Darknet’s JokerStash Retiring After Making Over $1B Through Illicit Transactions

The founder of “Joker’s Stash,” one of the largest underground marketplaces for stolen payment card data, is officially retiring after making a fortune of over $1 billion, reports Elliptic, a U.K.-based blockchain analytics firm.

According to an Elliptic blog post, the site’s pseudonymous founder, JokerStash, said the site will cease operations on Feb. 15. Joker’s Stash was founded in 2014 and quickly rose to prominence.

“The revenues earned by Joker’s Stash can be estimated from the value of incoming cryptocurrency payments to its wallet, as seen on the blockchain,” wrote Elliptic co-founder Tom Robinson. “Since 2015 almost $400 million in bitcoin was sent to the marketplace, with annual sales peaking at $139 million in 2018. Sales dropped over the next two years, reflecting a broader downtrend in carding activity.”

Carding is the process of using stolen payment card data to purchase gift cards that can then be re-sold for cash. According to the cybersecurity firm Gemini Advisory, JokerStash claims to keep all proceeds of the marketplace in bitcoin. 

Read more: Over 13% of Bitcoin Crime Proceeds Laundered Through ‘Privacy Wallets’: Elliptic

“If that is the case, then the recent bitcoin price increase would have substantially inflated the value of [JokerStash’s] assets,” Robinson wrote. “If we assume an average total commission of 20% on sales, then considering bitcoin alone (the site also accepts litecoin and dash) they would have taken a total of at least 60,000 bitcoins, which today has a value of $2.5 billion.”

Elliptic noted that Joker’s Stash, which halted customer activity on Feb. 3, becomes “one of the few criminal marketplaces to shut down on its own terms, a victim of its own success rather than as a result of any apparent law enforcement operation.”