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The Secret History Of World Market Onion

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The darknet – a wild west for fake coronavirus ‘cures ‘? The stark reality is more complicated (and regulated)

The coronavirus pandemic has spawned reports of unregulated health products and fake cures being sold on the dark web. These generally include black market PPE, illicit medications such as the widely touted “miracle” drug chloroquine, and fake COVID-19 “cures” including blood supposedly from recovered coronavirus patients.

These dealings have once more focused public attention with this little-understood part of the internet. Nearly a decade because it started being utilized on a substantial scale, the dark web continues to be a lucrative safe haven for traders in a selection of illegal goods and services, especially illicit drugs.

Black market trading on the dark web is carried out primarily through darknet marketplaces or cryptomarkets. They are anonymised trading platforms that directly connect buyers and sellers of a range of illegal goods and services – similar to legitimate trading websites such as for instance eBay.

So how do darknet marketplaces work? And just how much illegal trading of COVID-19-related products is happening via these online spaces?

Not just a free-for-all

There are currently greater than a dozen darknet marketplaces in operation. Protected by powerful encryption technology, authorities around the globe have largely failed to contain their growth. A steadily increasing proportion of illicit drug users around the globe report sourcing their drugs online. In Australia, we have among the world market – http://168.232.50.40/mediawiki/index.php/Usuario:TiffanySaldivar’s highest concentrations of darknet drug vendors per capita.

Despite popular belief, cryptomarkets are not the “lawless spaces” they’re often presented as in the news. Market prohibitions exist on all mainstream cryptomarkets. Universally prohibited goods and services include: hitman services, trafficked human organs and snuff movies.

Although cryptomarkets lie beyond your realm of state regulation, each one is initiated and maintained by a central administrator who, alongside employees or associates, is accountable for the market’s security, dispute resolution between buyers and sellers, and the charging of commissions on transactions.

Administrators are also ultimately accountable for determining exactly what do and can’t be sold on the cryptomarket. These decisions are likely informed by:

the attitudes of the surrounding community comprising buyers and sellers
the extent of consumer demand and supply for many products
the revenues a site makes from commissions charged on transactions
and the perceived “heat” that could be attracted from police in the trading of particularly dangerous illegal goods and services.

Experts delve to the dark web

A written report from the Australian National University published a week ago discusses several hundred coronavirus-related products available across a dozen cryptomarkets, including supposed vaccines and antidotes.

While the study confirms some unscrupulous dark web traders are indeed exploiting the pandemic and seeking to defraud naïve customers, these details ought to be contextualised with a few important caveats.

Firstly, the amount of dodgy covid-related products available on the dark web is relatively small. According to the research, they take into account about 0.2% of most listed items. The overwhelming most products were those we are already knowledgeable about – particularly illicit drugs such as for example cannabis and MDMA.

Also, while the research focused on products listed for sale, these are usually listings for products that either do no exist or are listed with the particular intention to defraud a customer.

Thus, the particular sale of fake coronavirus “cures” on the dark web is likely minimal, at best.

  

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