Always have a plan B. This is a value that Hydra admins seem to have followed as chain analysis data proves potential vendor and admin overlaps with Hydra and alternative Darknet Markets. One Russian darknet market, in particular, seemed to have close ties with or was directly run by Hydra Markets admins. Let’s break down how the leading darknet market planned for its failure.
Is OMG!OMG! Hydra Run?
The Russian-based darknet market, OMG!OMG! run by the same admins as Hydra was? This is a question nobody was asking when Hydra was at the top of the world, taking in over 90% of all darknet market transactions. Why would the admins need to run such a small operation that it barely qualified as a darknet market and more as a personal operation taking place between a few individuals?
We recently reported on How Much Darknet Markets Made In 2022; this information came from a Chainalysis report as the team dove deep into the darknet ecosystem breaking down operations and how they run. The report proved Hydra’s removal from the darknet world created a lasting impact, dropping sales in 2022 by 48% and pushing the darknet revenue potential back drastically. This is despite the fact that Hydra went offline in April 2022.
At the time of the domain’s seizure, one individual by the name of Dmitry Pavlov was arrested for conspiracy to distribute narcotics and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Pavlov seemed like the most likely candidate to have run operations. But you don’t run a multi-billion industry with one man.
This is a fairly decent Russian-based darknet marketplace that has no limits. Users can sell drugs, weaponry, services, software, and everything in-between on this website. The website is not new by any means, first opening up in mid-2020, but not really showing its potential until the wake of Hydra’s collapse.
Just a month before German LE managed to seize the Hydra servers, a large portion of wallets connected to Hydra moved over to OMG!OMG! Almost all of which were vendors finding a new home, but some even indicate it may have been a Hydra admin and staff moving to the smaller marketplace too. Perhaps the admins fought with each other, or were preparing for the worst after finding their servers were infiltrated, but OMG!s traffic multiplied within a few weeks prior to Hydra’s collapse. It didn’t stop there.
Following Hydra’s collapse, Mega Darknet Market, Blacksprut Market, and OMG!OMG! Market all gained a market share. There is no doubt that these markets took to extreme efforts to attract former Hydra users and vendors. But one market stood above them all. Atleast for the next two months.
Immediately following the Hydra collapse, during the months of April and May, OMG!OMG! Captured up to 65.2% of the total darknet market share. For the average user, there was no doubt this market would become the next Hydra. Unfortunately for them, in the middle of June, OMG! suffered from consistent DDoS attacks, losing favour with many vendors and customers and handing over the reins to Blacksprut.
The Chainalysis team did what they do best, analysed the Blockchain, and found that several personal wallets associated with known Hydra vendors subsequently worked and made transactions with OMG.
The migration of vendors, plus the timing and source of OMG’s initial revenue suggests that Hydra administrators may have been involved with the development of OMG. Additionally, the two markets show certain operational similarities. For instance, Hydra was unique among its competitors in that it offered location-based courier services. Upon account creation, the user would select their location and arrange “dead-drop”-style exchanges from vendor to buyer. Upon sale, the vendor would send the buyer geographic coordinates and a picture of where their well-hidden purchase could be found. OMG offers this same service, too.Chainalysis Report
This obviously could have been OMG! OMG! working to replicate the Hydra services, but due to multitudes of complications, there’s a reason most do not offer such services. The team also found that OMG’s central wallet would often send ‘high values” of cryptocurrencies to the same wallets at specific high-risk exchanges. All of which have a heavy presence within Russia.
These overlaps suggest that the wallet addresses were controlled by the same individual, further indicating more than just a vendor overlap but more of an administrator overlap. There were a few similarities between OMG!, Blacksprut, and Mega Market, but none compared to how much OMG! replicated the Hydra operations.
So this begs the question: OMG!OMG run by the same admins that ran Hydra Market? I guess it’s up to you to decide.