It appears that AlphaBay, the largest dark web marketplace, has paid an extortionist several payments since August 2016 to protect the identity of its founder.
Motherboard reported the extortionist claimed to have uncovered the identity, or dox, of AlphaBay founder Alpha02 and current employees of the site. It appears alphabaysupport, an official Reddit account for AlphaBay, may have paid 35 bitcoin ($45,000, £37,000) to the extortionist in February.
“In the past few months I have been tracing BigMuscles' and Raspi's online footprints in addition to what I previously had shown you and now have conclusive evidence pointing to their real life identities and whereabouts,” the extortionist wrote when referring to two AlphaBay staff members.
The bitcoin address allegedly used to transfer the funds was sent via a PGP encrypted message, leaving no verification that a payment took place.
“The amount the attacker asked for was reasonable so we paid, but once we paid, he said he wanted more,” alphabaysupport said to Motherboard. “We have a very strong policy of not paying an extortionist twice, so he is now making throwaway accounts and sending us proofs of his Jabber conversation with you in an effort to extort more coin from us. Now we are just ignoring him and we hope he will just get tired shortly.”
According to alphabaysupport, they paid the ransom on top of the threat of identification “to avoid a potential reddit shitstorm”.