Multiple vendors of Televend, the Telegram-based drug market, are reporting being locked out of their vendor panels on the platform. According to posts on the Dread darknet forum, they are unable to access critical components of Televend and considering the platform to be compromised, warning all users to stay away. This comes after reports that Bitcoin deposit addresses for customer orders were being altered to addresses not belonging to them, or not generated using the vendor’s Bitcoin xpub.
Televend has been described by many as complex, risky, and far from immune when it comes to attention from law enforcement. It is hailed by its users for its consistency and lack of downtime – problems that frequently plague the hidden services-based darknet markets.
“This is a warning to any/all vendors and buyers who may have been active on Televend or purchasing through a Televend vendor bot,” said HugBunter, long-time Dread admin and author of the warning thread. “Wipe your data and clean house, you literally hold incriminating evidence on your cell phone you fucking idiots.”
Though incredibly popular, Televend did not offer the security of traditional darknet markets in that it still relied upon Telegram – a centralized entity – to maintain its operation. In Oct. 2020, Televend admins estimated the platform had about 200,000 customers spread out across over a dozen countries.
After awareness of Televend’s existence regularly permeated the mainstream media in late 2020, Telegram deleted everything associated with the platform from their servers, including bots and vendor accounts. This posed to be but a minor inconvenience for the admins, who had Televend back up and running again within a matter of days.
Two weeks ago, however, Televend users noticed bots were starting to be deleted again. Around the same time, suspicions began to arise as not only had one of its administrators been “MIA,” but was apparently acting as a vendor on the platform as well.
“I confirm today telegram stole 160 euros from 2 customers, the money was paid but did not arrive in my wallet,” reported one vendor on Dread. “The wallet addresses were changed, in the control panel all is still ok and wallets are generated correctly but customers get different addresses to pay.”
Speculative theories about what had just happened to Televend were rampant on Dread, running the gamut from exit scam to hacked to busted by law enforcement. According to HugBunter, the sudden closure and supposed re-opening “definitely doesn’t fit the usual exit scam criteria, but that wouldn’t be a first.”
Other Dread posters weren’t so sure. “Interesting new way of exit scam,” said one member. “They disable the admin panel for the sellers, change the wallet address to their wallets and leave the
bots doing their job. And until telegram will delete all these bots, that will take a while.”