In brief

  • Joker's Stash, one of the longest-running market places for stolen credit cards, said it will shut down next month.
  • The site has made revenues of over $1 billion in Bitcoin, according to estimates.
  • However, researchers say the shutdown is unlikely to curb the massive stolen card market.

The operators of stolen credit cards website Joker’s Stash announced last week that they are closing the site down for good next month. The site made revenues of over $1 billion in Bitcoin—their earnings from the platform—over the past years, according to a report by darknet cybersecurity firm Gemini Advisory.

Founded in 2014, Joker’s Stash quickly went from a small-time operator of stolen credit cards to one of the biggest providers. It connected sellers with vendors of illicitly obtained credit card information, codes, and payment addresses, all of which were said to be of the “highest quality” among other similar providers on the darknet.

The stolen card market is no small business either. Research from 2019 stated that over 76.2 million stolen cards made their way to darknet markets in the second half of that year alone. Then in the first half of 2020, 43 million stolen cards were found on the darknet. Much of these were traded on Joker’s Stash, until its end.

“Joker goes on a well-deserved retirement. Joker’s Stash is closing...It’s time for us to leave forever,” read a post written by the site’s operators last week.

The "Joker's" final post on the dark web site. Image: Gemini Advisory

Much of the Bitcoin (estimated to be over $1 billion at current rates) went to vendors for their services, Gemini Advisory said, and the remaining to Joker’s Stash’ operators—one of whom was known as the “Joker.”

Trouble in Joker land

Despite the fortunes, Gemini Advisory stated that darknet users had recently started to complain about the low-quality of stolen card info and the high amounts of cards that “did not work,” which saw the popularity of Joker’s Stash decline as a whole. The entire darknet market model—one that is wholly anonymous—is based on trust, meaning bad reviews are an instant path to unpopularity and no recurring business.

Losing customers was not the only concern for Joker’s Stash either. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seized its web domains and blockchain addresses last year, which even led to speculation among users that its operators were facing legal troubles at the time. However, Joker’s Stash operators regained access shortly afterward and put the site up again.

Then, in October, the Joker claimed to have caught the coronavirus and was hospitalized for a week. This caused a disruption in sales and a further dip in popularity.

Meanwhile, the end of Joker's Stash does not mean an end of the stolen card business. Gemini Advisory said that the site’s vendors were “very likely” to fully transition to other large, top-tier dark web marketplaces.

“The underground payment card economy is likely to remain largely unaffected by this shutdown,” the firm said.