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I'm the admin of Elude and I had a great interview with Nietzsche from TheOnionWeb.
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What motivated you to start your own Mixer?
Well we started as an email service, and we remained that way for maybe a year or two before we decided we could add more features that would be useful to people on the darknet. So we decided to actually not just to create a mixer, many of which already existed, we decided to make a bitcoin/monero exchange. We could tell that more and more markets and buyers would start using monero, and figured that people would need a reliable source of monero.
What does the name "Elude" means?
"To escape capture". Elude's purpose is to help people protect their anonymity on the darknet. Using an email service hosted entirely as a hidden service keeps people's email data safe, and the same as a btc/xmr exchange. Law enforcement loves to subpoena data from communications companies, and especially more recently cryptocurrency exchange companies. Even started pressuring anonymous exchanges like morphtoken which have started requiring KYC due to increased pressure from US law enforcement. So Elude is hosted on the tor network and answers to no law enforcement agency.
What makes your service stand out from the rest?
Well I really like that elude takes care of two main needs for a darknet user, communication and crypto. If a user needs to message their vendor and send some xmr or btc to their market, they can do that at the same time. Plus we have been around since 2017, longer than any of the markets currently operating, so I think we have a great deal of trust from the community, which is important when you're accepting people's crypto. And we're always looking at ways to improve the service and move with the really quickly changing darknet environment. So to me Elude is really unique.
How many users are using your email service?
We have about 50,000 active email users. That does not include the guest users who make exchanges without needing a account, that actually seems to make up the majority of our traffic. To be honest, email is definitely not our main focus anymore since it seems that the community much prefers our exchange and mixer. It is hard to say how many people use our crypto services but we have made 100,000s of transactions over the past few years.
We saw that you were hitted by ddos recently, How are you dealing with DDOS attacks? Will you add endgame filter or some other countermeasures?
Yes we have implemented the EndGame, and it has been mostly successful in mitigating the attacks. Big thanks to the developers of that Paris & HugBunter at dread. That was something we had on our list for months and months, but we never really got around to it until we had no other choice. We also have some mirrors available on dark.fail and /d/elude. We're going to need to continue to stay on top of it, because I don't think the threat of DDOSers is going anywhere. They will just get smarter and more persistent and so will we. Especially with the explosion of machine learning algorithms, it is getting easier for people to beat captchas and wreck havoc. It's going to be very interesting to see how the darknet responds to this shift in technology.
Surely you have heard about Grams Admin, Do you fear being caught like him?
Well I think any reasonable person has a certain level of fear when doing illegal things. At least they should. But I don't live in fear, I am very conservative about my personal security, and about the security of our service. I sleep well at night. It wasn't clear exactly how they caught the Grams admin, but I would bet that it had something to do with blockchain analysis. Monero is a good answer for that. Law enforcement has gotten smart with bitcoin and so we adapt. And if law enforcement cracks Monero, I'm sure the community will make something even better.
What are your thoughts about the goverments trying to centralize crypto by investing in tracking tools?
Well it is inevitable. The government will always chase the criminals by tracking them down. Blockchain analysis is really a new type of forensic accounting. It's unfortunate however that the government, US government in particular, has been focused so intently on crypto as a tool for money laundering, while simultaneously ignoring the more traditional methods of money laundering and tax evasion like offshore bank accounts and tax havens. Cash is still the preferred currency for most criminals, but they want to chase crypto users because it rocks the status quo.
How do you get a handful of coins while staying under the radar?
You don't spend them! If people can hold onto their bitcoin and just shut up about it, nobody is going to come chasing you down. They aren't making much more bitcoin these days, so it's probably in your best interest to get and hold your bitcoin. The second you start trying to launder it through traditional means so you can ball out or whatever, you're putting yourself in an unnecessary risk. Bitcoin is like the best Swiss bank account ever, it is perfect for staying under the radar as long as you don't do anything crazy.
Mixing on Elude can take sometimes to receieve the fresh coins, do you manually confirm every transaction & send the coins?
No, everything is automated. We have worked very hard to develop a system that keeps track of the bitcoins and monero so it breaks the blockchain and maintains security for our user's coins at all times. We actually add an artificial delay so that anyone trying to analyze our wallet will have a harder time correlating transactions in and out. Also monero is still quite in its early days and experiences a fair bit of lag and hiccups. That is something we have to deal with a lot.
Do you agree that, when it comes to money laundering. All of us should have our own personal freedom?
I believe there is a balance between personal freedom and security. I'm not someone that advocates for absolute anarchy or absolute libertarianism. But when it comes to personal, private money, we should have privacy and freedom. That's really what crypto has done for us, it has enabled individual people to be able to freely move their money freely and privately. The line gets drawn at large organizations that take advantage of people or are downright violent. There should be laws that limit things like campaign donations or lobbying, and the government should be able to investigate violent criminals. It's the rest of the people that should not have to deal with strict AML laws despite not being criminals. Just because a few people commit crimes doesn't mean everyone should be investigated like a suspect. There is a fine line to draw there, and it is not always clear, especially for those in government.
Have you ever recieved a police warrant or message from europol asking for access to some emails? Would you ever collaborate with them?
Yes we frequently receive requests from law enforcement agencies around the world. When it comes to violent crimes, child abuse, things like that, we do what we can to help the authorities. We generally don't have much information to provide them, however. They usually ask for IP addresses, which we don't have. We have not shared any actual email content before to my best knowledge. Generally the police are informed that the user is banned and that is the end of the story.
You currently provide an exchange, mixer, lookup trades, a crypto wallet as well as email service. Do you plan on extending the Elude platform by adding some features?
Yes, we are currently working on an escrow service. This will allow two elude users to make a trade agreement, fill an escrow wallet, and make a safe trade. We are hoping this allows customers to use with vendors they're not totally sure of, to protect them from the many scams that are out there on the forums. It may open more doors for new ideas that we never saw before, and I'm really excited about it.
What's the weirdest or funniest support email you have ever received?
I particularly like the emails from people saying 'Hey I forgot my password to email@example.com, can you tell me the password?' Oh sure, random person emailing me, let me just share this user's password with you so you can totally regain access to your own account, and not steal this user's bitcoin. Support emails are usually pretty boring. I'd say 95% percent of them are people having trouble with their own monero wallet.
However we have a verification system that requires users to introduce themselves with the prompt 'Why is privacy important to you?' And we get funny sarcastic answers all the time. My favorite is 'Because I don't want some NSA weirdo watching me and listening to me because my Alexa heard me jerk off to arabic porn' LOL