The streak of graceful exits by some of the world’s most popular darknet markets has come to a close. Hope has faded that either Monopoly Market or Cartel Marketplace, which went offline within a few days of each other just before the new year, will return and resume business as usual. Theories abounded in social media communities as to why the markets went down, with many assuming the possibilities of exit scam or seizure being the most likely.
Monopoly Market, the better-known and more celebrated of the two, was believed to be a top-notch operation in terms of its security and design. It was popular for its streamlined approach to the order purchasing process and introduction of novel features not employed elsewhere.
Orders placed on or before Dec 27 were processed, according to vendors on Monopoly Market; after that date, access to the market became stifled before disappearing completely. Scores of Monopoly users flocked to the market’s page on Dread to voice their concerns; many of which were met by scathing retorts from an extremely enraged admin.
After performing damage control that involved vague promises of a gradual return, MonopolyOfficial, the market’s admin account on Dread, fell silent, leading to new rounds of speculation and the forum’s decision to close the thread.
“Scam? busted? Overdosed? We may never know what happened to /u/MonopolyOfficial,” said Dread moderator Shakybeats about the missing admin. “We may never know what happened to him.”
Monopoly was one of the oldest darknet markets still in operation at the time of its shutdown, having been in operation since July 2019. It was hailed for being innovative as far as supporting direct payments and Monero was concerned. Cartel Marketplace was newer market, opening for business in the spring of 2020. Unlike Monopoly, it was plagued by technical and security problems over the course of its existence.
The two markets were vastly different in terms of the products they offered. Monopoly was a drugs-only darknet market that banned the sale of all digital goods; whereas Cartel was heavy on digital items and had earned a notorious reputation for selling stolen data. There is no known connection between the two markets.