Televend Market has been compromised under unclear circumstances. Users belonging to the Telegram-based dark web drug market, have reported being locked out of their vendor panels on the platform.
An announcement by the Dread Forum admin /u/HugBunter raised alarm over the lastest event that has sent a section of dark web users into shock, while others have expressed their lack of surprised over the poor OPSEC that was characteristic of the market (See screenshot).
Figure 1: An announcement on Dread about Televend Market being compromised
The Dread forum post warned users to stay away from the market amid fears of a possible law enforcement seizure of the site. The news comes hot in the heels of reports that customer crypto deposit addresses had been altered to addresses not belonging to them.
Televend Market Was an OPSEC Time Bomb
Though well known among dark web users, Televend was one of the very few markets that seemed lax on matters security considering that it followed a different path from that of traditional darknet markets.
The market seemed to be heavily dependent on the not-so-secure encrypted messaging app Telegram to run its operations. It described itself as “a direct deal platform which uses Telegram bots to interface with customers via a shop front inside the app and a Tor based .onion vendor panel for vendors to manage orders and customers, completely automated”.
It appears that Televend’s OPSEC issue had been noted before by users who believed that the market was failing to take the safety of its users seriously (See below).
Figure 2: User comments on Dread highlighting Televend's OPSEC weaknesses.
Another user, /u/holycowshit, gave an interesting perspective about the rise of Televend in a market that was rife with lethal distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. In his view, Televend Market gained traction because it couldn’t get DDoSed in addition to the fact that it proved to be a convenient alternative to dark web shoppers.
OPSEC-wise, Televend proved to be very dangerous for both buyers and sellers. A law enforcement agency would have simply arm-twisted the market into surrendering user phone numbers – the messaging app’s operators had all the information about all phone numbers that were interacting with the market’s bot.
Conflicting Opinions – Exit Scam or Law Enforcement Seizure?
So far, no one really knows if Televend operators have pulled an exit scam on its users. A number of formerly-influential dark web markets pulled lucrative exit scams in the past by admins who were out to make quick bucks. This reality has made some dark web users to attribute Televend’s latest woes to an exit scam (See below).
Figure 3: Users fear that Televend has exit scammed everyone.
The Wall Street Market $30m exit scam, for example, had been predicted way before it happened – some dark web observers had hinted that the site’s operators were planning to pull the plug on everyone.
However, other Dread users opined that Televend has been taken over by law enforcement who are currently collecting data and money (See below).
Figure 4: some dark web users who believe that Televend has been taken over by law enforcement