it will develop not only infrastructure-wise but as one big community too. Speaking of big communities, will other markets be implementing new features to respond to what the administration at AlphaBay has recently introduced? Stay tuned for next interviews that will reveal the answer to such questions and much more.