In a startling discovery, blockchain sleuth ZachXBT reported a significant movement of 4,800 Bitcoin (BTC), worth $144 million, originating from Abraxas, a defunct darknet marketplace that exit-scammed investors in 2015.
As per the report, the traced funds moved through crypto mixers to obscure the transactions.
Millions Worth of Abraxas Bitcoin Moved
According to Zach’s tweet, an entity transferred approximately 4,800 BTC ($144M) from the Abraxas darknet market, which exit-scammed in November 2015 after being inactive. Abraxas, a well-known digital marketplace on the Tor network, was notorious for facilitating illicit trade, including narcotics, hacking services, and counterfeit items.
An entity moved ~4800 BTC ($144M) originating from Abraxas darknet market which exit scammed in Nov 2015 after previously sitting dormant.
They consolidated funds and also deposited to a bitcoin mixer.
This graph shows an example of the movements from one of the addresses. pic.twitter.com/zVBSs6mrc4
— ZachXBT (@zachxbt) October 23, 2023
After its launch in December 2014, Abraxas met its demise in November 2015, resulting in a significant loss of Bitcoin for its users. By March 2016, all BTC in the market’s wallets had been removed. It was reported that Abraxas stole around 4,800 BTC, equivalent to approximately $1.85 million at the time, in the exit scam.
Although the stolen cryptocurrency remained dormant for several years, analysts have observed patterns of BTC movements originating from the platform.
ZachXBT shared a diagram illustrating the movement of funds from the initial wallet, originally held by Abraxas Market. According to the chart, the movement from one of the addresses started on October 26, 2015.
One of the wallets involved in the exit scam received about 49 BTC, and on May 3, 2023, the funds were transferred to another address. Subsequently, the funds were consolidated and sent through a Bitcoin mixer to obfuscate the transactions.
Following the downfall of Abraxas, many of its darknet users reportedly migrated to Alphabay, a platform seized in July 2017.
Darknet Markets Using Crypto and Mixer
For years, Darknet markets have been using cryptocurrency to facilitate payments. Silk Road, known as the first modern Darknet operated between 2011 and 2013, was famous for using crypto in transactional activities. Watchdogs have recovered billions worth of Bitcoin since its seizure in 2013.
The most recent platform associated with Darknet activity is Hydra Marketplace, which operated between 2020 and 2022.
Crypto mixers have been at the heart of most criminal undertakings associated with digital assets. For instance, U.S. watchdogs last year banned crypto mixer Tornado Cash for illegal schemes, including money laundering.