Joker’s Stash, one of the world’s largest underground marketplaces peddling stolen credit cards, will reportedly shut down operations next month, according to researchers.
The decision to permanently shut down was announced on various cybercriminal forums.
“Joker goes on well-deserved retirement,” the administrator stated. “Joker’s Stash is closing. When we opened years ago, nobody knew us. Today we are one of the largest cards/dumps marketplace. Unfortunately, or fortunately – nothing lasts forever. It’s time for us to leave forever.”
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Joker’s Stash will completely disappear February 15, and the administrator warned of possible impersonators attempting to take advantage of the announcement.
“We will leave the Stash opened for 30 more days, until 2021-02-15, so all Stash users can spend accounts balances,” the post explained. “On 2021-02-15 we will wipe all our servers and backups and Joker will fade to dark, forever. And mark my word: WE WILL NEVER EVER OPEN AGAIN! Do NOT trust possible future imposters!”
The reason for the closure remains unclear. Gemini Advisory researchers speculate that the notorious data broker may have expanded his fortune in the recent Bitcoin surge.
“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,” researchers noted. Although investigators offer a plausible explanation behind his retirement reasoning, it appears that the threat actor was down on his luck last year.
In late October, the cybercriminal was forced to interrupt his normal activities due to alleged health issues brought on by COVID-19. Additionally, in December 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Interpol seized a number of servers used by Joker’s Stash, briefly disrupting the platform’s activities.
The investigators also said the platform drew many complaints from the underground community regarding the validity of posted credit card data.
“While this marketplace was the largest in the carding space, it also exhibited a severe decline in the volume of Card Not Present (CNP) and Card Present (CP) records posted over the past six months,” Gemini said. “Most of the top-tier carding marketplaces actually increased their posted data (largely CNP data, while CP data declined during COVID-19 lockdown) during this time. However, Joker’s Stash has received numerous user complaints alleging that card validity is low, which even prompted the administrator to upload proof of validity through a card-testing service.”
So-called “retirements” in the cybercriminal community should be taken with a grain of salt. The criminal’s assurances that he will permanently shut down the marketplace could be meant as a distraction to throw police off his trail.