Joker's Stash, the largest dark web marketplace notorious for selling compromised payment card data, has announced plans to shut down its operations on February 15, 2021.
In a message board post on a Russian-language underground cybercrime forum, the operator of the site — who goes by the name "JokerStash" — said "it's time for us to leave forever" and that "we will never ever open again," according to twin reports from cybersecurity firms Gemini Advisory and Intel471.
"Joker goes on a well-deserved retirement. Joker's Stash is closing," the post read. "When we opened years ago, nobody knew us. Today we are one of the largest cards/dumps marketplace[s]."
The exact reason for the shut down is still unclear.
Joker's Stash, since its origins in 2014, emerged as one of the biggest players in the underground payment card economy over the years, with over $1 billion generated in revenues.
The news of the imminent shutdown comes weeks after the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Interpol allegedly seized proxy servers used in connection with Blockchain-based domains belonging to the site last month, briefly disrupting its operations.
Adding to the mounting troubles was a "severe decline" in the volume of stolen data posted on the site, leading to complaints from clients about the poor quality of the payment card data.
Then in late October, the site's routine activities also suffered after the actor who allegedly runs the site claimed to have contracted COVID-19 and had been spending more than one week in a hospital.
Gemini Advisory pointed to Bitcoin's recent spike as another reason that may have led to the website's demise.
Bitcoin hit a record high of $40,000 last week, lifting the total value of the cryptocurrency market above $1 trillion for the first time ever.
"JokerStash was an early advocate of Bitcoin and claims to keep all proceeds in this cryptocurrency," the researchers said. "This actor was already likely to be among the wealthiest cybercriminals, and the spike may have multiplied their fortune, earning them enough money to retire."
Joker's Stash's shut down isn't the end of the road, however, as vendors are expected to transition to other dark web marketplaces to advertise their services.
The site's administrator had a few parting words of advice for cybercriminals.
"We are also want to wish all young and mature ones cyber-gangsters not to lose themselves in the pursuit of easy money (sic)," the post concluded. "Remember, that even all the money in the world will never make you happy and that all the most truly valuable things in this life are free."