The kingpin behind the largest illicit credit card marketplace Joker’s Stash has retired after having amassed a fortune of nearly $3 billion worth of Bitcoin, according to the blockchain analytics firm Elliptic.
Joker’s Stash had been in operation since 2014. Its founder announced the site’s launch in English and Russian-language posts on various carding forums, using the pseudonym “JokerStash”. The marketplace soon gained popularity due to the quality and volume of the cards offered, sourced from a network of “partners” - criminal groups that originally stole the card details.
“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 - increased security around card payments has made their theft more difficult, while advances in anti-fraud technology have made it more challenging for carders to make purchases with stolen cards,” the firm said.
In January 2021, Joker’s Stash announced it would stop operations on February 15 and all the data would be wiped out from its servers after the official closing date. However, Elliptic said that the marketplace ceased operations on February 3, 2021, angering many customers, who still had balances to spend.
Joker’s Stash claims to keep all proceeds of the marketplace in bitcoin (BTC), and Elliptic said that the revenues earned by Joker’s Stash can be estimated from the value of incoming cryptocurrency payments to its wallet.
“JokerStash claims to keep all proceeds of the marketplace in bitcoin. If that is the case then the recent bitcoin price increase would have substantially inflated the value of assets. 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 estimates.
“It [Joker’s Stash] is 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. This will no doubt encourage others to take its place at the heart of the cybercrime economy,” the blockchain analytics firm predicts.