Hi Reddit,

I've answered a few questions about the Dark Web on AskReddit threads that have blown up and caused people to say "You should do an AMA". So here I am

(Not making it up. Here's one
Here's another )

As well as hanging around in the dark web for the better part of 8 years, I've also been an investigative journalist, writing for a load of different newspapers and magazines, and I'm one of the main freelance writers of scripts for the totally awesome [b]Casefile True Crime podcast[/b]

I'm the author of six True Crime books (seven if. you count the short one; eight if you count the Polish version of The Darkest Web) - Check them out here. Two of them were traditionally published, four are indie-published.

They don't have to be read in any particular order. The most comprehensive and popular dark web one is 'The Darkest Web". The most recent one is "Stalkers"

Past lives have included corporate lawyer in London and skydiving bum for a year in the USA

AMA about the dark web, true crime writing, journalism, publishing, visiting Bangkok prisons, skydiving, or whatever

My proof: https://twitter.com/EileenOrmsby/status/1296282657106489351/photo/1

EDIT: Guys, I have 19 requests for direct chats. Please don't do that. I'm not going to read or respond to any of them, sorry. I'm happy to answer any questions here for as long as you are asking them

EDIT The top comment pointed out I've failed to try and sell you anything. SO HERE: BUY MY BOOKS HERE PLEASE, I'D REALLY APPRECIATE IT

ANOTHER EDIT I've been here 9 hours and I'm really hungry. I'm also still in my pajamas. I'm going to get dressed and have something to eat, then will come back later and try to pick up any questions I've missed. Thanks everyone for getting engaged, hope it was useful

YET ANOTHER EDIT okay, I'm fed and watered, out of my PJs (not sure why, I just have to get back into them again in a few hours) and coming back for another round. My little envelope tells me there are another 58 new questions so please bear with me, and forgive me if I skip some that have been answered more than once in the thread. Here goes. *oooh, came back to someone gave me gold which means I can see which posts are new. very handy thank you!

Comments: 1658 • Responses: 114  • Date: 

bowyer-betty1536 karma

You don't seem to be pushing your most recent project and you're actually answering all the questions people ask, so I've got ask...are you some sort of government plant meant to destabilize reddit? This isn't how AMAs are supposed to work. You come in, you half ass a few questions, hawk whatever you're here to hawk, and then leave after 20 minutes. That's how it's done.

OzFreelancer1269 karma

lol I'm a genuine redditor from way back, and I love talking about the stuff I do. I did find that after I answered a question in an AskReddit thread a while back that blew up, the sales followed. But that was organic and I don't think you can force it to happen - Reddit can spot that a mile awy

Tazbio43 karma

What a twist, maybe you should be the investigative journalist instead

OzFreelancer101 karma

Maybe this is all a secret information-gathering ploy

Kuato20121149 karma

Have you ever gotten into legal trouble by exploring the dark places of the internet? Like, "sorry, officer, I was only surfing drug markets and child molester forums for my next journalism piece..."

Do you worry about that? Do you have to take extra steps to protect yourself?

OzFreelancer2372 karma

I'm very careful not to go anywhere that it is illegal to visit. You will hear loads of stories about how easy it is to "stumble upon" child porn, but the fact is that those sites usually have names like "Preteen cuties" so you know exactly what they are, and in order to access them you have to register. So you have to make a very deliberate choice to log into them. I have no interest whatsoever in viewing any child abuse material, so I don't go into those places. When I was researching The Darkest Web, I went to the discussion forums that didn't allow any images (though they did link to sites that did), and even there I turned off images.

As for the drugs, weapons etc, there is nothing illegal about surfing them and looking around.

I do get a bit nervous every time I visit the US, especially when I was invited to a "friendly" lunch with Homeland Security once (it was reasonably friendly as it turns out, it was also terrifying)

emilysium663 karma

Why did homeland security want to talk to you?

OzFreelancer1131 karma

They said it was about the murder-for-hire stuff, but some of the questions leaned toward something else

gh0s7_3y3s635 karma

Have you been exposed to things in your investigations that have made you second-guess what you do? If so, what has made you keep going back?

OzFreelancer860 karma

i've definitely had days where I question everything, but to be honest, I don't really hang around the horrible really dark places much. I did delve into the child predator forums when I was writing The Darkest Web, but I don't make it a habit to go there. The psychonauts are much more friendly

bowyer-betty553 karma

Psychonauts are more friendly than most people. Something about regular mind altering experiences makes you want to be less of a cunt.

OzFreelancer500 karma

Yeah, I call The Majestic Garden a little corner of sunshine and rainbows on the dark web :)

308NegraArroyoLn220 karma

Love and light friend

OzFreelancer222 karma

Heh. Love and light :)

Coll_McRaizie107 karma

More about The Majestic Garden please? What is grown there?

OzFreelancer682 karma

It's a place where people talk about and source psychedelics - most notably LSD, the 2C family, DMT and MDMA. Talk about and sourcing harder drugs is forbidden. In fact the admins snuck in an autocorrect so that any time someone wrote the word "cocaine" it would post as "a raging hardon" :D

crank1off86 karma

To continue with that- have you clicked images, links that make you a suspect in certain scenarios?

OzFreelancer315 karma

Oh absolutely. Sometimes I go to a "Fresh Onion" site, which is a site that crawls all the .onion addresses (dark web URLs end in .onion rather than .com, org etc) and alerts you to any new ones. Sometimes they don't have any description, so you take a big risk clicking on any of those. The most dangerous button on the dark web is the "Random Onion" button, so I avoid that.

I'm pretty careful about what I click, but the moment something looks questionable I nope the fuck right out of there

crank1off97 karma

Have you ever felt that you may be a suspect whether it be ok a drug site, a pedo site, etc. Have you ever been contacted by someone regarding your surfing habits?

OzFreelancer323 karma

Well my actual surfing habits are protected by Tor, which means they are hidden from prying eyes, so no I haven't been contacted about them. I am very open on the dark web about who I am and what I'm doing there - I use the name OzFreelancer on all of the markets and forums. I don't go to the sites that host child abuse images - you can't un-see that shit and I don't need it in my head.

As noted in another reply, I was contacted by Homeland Security on one of my visits to the US and taken for a "friendly" lunch.

ReginaTang98 karma

Em... how “friendly” was your lunch?

Do you mind tell us more about it?

OzFreelancer340 karma

I honestly can't. It was friendly enough but it is weird to hear casual comments that let you know just how much they know about you

ScamIam81 karma

Where did they take you? Did they just take you to a deli or Applebee’s, or was it somewhere with actual good food?

OzFreelancer189 karma

It was similar to an Applebees - do they call them diners, or pubs in the USA, can't remember. It was just a place near the courthouse

crank1off8 karma

Yes!!!! This is what I want to hear. How did that start? How did it go from the beginning to end! I've hit some sites by climbing down rabbit holes and been mortified I was certain I'd be arrested.

Also- how did homeland know you were visiting?

OzFreelancer23 karma

I honestly can't say anything about the lunch itself. They follow me on twitter, but also I was going that time for a specific court case and they knew i'd be there

Observante80 karma

I mean, forgive my total ignorance, but what are the dangers of clicking the random onion button?

OzFreelancer208 karma

It's about 25% likely to take you straight to a child porn site

SAGNUTZ594 karma

What are some of the most prevalent uses of the dark web that ARENT all shady and nefarious?

OzFreelancer1306 karma

We might be getting into semantics here, but people use Tor, which is the most possible darknet that is used to access the dark web, just for private browsing and ensuring that commercial interests aren't following them everywhere to bombard them with ads for some thing they looked up.

Some of the news organizations have a dark web presence so that whistleblowers can upload information safely. Even the CIA has a site on the dark web so that people can anonymously tip off matters of national security.

Other than that, there are just forums, where you don;t have to worry that every single stupid thing you post will be saved in posterity forever, to be trotted out years later when you run for congress or something

nonsenseical409 karma

How do you detach yourself from your work? I'm an investigator for a law firm and I've had a lot of difficult working on wrongful death cases recently. Also, how did you first end up getting published? Any tips for people interested in that field? Thanks!

OzFreelancer552 karma

I don't detach. When I was researching hurtcore, it was harrowing and affected me deeply. Writing that part of the book was a very slow process because I just couldn't be in that headspace for very long at a time. Once the book was written I didn't go back there.

I already had a reputation as a blogger and a freelance journalist when i pitched my book on Silk Road. I got an agent and it was auctioned off, with Pan MacMillan getting the rights. At the time, Silk Road was still going strong, and the book I wrote was about this new frontier of drug dealing that was changing the world. I was writing it "from the inside" as I had been an active part of the community for two years. However, right as I submitted the final manuscript to my publisher, Silk Road was busted and Ross Ulbricht arrested, so i had to quicking change the narrative to a "Rise and Fall" thing!

prodijal69379 karma

Was there ever something on the dark web that made you surprised ( in a good way) and smile ?

OzFreelancer1270 karma

So many things. Back in the day of the original Silk Road, I became obsessed with the forums, the people behind it, the intelligent discourse about the War on Drugs and philosophy. I found it amusing that drug dealers ran sales and giveaways. There were book clubs and movie clubs.

One of the most important people from that era was Dr Fernando Cauevilla, who became a member of Silk Road as "DoctorX". He was a real doctor who provided genuine, free, non-judgmental advice about drug use to the members of the site. It was quite an amazing time.

LateExercise0209 karma

Book/movie clubs on the silk road?

OzFreelancer488 karma

Yeah, they would set reading and then everyone would come back and discuss the book, or they would have a time when everyone watched the same movie at the same time and chatted about it in real time

LongPorkPi121 karma

Haha that's amazing! I don't suppose you remember any of the books in question?

OzFreelancer253 karma

They used to be a lot of philosophy books, especially on agorism. A Lodging of Wayfaring Men was one of the books. I remember V for Vendetta on a movie night

McNasty42093 karma

Did Ulbricht get taken down the way we were told in the news? What happened to all the Bitcoins?

OzFreelancer185 karma

His arrest went down the way we were told in the news. How they located the server has never been disclosed (other than a fanciful explanation that NOBODY could believe). This explanation may be tested if Variety Jones runs a Fourth Amendment argument at his trial

The bitcoin in the wallet on Ross' computer was auctioned off by the Feds. He may have other bitcoin wallets stashed somewhere but nobody knows

Eyesandheart365 karma

Did you ever do any writing on Brian Farrell and his role in Silk Road 2.0? I was Brian's cellmate for all of 2017 at Sheridan Federal Prison and heard all of his crazy stories. Was just curious as to the validity of them all.

OzFreelancer243 karma

DoctorClu! I did write briefly about him in Silk Road, but it wasn't all positive. I remember being frustrated by the shitshow that was Silk Road 2.0 in the beginning, right after SR1 shut and when DPR2 took off and Defcon got all dramatic. It settled down after a bit and lasted a year, when it was revealed THEY HAD A FUCKING UNDERCOVER HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICER ON STAFF THE WHOLE TIME. But yeah, anyhow, they are probably true. I'd love to hear them :)

mayomayo24321 karma

What are some of the best things about the dark web? And can anyone get on it? Things you can buy that you can’t buy normally online?

OzFreelancer533 karma

I really enjoy some of the forums, especially the psychonaut forums where people who like to trip on psychedelics get together and talk drugs and philosophy. There's a real "be kind to one another" vibe.

Getting on the dark web is easy, but not getting scammed when buying things takes a lot of homework. Yes, you can buy most things, but the most popular things are drugs and digital goods, i.e. things that depend on repeat custom and are easily transferable from seller to buyer

assassassandtitties209 karma

are "red rooms" actually a prevalent thing, or just a widespread misconception or rumor? I ask in part because it's very easy to see, for instance, Mexican cartels dismembering people alive, etc, just on the clearnet. Hell, a couple days ago I saw a video posted of a cartel member cutting out a dude's heart while the guy was alive, and he ATE it. He fucking ATE it. So it seems plausible...

OzFreelancer315 karma

The most popular myth of all is Red Rooms, where people – usually women – are tortured to death live on camera while those who have paid to watch type in torture commands in a chat box. Think the movie Hostel, with webcams. In this sense these have never been proven to exist. I get where you are coming from with the cartels, and the recent news item where they found those shipping containers set up with torture rooms freaked me out and made me wonder!

There is some truth to this rumour, but the execution is not like you see in the movies. Most notably, because it involves children, not adults abused on demand for paying pedophiles, but not to the point of death

assassassandtitties134 karma

The news about those shipping containers really made me speculate, since for every one person who gets caught doing something evil, there must be at least several more people who are very honed in their 'profession' doing the same evil deeds and worse, yet who evade being captured for decades. Anyway, based on morbid things I've seen, karma comes around eventually...

OzFreelancer217 karma

I know, right? It really freaked me out, and then when I read that they already had intended victims for them but the police got to them first and put them in protected custody.. IMAGINE SEEING THOSE PICTURES AND KNOWING YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE IN THEM!! I would retire to a deserted island somewhere

assassassandtitties101 karma

Your line of work could easily result in something like C-PTSD down the road a little ways. I have a morbid curiosity, and have seen worse than those shipping containers had to offer. I'm sure you have as well. So one more question from you, if you don't mind: what are some proactive approaches to mental health you take to safeguard your sanity?

OzFreelancer216 karma

A lot of wine. Cuddle my dog

wofo38 karma

When I saw the thing about the shipping container my mind immediately went to organized crime or espionage. Have they definitely decided it was a psychopath kind of thing?

OzFreelancer81 karma

No, it was garden-variety drug dealers who were going to use it as a torture room to extract money, drugs and/or information from rival drug gangs

vamos2028 karma

Weren’t those shipping containers in the Netherlands?

OzFreelancer31 karma

Yep

wad116567 karma

“...it involves children, not adults abused on demand for paying pedophiles...”

So who is getting abused? Adults or children? Or no one? Are people paying pedophiles to abuse children or not? I remember looking into investigations of video footage where pedophiles abused children

OzFreelancer26 karma

Yes, there is made-to-order abuse of children livestreamed to paying pedophiles. It is peer-to-peer though, through encrypted messaging, not as a "show" that anyone can pay to watch and take part in, which is what red rooms are. Also they don't end in murder, which red rooms do

UnidentifiedTron205 karma

I know law enforcement has to delve into the predator side of the dark web. With what you've seen do you think it should be mandatory or an industry standard that law enforcement officials seek professional help? I couldnt imagine investigating that daily and not thinking less of humanity at some point.

OzFreelancer635 karma

I'm pretty sure they do. I worked for Legal Aid for a while, and i know there were pretty strict rules in place for the lawyers who had to defend child abusers.

When I was at the trial for Lux, owner of Hurt2theCore, I met a cop whose job it was to watch all the videos and befriend the predators in an attempt to get them to slip up and reveal something of themselves. She said she had a little filing cabinet in her brain where she put all that stuff, and that making an arrest made it all worthwhile. She had made several arrests personally. She was a sex offender's worst nightmare :)

anonmooseanon201 karma

Iirc you attended the trial of the person behind the horrific hurt core website that was exposed a few years back. I was wondering if there was anything in particular that happened during the trial that particularly shocked or horrified you that isn't really public knowledge or talked about? Reactions from the judge or perpetrator during the trial etc.

As I remember it the guy was a fairly young loner who lived with his parents but would probably never have been expected to be behind the horrific vile things which he was found to be.

Also, how did you get into investigative journalism/writing?

OzFreelancer329 karma

I wrote in one of the other replies above about the little mute girl that has stayed with me. Also, at the insistence of the prosecution, the judge had to watch "Daisy's Destruction" which was a video of torture of a toddler. He put it off for two days and when he came back he was white. He didn't have the sound on, which is considered the worst part, but he still looked shell-shocked. I don't envy him.

I'll cut'n'paste re your last question: I was in London, working for one of the most conservative law firms in the world when the Global Financial Crisis hit. I liked the job but it struck me when people were losing their livelihoods that I was working for the bad guys. I'd always wanted to be a writer so when I came back to Australia I quit law and enrolled in a writing course planning to be a novelist, but I discovered I was better at journalism. I first wrote for newspapers here about Silk Road and it grew from there

anonmooseanon89 karma

Thanks for the reply.. that really must've been horrific for all involved from investigation to trial and for all of the victims (apart from the scum responsible of course).

I guess it would be naive to assume that the end of this site did anything other than drive this depraved community even further underground. That is the part which is really scary to me but I suppose all we can do is have faith that the authorities are always close on the tail.

Thank you for your work on reporting on this and raising this stuff more into the public consciousness and making people more aware of what kind of evil still lurks.

OzFreelancer213 karma

It was the most disturbing two days of my life, made all the worse because they read out hours of interactions from the site where the children still had not been identified or the predators caught.

Hurt2theCore was not the last site of its kind and there are still hurtcore sites to this day on the dark web. The one hopeful thing is that there are international task forces that seem to work together really well (unlike when it comes to drugs and every law enforcement agency wants to take the lead and they all withold info from each other). There are a lot of resources allocated to identifying predators and their victims. Sometimes this has involved some very controversial tactics, such as taking over the sites and letting them run, so that they can use social engineering techniques to identify those who are using the sites and who are actually abusing children

voiceinheadphone71 karma

So daisys destruction is real? Was it referred to by that name court? I always thought it was a myth

OzFreelancer233 karma

Yes, Daisy's Destruction is real, it was referred to by name in court and the judge had to watch the 12 minutes of it that were hosted on Hurt2theCore.

The "myth" part is that it shows a murder. The toddler, Daisy, lived, though she suffered such horrific injuries she will never be able to bear children. Hopefully she was young enough that she will grow up without the memory.

However, Scully did murder at least one child, whose body was found under the floorboards of his house. it is not known whether he filmed her murder as no video evidence of it has come to light.

voiceinheadphone74 karma

Thanks for answering. I actually watched a really good video on Hurt2theCore on youtube once, I think it was by a guy called Nexpo. It was really detailed and informative about the whole case - I forgot those details. Thanks again for replying, this AMA is really informative!

OzFreelancer138 karma

I think I recall that one, it was from a few years ago.

An excellent podcast that came out recently is "Hunting Warhead", highly recommend a listen. It is a tough listen, but exceptionally well-told and respectfully handled

Anagramee183 karma

What do folks talk about in the child predator forums? Do they like give each other advice on how to improve their craft?

OzFreelancer365 karma

Yes, quite literally. The give each other tips on how not to get caught, how to edit out incriminating details in videos, how to drug children, techniques for convincing kids not to tell etc

core_blaster390 karma

That's honestly completely horrifying

OzFreelancer288 karma

Many a time bile rose up in my throat

Tris-Von-Q88 karma

I'm not sure if you're familiar with "Pam" who gave the information for a Cracked article that has stuck with me every single day since it was published. Do you know if "Sarahthecunt" has been identified or is still alive and well in these forums uploading cp of her children?

OzFreelancer83 karma

I read the article back in the day, but I don't know anything about Pam or Sarahthecunt

asleepattheworld108 karma

Given your insight into how predators operate, do you have any advice for parents on protecting their kids?

OzFreelancer705 karma

I'll cut'n'paste a response i gave to someone else about this, because it was something that really stuck out to me:

The one thing I found really interesting when I was lurking the forums of the child predators was their frustration about how children are now taught from a very young age that certain touching and acts are wrong and that they shouldn't keep certain secrets. It came up over and over again that they could not abuse certain children because they knew those children had someone they would tell. It was pretty clear that education was a child's best defence against getting abused. Kids who speak up and who have close relationships with one or more people they are likely to confide in

Mooglekunom129 karma

Hi, there! This has been fascinating to read; thank you so much for sharing!

I'm curious: why do you think so many people who don't want to engage with disgusting and illegal content like hurtcore find it so interesting to read about? Do you have any insight into your readership and the ethics associated with reading about these kind of topics?

OzFreelancer233 karma

I think morbid fascination with the dark is exceedingly common - just look at how many people can't get enough about serial killers! In some ways it is probably a self-defense mechanism - the vast majority of true-crime readers are women. People like to be armed with knowledge. We also like to be spooked and scared.

As for my books, I don't really go into much gory detail, but the horror still shines through

Tintin1902124 karma

I heard somewhere that you foster dogs. Is that something you do to counter all the terrible humans you encounter in your research - everyone knows how dogs are better than people. How many dogs have you fostered and which one was your favourite?

OzFreelancer497 karma

After my dog died I knew I didn't want to have another dog as I wanted to travel more. So I thought fostering dogs would be the answer as you give them love for a few weeks and then they go to their forever home. My first foster, Roy, was a big fat failure and now he lives here and sleeps in our bed and is the most spoiled dog alive

suckmyhugedong79 karma

Did you then just decide to quit travelling? I don't know anything about Roy, but I already think I love him.

OzFreelancer204 karma

Nah, he has family he can stay with when I go away, but any major travelling has been thwarted by COVID for now anyway. I'm in a hard lockdown city.

And I'm sure Roy would love you too, u/suckmyhugedong

Rugby27542 karma

Have you forgotten one of the oldest and most sacred rules of reddit? If one mentions a pet they must pay the tax of showing all the said pet.

Tintin1902122 karma

How many times have you approached law enforcement with information and how many times has the approach resulted in action? and... are there times where you know something nefarious is happening but history and the evidence at hand tells you it's not worth the effort?

OzFreelancer456 karma

There is no point in approaching law enforcement to say "I have come across this site". If I've found it, you can guarantee law enforcement has found it as well.

The only time I've approached law enforcement was when I had information that they did not, which was when a friendly hacker provided me with a back door into the Besa Mafia murder-for-hire site. I got to see all the messages and orders etc. Of course LE knew about the site, but they did not have the details of the people who had hits taken out on them. We tried desperately to tell police in several countries that real people had paid real money to have other real people killed, but they just weren't interested. We sounded like crazy people talking about dark web hitmen, who were scams anyway and nobody was dead, so why should they be interested? They became much more engaged when one of the people WE HAD PREVIOUSLY TOLD THEM ABOUT later turned up dead

jpredd97 karma

Are you not scared about retaliation from the Mafia? I'm scared about your safety just reading this!

OzFreelancer189 karma

It's all good. Besa Mafia is a scammer, not actual mafia :)

jetsfan8361 karma

By law enforcement, do you mean only local or else the big agencies? I feel like I wouldn't tell my local police department because they wouldn't really know what to do. It would have to the the bigger agencies.

OzFreelancer223 karma

FBI in US. NCA in UK. AFP in Australia Nobody was very interested, although the FBI did visit at least one of the targets to let her know she was a target. She still wound up dead

Blizzxx44 karma

But Besa Mafia was proven fake so did the guy hire another hitman to kill that guy who died?

OzFreelancer106 karma

He did it himself

PolarisNeo119 karma

Is there anything that really concerns you about the dark web? Some of the things already discussed are beyond barbaric and that is only the stuff that has been found out about and been picked up by the media and your fantastic work.

Do you think the public should expect worse and more horrific revelations from the dark web or is it just "more of the same" for lack of a better term and do you think the authorities are getting better in shutting this inhumanity down and catching the people responsible?

OzFreelancer320 karma

I am definitely not against people taking back their online privacy and I actually think that buying drugs from the darknet markets is a safer and more sensible option than buying them from the dodgy dealer down the road. However the one thing that is really disturbing is that the dark web has provided a place for child predators to find each other and form communities where they support and egg each other on. Imagine a few years ago, someone who was into hurtcore could never tell anyone else and would be unlikely to ever come across another person with the same perversions. Now it is as simple as finding the relevant site on the dark web. When there are suddenly hundreds of people who all think and act in the same way, it normlalizes what they are doing.

One of the guys who got caught, Matthew Falder, was a sadist who used to crowdsource "ideas" for torturing the children and teens he was blackmailing into doing heinous things for him online. But apparently he was a "normal" intelligent popular guy

MoonlessNightss47 karma

But how does everyone participate in those illigal sites without getting caught? You said in other comments that you tried to stay away from underaged sites because they were illegal. Can't they be tracked down, even with tor and a vpn? The thing that I don't understand is that even on the dark web people say you should stay away from illigal sites, but how are pedos not getting caught?

OzFreelancer129 karma

they are getting caught, but the way they are getting caught is through painstaking detective work, looking for clues in photos, befriending them online and getting them to reveal things about themselves (what is known as social engineering). It takes a long time and many resources.

I say don't go there because (a) it is illegal and (b) you really shouldn't want to go there

BlackLivesMatterss91 karma

Is the dark web subject to more racism than its counterpart, the world wide web?

OzFreelancer228 karma

There are some white power sites and that sort of thing and the chans are even more uncensored than the clearweb ones (4chan, 8chan) but to be honest they are the same cesspools in different spots. Drug forums don't seem to be very racist. I've seen worse on Twitter

Lexx2k89 karma

Do you fear that seeing all this stuff might turn you emotionally blunt?

I'm not watching any of this stuff on purpose (even the clearnet stuff), because I fear that the more you see of it, the more normal it gets, and ultimately, the more it will fuck you up. To quote the movie 8mm... "If you dance with the devil, the devil don't change. The devil changes you."

OzFreelancer105 karma

No, I can't even watch "3 Guys 1 Hammer" in its entirety, let alone look at the really dark materials on the dark web. When I was researching The Darkest Web, going into the predator forums did the opposite of making me blunt. It was the shortest section of the book but took the longest to write because it was so emotionally draining

Icthyophobia43 karma

I have to ask, what is "3 Guys 1 Hammer"?

OzFreelancer107 karma

It's a video of two teenagers murdering an innocent man with a hammer that went viral on the gore sites of the regular internet. It's truly horrible.

The teens killed over 20 people. I wrote about them in my book Psycho.com (excuse the plug)

Privateaccount840 karma

I’ve watched quite a few disturbing videos on the clear net. 3 guys one hammer being one of many. Doesn’t really effect me. I think some people are just able to watch that sorta thing without it effecting them at all.

OzFreelancer4 karma

I hope I never become a person who doesn't get affected by videos like that

Privateaccount8485 karma

Since you have a lot of experience with them online. Do you think pedophiles(not child abusers) should be treated as criminals, or as people suffering from a mental illness?

OzFreelancer330 karma

Contact offenders should be treated as criminals, because they are criminals. They have abused or hurt someone. Same with those who support the creation and dissemination of child abuse materials.

Pedophiles who do not act on their urges should be given as much help as humanly possible.

tadame31679 karma

Hi Eileen :) My question is about how you construct your Casefile episodes - I assume there is an extensive amount of outlining but do you write the final draft like a script specifically thinking about his voice? And about how long are they as far as - for example - does one hour equal 50-60 pages? Thank you.

OzFreelancer104 karma

I initially write them as if I'm writing an article or book, but then go back and edit them to be read out and yes, when I do that, I do have his voice in my head lol. One episode is usually around 12,000 words. It then goes to another editor who edits the episode to be even more "casefileaa' before it finally goes to Casey

TaylorSwiftsClitoris79 karma

Are there any mysterious or suspicious pages or communities that you haven’t been able to access? Anything that seems especially weird?

OzFreelancer168 karma

there are a lot of Russian communities that I can't access, mostly because I don't speak Russian. Some of the more technical hacking communities have entry barriers that I'm not technical enough to score an invite to

core_blaster33 karma

What sort of entry barriers?

OzFreelancer67 karma

Mostly proof of hacks carried out

violetmoonriot65 karma

What would you define the word "Safe" when it come to the internet (both www and dark web) world and are there any tips that I should follow to keep myself safe?

OzFreelancer129 karma

It really depends on what YOU mean by safe. Tor, which is the darknet that provides access to the dark web will keep you safe from prying eyes and surveillance.

If you mean keep your information safe, the old-fashioned advice is to never reuse your password and to enable 2-Factor authentication wherever you can. Your information is quite likely somewhere on the dark web thanks to high-profile hacks of major organizations, but provided you don't re-use usernmes and passwords, you really don't have to worry too much about it.

If you mean keeping yourself and/or any kid safe from predators, the only thing is to ensure you are educated about the approaches and methods they use.

HelMort56 karma

Ehy mine is a rare question: what do you know about art on dark web? I'm talking about the black market made of stolen important pieces from museums, art used as value to money laundry and other criminal affairs

I'm an artist and what I know is people don't think too much about the dark side of art and probably they need to open their eyes about

OzFreelancer47 karma

I really haven't come across much in the way of that. Some of the markets have an "art" section, but that is mostly blotter art

frstyle3454 karma

Given how much you know about the dark web, what kind of crazy awful nightmares have you had? This could be a really good one. Thank you

OzFreelancer151 karma

Probably the worst thing was delving into the forums where child predators gathered. I never looked at any videos or photos, but just seeing their discussions sickened me. The one thing that keeps coming back to me came out of the sentencing hearing that I attended of Lux, owner of Hurt2theCore, considered the most heinous website in history. In court they read out a conversation between him and an abuser who made videos of torture of the mute disabled child in his care. They were joking "at least she won't be able to tell anyone" . the abuser wasn't caught, at least by that stage

anti_body54 karma

What ever happened to the plural of mongoose storyline? it seems like after he was arrested in the united states, his case just fizzled away.

did you ever find out any more information about yuri after he cancelled the interview with a news program?

what happened with peter scully's case? i read that there was a fire where a lot of evidence against him was held and it all went up in smoke.

are there any character and/or personality storylines that you feel haven't been told or are still a complete mystery? eg. tony76

OzFreelancer80 karma

  1. He is still in the MCC in NY and awaiting trial. It has taken a long time because he had terrabytes of information to go through and things would have slowed down due to covid. I understand he is running the Fouth Amendment argument that Ulbricht probably should have run in the first place

  2. I last heard from Yura just a few weeks ago. He is still scamming. There are some more programs in the works about him

  3. Yes there was a very convenient fire, but he still got sentenced to life and i hope he rots hin hell

  4. I am madly curious to know what is happening with the extradition of James Ellingson, aka “MarijuanaIsMyMuse”, aka "redandwhite", MAYBE aka Tony76. I would LOVE to know that full story!

GarbageBagJuice29 karma

Wow, this shit is a blast from the past. I used to love following the darknetmarket drama.

Did you write about PoM and tony76 in one of your books? Ever since reddit shut down /darknetmarket I've been out of the loop.

OzFreelancer40 karma

Yes, I wrote about them in The Darkest Web

I was in touch with PoM/Mongoose when he went on a posting rampage on MyPlanetGanja, then visited him in Bangkok prison several times. Wrote all about it :)

GarbageBagJuice30 karma

I ordered it a few minutes ago, already reading. Thanks!

OzFreelancer31 karma

YAY! Thank you!

KingDiablo4351 karma

What’s one of your personal favorite investigations and what made it unique for you?

OzFreelancer165 karma

By far the Besa Mafia murder-for-hire case. What made it unique was that, first, I was provided a back door into the Besa Mafia site by a friendly hacker, so i had information that nobody else had. But then I became "friends" for want of a better word with the owner of the site, Yura. Besa Mafia, of course, was not killing anyone, but Yura made a LOT of money scamming would-be murderers out of their money. We entered into a weird relationship over the years where i would report on his activities and he would try every trick under the sun to stop me from doing so, so that he could keep scamming people. He even offered me a job, helping him, because he had become so busy. He also provided me with names and details of people who had hits taken out on them so I could pass them on to law enforcement.

It all became horribly real when one of the people who had a hit put out of them wound up dead. It wasn't Yura of course, but the guy had paid him $13K before giving up on the site and doing it himself. The thing was WE HAD TOLD THE FBI about the hit and the $13K and they visited the victim, but then put it into the too-hard basket when she couldn't think who might have paid that much to kill her.

KingDiablo4356 karma

Wow. That’s actually pretty cool. Reminds me of an old saying. “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”

OzFreelancer114 karma

It's a seriously bizarre relationship. When I was hired as a consultant by CBS for a 48 Hours expose on dark web hitmen, he actually agreed to meet me in London. But he thought that CBS was going to advertise his site as the real deal and he got excited and sent them details of two people who had hits put out on them. CBS sent them straight to the police and very shortly after two arrests were made and it was all over the news, where they called his site a scam. Yura got so pissed about it, he never turned up to our meeting. They had even hired an Academy Award-nominated master of disguise makeup artist to disguise him!

lastaccountgotlocked50 karma

How do you find things on the dark web without search engines?

OzFreelancer61 karma

There are a lot of entry sites, set up with links to the most popular places. You can generally get a link to one of them by browsing places like reddit. From there it is a matter of checking out different places, people will put links in forums etc.

I also use a Pastebin where people paste sites they have made/found, and a Fresh Onion site, which crawls all the newly-populated .onion addresses

Fakename99849 karma

How much these bad people really exist out there? Hundreds? Thousands? More?

OzFreelancer113 karma

It depends what you mean by bad. If you mean people who use the dark web to buy drugs (who I do not consider bad) then there are many many thousands. There are also thousands of people who deal in stolen information to make money.

Unfortunately there are also thousands of child predators and the dark web has provided a "safe space" for them to come together to share materials and "tips". I hope this is where most of the resources of law enforcement are concentrated

kopinsider48 karma

How did you move from being a corporate lawyer to researching and writing about dark web?

OzFreelancer73 karma

I was in London, working for one of the most conservative law firms in the world when the Global Financial Crisis hit. I liked the job but it struck me when people were losing their livelihoods that I was working for the bad guys. I'd always wanted to be a writer so when I came back to Australia I quit law and enrolled in a writing course planning to be a novelist, but I discovered I was better at journalism. I first wrote for newspapers here about Silk Road and it grew from there

The_Madukes25 karma

Speaking of Silk Road, what do you think about the life(s) time sentencing of Ross Ulbricht. Young guy with no possibility of parole for working the Website?

OzFreelancer81 karma

I think his sentence is manifestly excessive and he was not afforded due process in his trial. Unlike some of his superfans, I am absolutely positive he did try and order hits on the people threatening to expose his customers, but there was so much corruption involved in his case that he could never have been convicted of that. So they convicted him of the drug stuff and then sentenced him for the stuff they couldn't get him on, which I think goes against the very tenets of the judicial system. His sentence was purely to make an example of him.

I'll be very interested if Roger Clark (Ulbricht's mentor, Variety Jones) does run with the Fourth Amendment argument that many legal experts thing Ross should have gone with in the first place. Presumbly the FBI will have to come clean about how they located the server and the official story of that is plain ridiculous, so it is likely it was via illegsl means. As I understand the US legal system, this would make virtually all the evidence acquired after that inadmissible

MonjStrz24 karma

Eli5 for the lazy about silk road?

OzFreelancer90 karma

Silk Road was the first of the mass-marketed point'n'click drugs markets. It was developed in 2011 and was designed to emulate regular e-commerce platforms, bringing drug sellers and buyers together. Buyers would pay the money for their drugs to the site, which would hold it in escrow until the drugs arrived. Then the buyer would release the funds, the site would take a cut and send the rest to the seller. The buyer would rate the drugs/seller on price, packaging, quality, customer service etc. It ran for almost 3 years and turned over hundreds of millions of dollars

shutyourgob45 karma

Do you think human trafficking happens on the dark web? Last year (I think) there was a really bizarre story here in the UK about a model who was supposedly kidnapped to order, drugged and transported overseas by a group called "Black Death". The official story is that BD doesn't exist, and the kidnapper was a fantasist.

Is it likely that humans are bought and sold into slavery over the dark web?

OzFreelancer74 karma

There are no slick websites with auctions for slaves on the dark web, but I have no doubt that human traffickers use dark web encryption to communicate.

(here comes the second plug for the thread) - I wrote about the kidnap of Chloe Ayling and the Black Death Group in Murder on the Dark Web

elfalai44 karma

As an indie author, how have you sourced freelancers? Did you seek out those that have specific expertise or did you work with editors from your time as a traditionally published author?

OzFreelancer53 karma

I learned to do everything myself before I started outsourcing.

I work with a professional editor who happens to be a friend of mine from back when we did a writing course together. I've been doing my own covers, but now that I have some royalties coming in, I've engaged a professional cover artist from Reedsy to develop a brand and more professional-looking covers for me. It is the hardest thing to find people you really want to work with and who are in budget.

I still haven't got the hang of email lists, newsletters or a website - they are all in a total mess at the moment and I'd love to find someone who can do them, but again it is that problem of finding the right person who is within budget

freerideshareads43 karma

Out of all 9-5 jobs out there, why this? What’s your motive?

OzFreelancer86 karma

I got disenchanted by being a lawyer and I had wanted to be an author since childhood. The lawyering put me in a strong enough financial position that I could quit to do a uni course for a couple of years. My plan was to become a best-selling novelist, but my first chick-lit novel was nothing special. However, during the course, I found I did really well at journalism and was soon making a living as a freelance journo before I finished the course. My first major feature was on the Silk Road drugs market, which I had discovered thanks to a friend who was using it. Once I got in there I became fascinated by everything about it and started contacting the owner, users, vendors etc asking for stories (I was upfront about who I was). I began the first serious dark web blog - allthingsvice.com - and also became the go-to freelancer for Australian dark web stories. Then I pitched my first book and got a healthy advance for it.

I like working for myself, working from home and delving into things. Right now I have my dream job (though it wouldn't hurt to pay a bit more. I'm certainly not making anywhere near what I used to make lawyering, but I make enough to get by and I live pretty simply)

irunwithknives39 karma

I’m sure you’ve seen some really bad stuff, do you regularly talk to a therapist to help?

OzFreelancer68 karma

I've never seen a therapist (they don't really seem to be a thing in Australia they way they are in the US), but I have been known to unload on my partner and my dog

yohaneh80 karma

Yo, speaking as an Aussie, they absolutely are a thing, you can get them covered thru medicare, and I recommend it if you possibly can! Bro, therapy is awesome.

OzFreelancer116 karma

I'm not against therapy as a thing, but I've honestly never been so traumatised that I feel I need it. Also I had a bad experience with a psychologist after I watched my partner die in an accident - they suggested I find God, and I noped out of there

PsychoSemantics12 karma

Therapist is an American term- we call them psychs. And the one who told you to find God was terrible and out of line.

OzFreelancer13 karma

Yeah she didn't last long before I was over it. Also a doctor decided I needed Xanax, which was also a bad move, because what I really needed was to grieve and Xanax doesn't let you do that properly

emij2234 karma

  • After everything you've seen, does anything surprise you anymore or are you just numb to it at this point?

  • Do you think there should be more education/exposure about the dark web than there is now or would that just be counter-productive as people would just find another place to hide?

  • I'm curious to hear any favourite stories about the Psychonauts.

OzFreelancer167 karma

I am not numb and I hope I never become numb. I really don't visit the horrible dark places very often, unless I'm researching something specific, and even then I don't look at pictures or videos. Most of the crime is pretty benign - I'm not phased by people wanting a safer way to buy drugs.

I think there needs to be ongoing discussions about online activity and its misuse in general, but most crime still happens on the clearnet. The dark web is not nearly as large or prevalent as people fear.

For a long time, a dealer provided free LSD to anyone who wanted it for personal use (ie not sale) and to any organizations who were doing psychedelic therapy.

One psychonaut got busted and spent time in prison... only he still had bitcoin in a wallet and by the time he was released he was a millionaire. He would have just spent it on drugs otherwise :)

mokes31029 karma

This may have been answered by a previous post pertaining to native language barriers to specific sites on the dark web, but in your investigations, did you come across content/pages/forums from warzones? Middle East, Burma, Afghanistan, etc?

If yes, what was the most memorable bit?

OzFreelancer64 karma

There are loads of sites in foreign languages, but it is too difficult for me (a one-language numpty) to attempt to translate through AI, and it is not worth hiring a translator when they could just turn out to be Cat Facts

wofo21 karma

Around here nobody talks about the argument that increased regulation of the internet would help stop child predators. Is that true, and if so where do you fall on the Net Neutrality vs law enforcement spectrum?

OzFreelancer93 karma

No I don't think that's true at all. Child predators have been around much longer than the internet, and I would argue child abuse was more prevalent 50+ years ago when children were seen and not heard and it wasn't talked about. The dark web hasn't created more predators, it has just given them a new place to gather and hang out.

The one thing I found really interesting when I was lurking the forums of the child predators was their frustration about how children are now taught from a very young age that certain touching and acts are wrong and that they shouldn't keep certain secrets. It came up over and over again that they could not abuse certain children because they knew those children had someone they would tell. It was pretty clear that education was a child's best defence against getting abused.

Itzli16 karma

That's so interesting, thanks for the AMA! Can you remember any other thing that a child could do in order to protect himself from being abused?

What other characteristics do the abusers hate in potential victims?

OzFreelancer29 karma

That seems to be the main one. Kids who speak up and who have close relationships with one or more people they are likely to confide in

Og_dreamer16 karma

I've always wanted to check out the dark web, what is a normal day for you look like on there? Can you give me any tips on how to safely surf the dark web?

OzFreelancer31 karma

A normal day looks like me sitting at my desk writing things on my computer. When I'm researching a book or a case I venture away from my computer to trials and to interview people (at least I did pre-COVID)

There is nothing inherently unsafe in surfing the dark web. All the usual precautions you take surfing the clearweb apply. Don't visit any child exploitation sites - it will be pretty obvious that's what they are by the names/descriptions before you log in.

It is only when you want to do more than surfing - e.g. buying drugs etc - that you need to do a LOT of homework or you will absolutely get scammed

CumfartablyNumb15 karma

Has the exponential increase in Bitcoin value affected darknet dealers in any profound way? I can imagine that some drug dealers were sitting on quite a large sum of Bitcoin when the value shot up.

OzFreelancer33 karma

Crypto purists hate to admit it, but bitcoin would not be where it is today without Silk Road. It was sitting at less than a dollar when Silk Road began and the markets showed a robust use case for cryptocurrency and as the markets grew, so did the demand for bitcoin. It also provided real-life use data for those who were not interested in drugs but who weren't sure if it had practical application. When SR went down, Bitcoin was at about $650 and it continued to grow as adoption became more mainstream. There are many many stories of drug dealers (and at least one faux-hitman!) who gained most of their wealth not by selling the drugs, but by the growth in value of their bitcoin holdings

yohaneh10 karma

How was working on Casefile? What's the production process like? Which episodes did u do?? I have listened to... all of them....

OzFreelancer15 karma

I absolutely LOVE working for Casefile. I am a freelancer, so I source and write my own cases and then sell the scripts to Casefile. I've done at least a dozen, but some of my most popular are Amy Allwine, Mark & John, Ella Tundra, Leigh Leigh, Rebecca Schaeffer...

As for the production process, once I have sold the script to them, a staff member edits them and then they are passed on to Casey to narrate. After that, they go to Mike for sound editing, music etc. They are the best team ever

yohaneh6 karma

Oh, Leigh Leigh was so well written!! How do you choose which stories to write? Do you just pick true crime you're interested in?

OzFreelancer8 karma

Thank you! I have a huge list of potential episodes. Any time I come across an interesting crime on reddit, or in the news or wherever I make a note of it. Then I just pick one when it comes time to write a new script.

Sometimes I've been personally involved (e.g. Amy Allwine), gone to trials etc. Those are always the best ones

plutopete8 karma

Hi Eiley, your twitter just reminded me of this AMA :)
What are your thoughts on bitcoin?
And would you prefer to be paid in crypto or fiat?

OzFreelancer16 karma

OOOOH, I know that name! Love & Light to you!

I like Bitcoin and I wish I had a whole lot of it and like many many people, I wish I had kept the first crypto I bought at something like $4 a coin :D I do not have a whole lot of it but I do have a little bit. I like the philosophy behind it and in theory it should change the world. However the reality is that the vast majority of it is concentrated in a very few hands which allows for market manipulation and stops it being useful as a post-fiat currency.

As long as I'm getting paid, I'm pretty happy!

anti_body4 karma

do you personally believe there was/is any truth to the "defense" (story) that DPR was a title handed down to different admins for the original silk road, or was it just a convenient defense?

do you have any theories as to who satoshi nakamoto is?

besides the original SR, are there any other darkweb markets that you think have a good enough story to turn into a book? eg sheep market?

i've seen you talk a little about the child predator forums, and (as with h2tc) noted are mainly populated by males. i'm curious if you've ever encountered females on such forums/websites (eg. btfk)

OzFreelancer9 karma

No. There was a time that I believed the person posting on the forums as DPR changed, but the ownership and administration of the market I believe never changed hands. Variety Jones is claiming a part ownership (which may or may not be true) but I believe that is so he can run a Fourth Amendment argument

So many theories have some credibility to them, but no one theory ticks all the boxes. Highly recommend the 3-part youtube deep dive by Barely Sociable

I'm not sure any one market has the story that Silk Road had, but I would like to write a definitive history that encompasses the most compelling features of all the markets. Backopy of BMR apparently got away clean. The admins of Atlantis got wind of a security issue and closed shop, trying to warn DPR. AlphaBay ended in Alexander Cazes death in a Bangkok prison cell. Then everyone flocked to Hansa, which by that time was being run by law enforcement. Evolution ended in the most brazen exit scam, followed by a bizarre cloak'n'dagger situation played out right here on reddit. The WSM/DDW follow-the-money case. And these are just some that come right off the top of my head. I just need a publisher to provide me an advance I can live off while I write it!

There were a very few people on the forums who identified as female (obvs anyone can be anyone on a dark web forum) and there have been one or two arrests of women in relation to dark web child pornography. Peter Scully's female assistant who carried out some of the torture was originally one of his victims, turned into a sadist.

b0xf0x134 karma

Do you find any good things on the dark web? Happy stuff that gives people hope? Or just the trash?

OzFreelancer13 karma

I like the psychonaut communities. They just want peace, love and mungbeans for everybody

that_dude554 karma

How accurate are the legends?

OzFreelancer13 karma

Any legends in particular? For a lowdown copied from a post I made in another forum:

1Red Rooms  The one that is most persistent is the myth of the "Red Room" - live streaming of torture/rape that ends in the murder of the victim and which people can pay to watch, or even bid to type in commands for the torturer to carry out (highest bid wins!). The most famous was the “ISIS Red Room” pictured above, where people could provide instructions to torture captured terrorists - you can read what happened here.

People have this idea of Hostel with webcams exist all over the dark web, but you just need an invite to get into them. It's ridiculous. They don't exist. They certainly wouldn't exist on Tor. But people are desperate to believe and they always come back with "You can't prove they don't exist, people are crazy, therefore they must exist." Picture my eyes rolling here.

2.Hitman sites

I don't think many people are taken in by the hitmen sites anymore, though the press loves playing up the fact that there are sites offering up hitman services. But every single one of them has turned out to be a scam, especially Besa Mafia, the one that did the most marketing. Again, you can read about it at the same link as above.

3.Exotic animals  People are always asking where they can find markets for exotic animals. Obviously the illegal trade in exotic animals exists, and some communications and transactions may well take place over Tor, but there are no markets like the drug markets where you can go and look at a picture and then put a tiger or ocelot or something into your basket and buy it with bitcoin.

SO WHAT DOES HAPPEN ON THE DARK WEB?

1.People buy and sell drugs.

The drug markets are more busy than ever. You have probably heard of Silk Road, the most famous online drug market that got busted a few years ago and the owner sent to prison for two consecutive life terms? A lot of people thought that was the end of drugs being sold on the dark web. In fact, dark web sales of drugs have tripled since the shutdown of Silk Road.

The reason people buy drugs this way is that for many they offer a safer alternative for people who are going to do drugs anyway. There is no possibility of any violence. The vast majority of the time a buyer knows exactly what they are getting, because of the feedback and rating system. That's not the case in a nightclub, or even friends-of-friends, where you just blindly accept that the pill, powder or tab is what the seller says it is.

2.People buy and sell other illegal things

Mostly they buy and sell stolen credit cards and financial information, fake IDs (though lots of these are scams), personal information, “dumps” of hacked data and fraud-related items. For a long time, a seller was making a fortune selling fake discount coupons that really worked.

3.People access and create childporn  Unlike the other markets, the CP market is generally not for money, but rather they are groups who swap vile images and videos for free. The worst of the worst is called “hurtcore’. Thankfully, most of the people behind the worst sites have been arrested and put in jail.

4.People talk about stuff

There are plenty of sites, forums and chatrooms where people talk about all sorts of things - conspiracies, aliens, weird stuff. They take advantage of the anonymity.

5.People anonymously release information

Whistleblowers use the dark web to release information and make sure their identities won't be compromised. You will find Wikileaks, for example, on the dark web.

6.People surf the web anonymously

The number 1 thing people use the dark web for is just to surf the web completely anonymously. Not everybody wants to be tracked by advertisers.

WorldWarRiptide4 karma

What do you think of QAnon?

OzFreelancer16 karma

Wackjob conspiracy

1365chivan1 karma

What’s the one lingering unanswered question you have about SR?

OzFreelancer2 karma

I am hanging out for Joel Ellingson to go to trial so that I can find out once and for all whether redandwhite, lucydrop and Tony76 are one and the same person.

There are several people who I got to "know" by their handles who I wonder about from time to time, but mostly I hope they are safe and well and i don't want to track them down or expose them

1365chivan1 karma

Eileen, I am fangirling PRE-TTY hard right now. Talking SR and Tony76 with you is how I imagine it feels to talk to a royal correspondent about Prince Andrew 😅

Ellingson being all three would be a very neat end to an otherwise insane story. Part of me wants to pin Oracle in with that trio too but that’s mostly a desperate attempt from me to add another layer to the madness. I miss the twists and turns that came with the rise and fall of SR.

From your own experience - would you agree with the idea that more than one person staffed the DPR account?

Thanks for the reply!

OzFreelancer3 karma

Ha! You have no idea what it is like when I find someone who really knows about this stuff and can have informed conversations about it. I latch onto them and don't let go. The very BEST was meeting up with DPR's three deputies (SSBD in Australia, Inigo in US and Libertas in Ireland) so I could actually have conversations with people who knew more than I did! Variety Jones was cool too, but the conversation couldn't flow too freely thanks to him being incarcerated in Bangkok prison at the time.

I think others sometimes posted from the forum account, but Ulbricht kept a vice-like grip on his market account

1365chivan1 karma

I can imagine it’s so satisfying and exciting to get those tidbits of info that piece the jigsaw together. The bedlam that played out over the forum in the aftermath was a cloud of paranoia and adrenaline that kept me refreshing pages for days. Would love to hear accounts from SSBD, Inigo and Libertas from this time.

One last question: what were your thoughts when the Chloe Ayling story first broke?

OzFreelancer1 karma

I assumed it was a publicity stunt. I don't think that any more. I guess I can't blame her for milking her kidnapping for publicity in the aftermath, though I don't think she does herself any favors the way she goes about it sometimes

dr4conyk1 karma

Is there any way parents can keep their kids safe from this without being helicopter parents?

OzFreelancer8 karma

I'll cut'n'paste a response i gave to someone else about this, because it was something that really stuck out to me:

The one thing I found really interesting when I was lurking the forums of the child predators was their frustration about how children are now taught from a very young age that certain touching and acts are wrong and that they shouldn't keep certain secrets. It came up over and over again that they could not abuse certain children because they knew those children had someone they would tell. It was pretty clear that education was a child's best defence against getting abused. Kids who speak up and who have close relationships with one or more people they are likely to confide in

cheesefries16161 karma

Hi! First off I'd like to say that I find what you do quite fascinating and would love to do something like that in the future.

My question is in regards to art and other forms of artistic expression on the dark web. Is it true that the dark web is a place where you can also find awesome things such as art and literature?

OzFreelancer5 karma

Not really, because all that stuff is readily available on the clearweb. There are sites like the Imperial Library of Trantor, which is a pirate site for books, where you can read thousands of books for free, but that's really no different to The Pirate Bay. Some people share their LSD art, but again, nothing you won't find on the clearweb

lvans111 karma

Have you heard of the missing 411 phenomenon and if so, does it have anything to do with it?

OzFreelancer4 karma

No, I don't know what that is sorry

opendomain1 karma

would you a browser that could absolutely guarantee anonymity is good or bad?

for example, if could prevent a dictator from filtering or finding a rebel, the same browser would prevent finding people that post bad pictures of children.

do you think a browser could be made that is mostly good? some sort of backdoor, but very expensive in computing resources to break?

using the browser may allow "victimless crimes" such as tax avoidance, or virtual border crossing to that may be a crime in the users region but not in another.

OzFreelancer5 karma

I am a strong believe in privacy and I think it is time people were able to reclaim their digital footprint. The same crimes are being committed, they are just happening in a different place. In some instances, most notably drug dealing, the dark web is helping to eradicate some crime - e.g violence that is sometime associated with drug deals, and cutting out the middlemen - often violent drug dealers - from transactions

charliethemandog1 karma

Have you ever interviewed AK/Q?

OzFreelancer1 karma

I don't know who AK/Q is. Should I interview them?

charliethemandog2 karma

Abaolutely! Quantik had a massive pressed xanax operation that was run in Canada and shipped mostly to the US. He also went by AlpraKing after a short break. Probably a few other names as well. He did an AMA on Reddit you can find somewhere

OzFreelancer2 karma

Oh, I know AlpraKing! I think I may have chatted with him, but not properly interviewed him

thatnameagain1 karma

Have you heard of "The Primarch System" rumor of the dark web? Sounds downright silly to me. But I'm curious if anyone who spends time on the deep web actually takes it seriously, or if as an idea it is connected to anything serious at all.

OzFreelancer2 karma

Nah, up there with the Shadow Web and Mariana's Web. There's always people who want to find out where the "deeper" "more secret" "really dark" stuff is. To them I say what, hurtcore isn't dark enough for you?

brownboifromdablock1 karma

What does it take in terms of degrees and experience to get into this business?

OzFreelancer3 karma

Nothing official. I was a lawyer, but that had no bearing on what I do now (I did corporate law). I didn't have any official credentials when I began as a freelance journalist, though later I got a diploma of professional writing and editing. Anyone can be an author, provided they can write

[deleted]1 karma

[deleted]

OzFreelancer1 karma

I have no idea what you mean? Like private crypto key duplicators? Doesn't that defeat the purpose?

[deleted]1 karma

[deleted]

OzFreelancer2 karma

I think you are after a locksmith

[deleted]1 karma

[deleted]

OzFreelancer1 karma

Some of the Fraud sellers might possibly be able to do it, but it's not something I recall coming across

Cherria_Law_11 karma

how do I get on the dark web from a chromebook? will the full anonymity thing be added to google devices or is it only Mac and Windows?

OzFreelancer2 karma

Go to torproject.org Choose appropriate download Voila. You're on the dark web

InfiniteChicken1 karma

Besides drugs and sex crimes, what else is going on in the dark web? Are there other interesting nooks and crannies?

OzFreelancer2 karma

I often post screenshots of bizarre sites I find on my Twitter. However, the main uses for the dark web are drugs, digital/fraud goods and child exploitation

Poobeard76-3 karma

Who do you think would win in a fight?

Donald Trump with a golf club vs. 15 two-foot-tall mini-Hitlers

OzFreelancer3 karma

Trump would get worn out after a couple of swings so my money is on the Hitlers