Several vendors who operated on the former Versus marketplace are taking to the Dread darknet market forum to lodge complaints about not receiving order payments promised by the market’s admin, who went by the name ‘William Gibson’. The admin had kept in contact with his users after deciding to take his market down in May when a security exploit was made public on Dread, promising to sign messages for Bitcoin funds placed in multisignature escrow orders. These messages could then be co-signed by the vendor, which when broadcast would trigger release of the funds.
While William Gibson apparently lived up to part of the promise, not all vendors have been made whole, and seemingly little-to-no Monero funds have been disbursed. This has prompted calls from the community to reclassify Versus’ closure on Dread from “retirement” to “exit scam.”
“There’s been no word from u/WilliamGibson in over 2 weeks and many vendors and buyers had a substantial amount in escrow that they never received,” wrote one disgruntled vendor in the DarkNetMarkets subdread. “I personally saw the funds disappear from my escrow wallet a couple weeks ago and no explanation why I didn’t get the refund, I’ve messaged other buyers and trusted vendors and they are saying the same thing,” they added.
Screenshot of the Versus subdread with William Gibson’s final message pinned to the top.
Since Versus market did provide a Bitcoin multisignature option for payment, several vendors were able to withdraw outstanding funds by obtaining a signature from either the buyer or market admins. Also included, according to William Gibson, were refund transactions to reimburse buyers for non-accepted orders. Vendors had little way of knowing which transactions were for completed orders as opposed to refunds, which would act as incentive for them to simply sign all transactions they were presented.
One vendor reported having 116 transactions available made available through a special site created for Versus vendors. “Every transaction that was signed was a completed order that was marked shipped,” they reported. “I know that because every single transaction hit my wallet once it was signed, which means it wasn’t a refund.”
Around June 17th, William Gibson made a final post to the Versus subdread in which he provided the Tor URL for order payment signatures, accessible to vendors only. Here he provided the signed transactions that vendors could use to release their funds trapped in the market upon its closure. At the end of his message, which took jabs at another market admin for failing to “help” him “by implementing the transaction into his little market,” he parted his subdread with words of warning: “And don’t forget. Give multisig a chance. Don’t trust central escrow.”