Darknet markets saw crypto revenues rise in 2023 despite global crackdown

Although darknet markets are far from 2021 levels, their crypto revenue has slightly rebounded since Hydra’s closure in 2022, analysts found.

Darknet markets continue to show signs of recovery as their crypto revenue saw a rise in 2023 despite the sizable Hydra marketplace close in 2022. According to data published by blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis, fraud shops and darknet marketplaces saw their revenue increase to nearly $2 billion in 2023, up nearly 25% from figures for 2022.

Darknet crypto revenue | Source: Chainalysis

Following the shutdown of the Hydra marketplace, cybercriminals wasted no time in filling the void, with the emergence of two new darknet marketplaces aggressively promoting their services in Moscow, as noted by Chainalysis.

“While the darknet market ecosystem showed signs of recovery in 2023, it has yet to return to the revenues it experienced before the Hydra Marketplace closure in 2022, given the financial success of that operation.” Chainalysis

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The data reveals that one of the newly established marketplaces recorded “over half a billion in crypto inflows” in 2023, demonstrating a growing demand for illicit services such as money laundering, ransomware, and malware attacks despite global law enforcement efforts.

However, the New York-headquartered firm notes that despite these developments, no other darknet market has emerged as the main platform offering a wide range of illicit products, saying that the ecosystem “has yet to witness the emergence of a dominant player.”

In mid-March, reported that Roman Sterlingov, the founder of crypto mixing service Bitcoin Fog, was found guilty by a federal court of laundering money linked to illicit drug sales on the dark web. The prosecution argued that Bitcoin Fog played a crucial role in concealing over $400 million in transactions, with $78 million directly associated with major darknet marketplaces.

Read more: Monopoly darknet market admin indicted in US


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