Atlantis: The Brazen Bitcoin Black Market that Put “HoneyPot” on Everyone’s Lips.

Charlie the spokesperson for Atlantis illegal market

If lurking in the shadows equals legitimacy, then is Atlantis’ brazen publicity a signal it’s a giant honeypot scam?

In the encrypted world of tor, a black market exists in the comfort of your own living room. Since 2011, The Silk Road was the only game in town. An illegal bazaar filled mostly with drugs, all sold anonymously through the exchange of Bitcoins for product. It emerged quietly, secretly and relied on word of mouth to get the location out.  Since then a few competitors have creeped on the Silk Road’s turf, but none have introduced themselves to the public as aggressively as Atlantis.

The service openly advertised its marketplace yesterday with the launch of a squeaky clean ad. With upbeat music, a fun font and a character-driven plotline – it’s a unmistakable video that looks like any other startup ad. You would have no clue it was selling drugs… until you watched it and realize “Charlie” “can’t find any dank buds” until he found Atlantis and now he’s “high as a kite.”

Halleloo.

…Law enforcement is going to be aware of us (and probably already is) regardless of the way we choose to put our product out there…
According to Vladimir and Loera, the executives behind Atlantis, the marketplace’s advertising push may appear to be heatscore, but they say, “We want to bring attention to the site and bring our vendors more buyers. Law enforcement is going to be aware of us (and probably already is) regardless of the way we choose to put our product out there.”

Beyond the video on YouTube, Vladimir and Loera are actively promoting their site and have been since its launch in March. This is what’s making potential buyers uncomfortable. Without the usual secrecy, the executives are hosting reddit AMAs, conducting interviews with blogs and newspapers, posting on Twitter and of course commenting on their YouTube video. They’re currently advertising for an online marketer to join their team. This is a lot of “in your face” marketing for a site that primarily deals in illegal substances.

Charlie looks like a date rapist.

Charlie looks like a date rapist.

With Silk Road being the gold standard of illegal marketplaces and they experience lag, down time due to DDoS attacks and today’s announcement of DEA seizing 11 Bitcoins from a Silk Road Dealer makes it seem credible – albeit increasingly insecure. So when Atlantis appears with a better designed site, faster response times, overnight delivery and the opportunity to use two crypto-currencies (Bitcoins and Litecoins), it seems like it must be too good to be true.

When asked directly if they are a honeypot, Vladimir and Leora’s response is, “Ultimately you have to decide about us for yourself but we just did our first $500,000 in sales and exist mainly because of the rise of SR and the fact they now often fall victim to DDoS and other attacks.”

A few Silk Road vendors have jumped ship to Atlantis. The ones I spotted were in the business of dealing knockoff jewelry, but whether it’s jewelry or drugs, the lower commissions and better stability make for a better experience for the end user and a few extra dollars in their pockets.

At this point, it’s hard to tell if Atlantis is actually a honey pot scam. More than likely, if you choose to deal on an illegal marketplace, you have to accept that you’re doing business in an illegal marketplace – it doesn’t come without risks. You can however, further protect your identity by adding a manual encryption – Atlantis supports this. As a buyer (and if you’re buying in volume that would alert law enforcement) well they have to be able to prove that you actually placed the order.

If you need to find Atlantis, get yourself a tor browser and check out this video.

The moment I realized I had forced all my friends to watch AfroSquad, I knew that talking about Internet culture was where I was meant to be. Between reddit, Nat&Marie and eating junk food, there's just enough time for my personal blog Karmacake.com. That is all. That is it. Oh. Instagram: Karmacake

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