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sapiophile42 karma

As a moderator of /r/DarkNetMarkets and a user and researcher of the dark web for more than ten years, you do not actually have any idea what you're talking about. You are repeating an entirely fabricated media myth. Those things may be advertised on the dark web, but they're literally all fake scams ("payment up front!") or law enforcement stings (except for CC#s - those are actually there, and maybe an occasional passport). You would do well not to repeat this nonsense - it makes you seem quite ignorant.

There are essentially zero transactions on the dark web for anything that doesn't fit inside a standard USPS shipping box, or a .zip file. Don't buy into the hype, it's ridiculous, and very costly to the activists, reporters, dissidents, and others who rely on anonymity technologies to make the world a better place.

Take this nonsense back to /r/NoSleep

sapiophile42 karma

SR was not shut down because of any anonymity failure of Tor*. The alleged operator of SR slipped up and exposed himself.

* Maybe.

There were likely certain attacks attempted against SR and potentially its users, and we cannot know how many of them may have succeeded or not. We also cannot know whether or not such attacks contributed to the SR takedown, because even if they had, a convincing cover story would be created to keep people using a broken Tor. Further and further down the security rabbit hole we go... Kudos to /u/sheldonopolis

sapiophile15 karma

Ah cool, so you get into the old cypherpunk history - that's great, it's an awesome story. Any interviews with the big players of that era, maybe a recap of the absolutely awesome story of PGPi and the like?

sapiophile13 karma

As an observer without any kind of knowledge in the transactions happening in the dark web, how do you estimate the number of transactions of anything, be it drugs or passports, without getting into anecdotal evidence, since it's essentially decentralized? Genuinely curious.

There's a few factors at play. The first, and most important, is common sense. Let's examine the two most exceptional claims individually:

  • "Hitmen" are extraordinarily vulnerable to stings and set-ups, because their activities require a physical presence on the ground at a specific place and (approximate) time. While it's not impossible for them to avoid capture, it would be ridiculous to accept a contract from a client who is extremely likely to be Law Enforcement. Contract killers operate in and rely extensively upon strong, personal networks and relationships of utmost trust and discretion, and this is entirely to avoid getting set-up. Opening such a business to the world at large would be disastrous and short-lived, for our would-be murderer.

  • Human traffickers are in a similar boat, but in their case, the chance of evading apprehension drops basically to zero. Any kind of physical exchange point is an obvious and extremely vulnerable position, and stakeouts and containments are a tried-and-true law enforcement tactic that achieve their goals with remarkable consistency. Furthermore, the personal networks for these sorts of "businesses" are even more wide-reaching and extensive than those of "hitmen," and tragically, the market for their services is so exceptionally large that there is little need or incentive to market to random, anonymous strangers on the internet. They can simply continue to pump people through their networks with little concern for the next client.

But that's just the surface considerations. There are many others - like the fact that these are both extremely expensive activities, for the client, and are therefore a perfect target for a scam. In the darknet markets, a system of third-party Escrow to hold funds until delivery of the goods is the norm (multisignature Bitcoin transactions notwithstanding), with the only common alternative to be full payment up front. So who would possibly entrust an escrow system with, say, $30,000? Or who would be confident making an up-front payment of that amount? Even if these "vendors" claim to want "half up front, half upon completion," they still make a pretty penny by just taking the initial 50% and running - and they can repeat that a thousand times over (assuming there's enough suckers out there - all credit to misinformed nonsense like the OP's comment). Even with third-party escrow, both parties would have to place an enormous degree of trust in that service - and it would have to be a service without any moral scruples whatsoever. But we have seen time and time again that darknet markets who act as escrow agents are more than willing to "exit scam" and run off with an accumulation of users' and vendors' funds, and it's rare that they wait even as long as a year or so to do this - the minimum length of time to develop a large user base and the trust of the community. So, it's fairly obvious that such an escrow agent simply doesn't exist, or if they do, it's unlikely that anyone would trust them.

Then there's the other obvious fact: the market is quite small, especially by human trafficker standards. There are probably only a few tens of thousands of people worldwide who actually take the time and effort to use the DNMs regularly (there have been some fascinating and fairly robust censuses taken). Of these, it's reasonable to assume that at least 98% of them are only interested in drugs or hacking tools and credit card dumps. Drug users are very abundant, and very resourceful. So then we're talking about a potential target market that's comparitively tiny. And then narrow that field of potential clients even further by the vast majority who would never entrust that kind of money to anyone in this business, for the reasons stated above, then further still to account for the (reasonable) lack of faith in the absolute security of these anonymity technologies and their endpoint security, reduced further still by the fact that just finding a "reputable" vendor for such things is nearly impossible, thanks to the mutability of sites like The Hidden Wiki which are literally constantly being edited by scam artists and phishers, and you're talking about a practical handful of people. It's simply not enough demand to actually cater to the dozen or two dark web sites that advertise these things. And that's because those sites aren't actually selling anything - they're just taking people's money.

There are many other reasons, but I imagine that the point has been made. Perhaps, in another decade or so, if these technologies and markets gain much wider adoption, that some of these concerns might become valid - but at the moment, it's nothing but fear-mongering and clickbait.

sapiophile9 karma

For those not in the know, Mr. T's life is really worth reading about. And you'll learn why he had all those gold chains, and why he stopped wearing them...