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Riches to Wretchedness: The Fall of Alexandre Cazes and the Resurrection of AlphaBayby@blackheart
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Riches to Wretchedness: The Fall of Alexandre Cazes and the Resurrection of AlphaBay

by Matthew Maynard2mApril 3rd, 2024
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The Crash That Brought the Shadow to the Light. On the morning of July 5, 2017, a gray Toyota Camry turned into the cul-de-sac of a neighborhood in Bangkok in a subdivision on the western edge of the city. A driver makes a miscalculation on a 180-degree turn and accidentally causes a collision with a front gate on a model home and real estate office. The driver exits the vehicle obviously upset about the event and needs to speak with the owner of the model house about the accident.
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The Crash That Brought the Shadow to the Light.

On the morning of July 5, 2017, a gray Toyota Camry turned into the cul-de-sac of a neighborhood in Bangkok in a subdivision on the western edge of the city. A driver makes a miscalculation on a 180-degree turn and accidentally causes a collision with a front gate on a model home and real estate office. The driver exits the vehicle obviously upset about the event and needs to speak with the owner of the model house about the accident.


After a significant time elapsed, Alexander Caze surfaced from his home to discuss the collision at the front gate of his home. As Alexander Caze made his way to have the conversation with the person in the vehicle, the FBI stormed the property arresting Alexander Caze aka “Alpha02” aka “Admin online” the owner of the Dark Web marketplace AlphaBay.

Riches to Wretchedness.


Alexandre Cazes

Alexander Cazes was just 25 and the CEO of EBX Technologies, a company that offered website creation services for businesses. Or at least that is what Alexandre Cazes said when someone asked about his occupation. According to Cazes’s father, Alexandre was a computer genius who started his own web design business at 17, had a high IQ, AND specialized in everything from web development to encryption services.


While still a teenager, Cazes was believed to have started his first company, EBX Technologies, selling computers and helping small businesses set up their websites. His IT presence was clear to see; authorities traced Alexandre as far back as 2008, posting advice on a tech forum on how to remove a virus from a digital photo.


Cazes grew up near Montreal and his family said he was a genius. In the shadows, Alexandre was the alleged mastermind of AlphaBay. According to publicly available information on AlphaBay prior to its takedown, one AlphaBay staff member claimed that it serviced over 200,000 users and 40,000 vendors.


Around the time of the takedown, there were over 250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals on AlphaBay, and over 100,000 listings for stolen and fraudulent identification documents and access devices, counterfeit goods, malware and other computer hacking tools, firearms, and fraudulent services.


Comparatively, the Silk Road dark web marketplace, which was seized by law enforcement in November 2013, had reportedly approximately 14,000 listings for illicit goods and services at the time of seizure and was the largest dark web marketplace at the time.

All Wrongdoing can be Traced to an Excessive Attachment to Material Wealth.

Alexander Cazes biggest vulnerability turned out to be his penchant for bragging about his newly acquired wealth and status. Alexandre Cazes claimed his worth was about $23 million US, including $12.5 million in properties and vehicles, and the rest in cash and cryptocurrencies.


Cazes's assets seized by the U.S. government included $6.6 million Cdn in Bitcoin, $2.4 million in Ethereum, $622,000 in Monero, and $980,512 in Zcash. He had at least 11 bank accounts and cryptocurrency exchange accounts registered in his name or his wife's name in Thailand, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.


Beyond cash, Cazes had a taste for luxury vehicles, including a 2013 Lamborghini Aventador, a Porsche Panamera, a Mini Cooper, and a BMW motorcycle. He had three properties in Bangkok, and a vacation property in Phuket, Thailand.


This villa in Phuket, Thailand is one of many properties said to have been owned by Alexandre Cazes.(www.villatorcello.com)


seized cars & property.

Subtle Clues That Were Not So Subtle.

Alexandre Cazes lived a seemingly quiet life for more than a year with his Thai girlfriend in a middle-class neighborhood on the outskirts of Bangkok, but the flashy cars he drove stood out. All in an area where people drive pickup trucks and children tool around on plastic tricycles, and there was the nearly $1 million, metallic gray Lamborghini, a Porsche, and then the Mini Cooper for his girlfriend. Nothing except expensive cars, which were completely out of place in the neighborhood where homes cost less than $120,000.


The neighbors thought Alexandre Cazes worked in the hotel business. One neighbor, who asked not to be named because the case involves crime, said Cazes rarely left the house before noon. She said she got her first good look at him one day when he was outside, trying to photograph a monitor lizard that had crawled out of a deserted field nearby. “We smiled at each other, that’s it,” she said.

 One of the properties of Alexandre Cazes is seen in Bangkok, Thailand

Whispers in the Dark That Awoke a Giant.

Alexandre Cazes believed that crypto’s anonymity would protect him but just as crypto had opened new markets for the criminal world, it opened up opportunities for law enforcement. According to U.S. government documents, Cazes had an estimated net worth of around $23 million. This wealth was diversified across real estate in Thailand, Cyprus, and Antigua, luxury cars, and liquid assets such as cash and cryptocurrencies.


Specifically, $12.5 million was invested in properties and vehicles. At its height, AlphaBay’s daily sales ranged between $600,000 and $800,000 across 300,000 listings for illicit goods, offered by over 40,000 vendors and viewed by some 200,000 users. Alexadre’s activity with AlphBay led to a police operation shutdown called “Bayonet”, which involved authorities in six countries including the FBI, the Dutch National Police, and the Royal Thai Police.

Simple Mistakes From a Brilliant Mind.

Alexandre Cazes made mistakes and one was with his personal email. Once new users joined the forums and entered their private email accounts, they were greeted with an email directly from AlphaBay welcoming them to the forums. The email address “[email protected]” was included in the header information of the AlphaBay welcome email. Searches for that email led investigators to forum posts by accounts with the same online handle Cazes used on AlphaBay, Alpha02.


They eventually tracked down Cazes’ full name and LinkedIn account, which listed him as affiliated with EBX Technology, a company that investigators suspected was a front for AlphaBay.


Researcher Abdilo

Alexandre Cazes had registered a PayPal account tied to bank accounts held in his name as well as the EBX Technologies business name using the "[email protected]" email account. Also, in 2008 a post to a French-language online tech forum "www.commentcamarche.com" by user "Alpha02" included the name "Alexandre Cazes" and the Hotmail address.


The administrator of AlphaBay, notably, had used the username "Alpha02" before changing it to "Admin."

To Encrypt or Not to Encrypt…That Is the Question.

When the police, aided by the FBI and DEA, raided Alexandre Cazes's home, they said he was using a PC that was logged into AlphaBay as "Admin." The laptop was also found opened and unencrypted - revealing that Alexandre Cazes had been communicating with an AlphaBay data center, revealing the day-to-day operations as well as with AlphaBay users, and numerous passwords to AlphaBay servers and other infrastructure.

A Tragic End And a Snake in the Grass.

Alexandre Cazes was being held in a cell at Bangkok's Narcotics Suppression Bureau and, just hours before he was due to meet prosecutors for talks over his extradition to the US, was found dead of an apparent suicide. Alexandre Cazes did not run AlphaBay singlehandedly. He worked closely with a “security administrator” and second in command known as DeSnake, or simply “DS” for short.


Sometime after the takedown of Alpah Bay and the death of Alexandre Cazes, DeSnake posted on a popular dark web forum to announce the relaunch of AlphaBay and a dedication to Alexandre Cazes aka “alpha02.”


DeSnake post