Abacus Market Review 2022
With the newest wave of the major darknet markets being closed (e.g., the Versus market has officially retired just a few days ago), Abacus has become a safe harbor for many refugees, vendors and buyers alike. It is already not a small market, but it strives to soon expand and evolve.
In the volatile environment of the dark web, making long-term plans usually is not a feasible strategy. However, Abacus continuously emphasizes that it is here to stay. So, let’s see how decent are its chances of accomplishing this goal.
Overview, Main Features, and URL
The platform was initially launched as AlphaBet in early 2020, but the admins decided to change its name to Abacus in September 2021 to avoid being confused with the recently rebooted AlphaBay. Although the name has changed, the Abacus team still managed to pay homage to their ‘favorite marketplace of all time‘ (AlphaBay) by using the upgraded version of their design. But don’t worry about your safety in this respect, the platform was built from scratch (at least, according to its admins).
In 2020 as AlphaBet (known as Abacus since September 2021)
Number of listings
~ 28 000
Escrow with Multisig
Bitcoin (BTC) & Monero (XMR)
Finalize Early (FE)
Yes. Can be full or partial (75%, 50%, or 25%)
2-factor authentication with PGP encryption
Mandatory PGP encryption
$100, but might be increased (only for vendors with no reviews on other markets)
5% for vendors
Abacus Market Onion URL:
Overall, the Abacus’s most prominent characteristics include:
- wide selection of products & services (with the harm reduction info available in the ‘Drugs’ section);
- diverse payment options;
- both BTC & XMR as accepted cryptocurrencies;
- functional & user-friendly interface;
- adequate security measures;
- strong forum community & 24/7 customer support.
The developers’ team called the last update ‘Moon’ because when the project’s roadmap reaches its final stage, it will take the users ‘to the Moon’ (figuratively, of course), and with the upcoming direct payments it might just be true. But despite all the promised and existing cool features, the platform has been experiencing a downfall due to severe DDoS attacks against public URL (private links for trusted sellers and buyers are still accessible). Yet, the admin remains optimistic and ensures that protective measures are on the way alongside the long-awaited update.
Naturally, the darknet is no place for a noob. When you pay no or little attention to safety protocols and privacy preservation rules, you jeopardize your freedom or funds, while putting other participants in danger. It is presumed that if you take interest in exploring the deep web, you have the brains to learn how to do it responsibly.
Luckily, the dark web community has no shortage of information on everything you need to know about the darknet markets. So, here are some suggestions on where to start your research:
- Use a trusted VPN with a ‘no logs’ policy.
- Access the darknet via a dedicated operating system with enhanced privacy capabilities, like Whonix or Tails.
- Hide everything, including your credentials, PIN codes, mnemonic, and PGP keys.
- Manually encrypt all the sensitive information and conversations with PGP.
- Stick to reputable vendors and always perform a background check.
- Never open links from the sources you do not know or trust if you don’t want to get phished.
Setting Up an Account
Since the new update, creating and managing your account has become significantly easier because challenging to deal with captchas were replaced with OnionGuard for registration and deCaptcha for logging in. The basic stages and procedures you need to pay attention to include:
- Registration. It requires a private username (login), a public username (displayed to other users), a password (reenter), a PIN for confirming your purchases (reenter), and a login phrase for phishing protection (will be shown when you enter your account).
- Logging in. When you first enter your account, you will get a Mnemonic. Store it somewhere safe because this is your only chance of restoring your account in case something goes wrong.
- PGP encryption & 2-FA. Abacus doesn’t enforce mandatory PGP encryption or 2-FA for users but highly recommends it. So, for the safety of everyone on the market, including you, go to your Security Settings and use the public PGP key with your PIN to add your private PGP key. 2-FA is an extra security measure that makes you decrypt a message with your private PGP key every time you log in. Again, enabling it is optional, yet strongly advised (your PIN is also required to complete this process).
- Inserting and saving your Bitcoin public key and refund address (Edit profile → Multisig information). You should get them from your personal e-wallet, the one that you would make deposits from or get refunds.
Now, you’re all set.
Approximately 28 000 products are currently on display on Abacus, and almost half of them are drugs. Still, it presents a sufficient number of other goods and services in other categories as well:
- Drugs (Cannabis & Hashish, Psychedelics, Benzodiazepine, Dissociative drugs, Steroids, Stimulants, Ecstasy, Opioids, Paraphernalia, Prescription, Tobacco, Weight Loss, etc.);
- Counterfeit Items (Clothing, Jewelry, Electronics, Fake IDs, Money, etc.);
- Fraud (CVV & Cards, Dumps, Accounts & Bank Drops, Personal Information & Scans, etc.);
- Jewels & Gold (Gold/Silver/Other);
- Carded Items (Digital, Electronics, Appliances, Clothing, etc.);
- Software & Malware (Botnets & Malware, Exploits & Exploit Kits, Security Software, etc.);
- Security & Hosting (VPN, Socks, Hosting, Shells, Cpanels, etc.);
- Digital Products (Erotica, E-Books, Game Keys, Fraud & Legit Software, etc.);
- Guides & Tutorials (Hacking, Security & Anonymity, Drugs, Fraud, Social Engineering, etc.);
- Services (Carding/Social Engineering/Other);
- and more.
With the emphasis on usability, there is no wonder that Abacus offers a wide range of advanced search options, such as filters for:
- shipping to/from;
- product type;
- category or multiple categories;
- price range;
- accepted cryptocurrencies;
- Escrow with Multisig.
For the most accurate results, apply the ‘best match’ filter. Now, you’re ready to review your options.
While browsing to find the desired items, don’t forget to check the following info about both vendors and products:
- price (and accepted cryptocurrency);
- destinations the seller ships to (there are several offers with international shipping for those who are interested);
- available quantity;
- vendor’s ratings (quality, delivery, and stealth), Level, and Trusted status;
- FE option (enabled or not);
- latest activity and average processing time;
- shipping options & refund policy;
- reviews (for the recently joined vendors, reviews are usually imported from the other sites).
Some of these details are listed in the preview, others you can find in the expanded description. Naturally, this is your call to pass a judgment on the seller’s credibility, but make sure you’ve studied all this information with due diligence before placing an order.
Harm reduction project AEGIS & Banned Products
Abacus is exasperated with the government’s ‘War on drugs’ policy, and they invented the harm reduction project AEGIS to embody their stance on the matter. When it comes to drugs, people must make a responsible choice. However, if the access to the information about these substances is restricted or requires extensive research, making the right decision becomes challenging and even impossible.
Therefore, the Abacus market is now integrated with Aegis, a search engine/online encyclopedia of theory and common practices related to drug manufacturing or use. Some harm reduction information is already available in certain drug listings. But now you can feel free to learn more and stay safe.
As you can see, Abacus’ harm reduction policy is quite strict. Thus, there is no wonder their list of goods and services that are forbidden on the platform is not a short one:
- fentanyl or analogs of similar substances (+ adulterated drugs);
- child pornography or any resources that provide access to it;
- human trafficking or selling human parts/organs;
- services intended to physically or mentally harm other living creatures (e.g., assassination, arson, harassment, threatening, surveillance, etc.);
- poisons, guns, or explosives;
- anything that can be utilized to perform terroristic actions.
There is no wallet-free payment on Abacus, at least until the next update. This means that before placing an order, you need to make a deposit. So, you have to:
- Select the preferred payment method (Escrow/Multisig/full or partial FE) and cryptocurrency (Bitcoin/Monero). Keep in mind that although Monero is renowned for its advanced security capabilities, it is not suitable for Multisig payments.
- Go to the ‘Wallets’ section and copy the BTC or XMR deposit address assigned to your account. Remember that these addresses are ‘one-use only’. There will be a new one for every transaction.
- Use the link to transfer the exact amount of money you need to pay for your order. Abacus doesn’t charge any withdrawal fees, but the less money you have in your wallet, the higher are your chances of minimizing the damage to your funds in case of an exit scam or other unfortunate event.
- Wait for the transaction to complete. It usually takes 3 confirmations for BTC and an unspecified number of transactions for XMR.
Escrow & Finalize Early
As soon as you place an order, the funds are transferred from your built-in wallet to the platform’s escrow account. After the transaction is complete, the vendor receives a notification, prepares the package, and ships it.
If you are satisfied with the product and delivery, you must finalize the order. You can wait until it is auto-finalized, but that’s an incredibly impolite and even rude thing to do because the seller deserves to get the rightfully earned money without unnecessary delay. In case something displeases you, feel free to open a dispute to get a full or partial refund.
Naturally, choose the merchant you can trust if you plan to use the FE option. It is faster because the order is finalized as soon as the vendor marks it as shipped. This means that the odds are you would lose the deposited money if something goes wrong. If you opt for the partial FE (75%, 50%, or 25%), you can count on a partial refund because only a part of the paid amount goes to the seller after the shipment, the rest remains in escrow.
Escrow 2/3 Multisig implies that it needs to get a minimum of two parties to sign the transaction to release the escrow funds. This means that in case the deal goes wrong (for whatever reason), your chances of getting a full or partial refund increase significantly.
In other respects, it follows the same algorithm as the traditional Escrow. Additionally, you will need to use your Bitcoin public key. Your refund address will be used only to transfer your money back in case of a refund.
With the specific environment of the darknet markets in mind, privacy and security are not something you should treat lightly. Therefore, it is important to do business in a marketplace that understands the sacredness of safety and anonymity. Hence, let’s see what Abacus does to protect its users:
- The website was built from scratch.
- 2-FA is available.
- All shopper’s addresses are automatically encrypted with PGP.
- Finalized orders/inactive conversations will be purged within 30 days.
- Orders, sales, and profiles have PGP’s fingerprints.
- You can pay with BTC or Monero.
- It offers traditional and Multisig Escrow as secure payment options.
However, it would be reckless to rely entirely on the site’s security features. In addition, you should always encrypt all the sensitive data with PGP and never transfer more money than is required to complete a transaction.
Referral & Bug Bounty Programs
If you want to make extra cash, Abacus is eager to present you with a couple of opportunities:
- Referral program if you’re willing to promote the platform.
- Bug bounty program for those who have the skills and expertise to pen test the website.
Community & Support
Nowadays, it is a rare case when the darknet market is not only about business, but also strives to build a sense of unity and cooperation. But it is always a pleasant surprise to find the ones that stick to the ‘nothing personal, just business’ philosophy. Here are some aspects proving that the Abacus market genuinely cares for all of its users:
- Multilanguage forum and encyclopedia/search engine for harm reduction and educational purposes.
- 24/7 customer support.
- Equal rights and responsibilities for sellers and clients alike. Customers can often be mischievous and dishonest too. So, to provide fair treatment, vendors are enabled to restrict access to buyers they don’t trust. Plus, they can choose which listings they hide or display privately.
Overall, the recent flood of refugees from the closed markets combined with the Abacus’s unmatched usability made it one of the largest players in the industry. Truth be told, the platform deserves attention. It has 2-FA with PGP encryption, advanced search filters, an intuitive interface, Escrow with Multisig, full & partial FE, a substantial product range, and the ability to pay with Monero.
In the volatile darknet surrounding, it is hard to believe their claims that they are here to stay. Yet, several marketplaces managed to retire gracefully over the past few months. Thus, let’s see, maybe Abacus will manage to achieve its goals and then leave on its terms.