The part of the Russian community that deals with cyber fraud, sale of personal information, and malware among other things, distrusts the deep web. Although several Russian vendors have joined over the past few months, the majority of them have yet to come to register to darknet marketplaces like Agora, AlphaBay, Nucleus, BlackBank etc. because with the bigger base of customers, there are more risks involved – under covers, media exposure. The risk increases even more if the website is focused on an English-speaking audience. Currently many Russian vendors simply refuse to serve English-speaking customers not because they do not understand, but because there is less risk involved, and it has now become a business practice.
Before discussing how darknetmarkets are perceived, we have to first understand how their system works.
The Russian system works because if they are operating from within Russian/Ex-CCCP countries, there is little the authorities will do if the victims (or targets) are western companies or people. They have their own escrow system (varies depending on forum) and have been using bitcoin for some time alongside the standard wm and the Liberty Reserve-replacement perfectmoney, without being passionately interested in working with alternative cryptocurrencies (the only exception being litecoin). The payment methods are mainly dictated by providers (vendors). Whatever payment system they want used, it gets used because there are always hungry clients for “fresh stuff” and amateur vendors trying to buy bulk info and resell it.
For now, the majority of vendors (and forum users) I have talked to about darknet markets are all saying “Too much attention there” – and they are right. The crosshairs and eyes are now all on darknet marketplaces dealing with cryptocurrencies, leaving private or semi-private communities such as vrfied, explin, dc, maza, dk hidden in the shadows and still operating interrupted. It is logical for big-time vendors to desire to stay well-hidden and out of the public eye when having vast amounts of confidential information (or other things) for sale. Such forums provide the perfect place to sell silently – although on several occasions they have been either hacked or had their operations disrupted for a long time.
On the other hand, Russian buyers/customers/users are more likely to open up to new markets than the vendors themselves. The “buyer” is always looking for the score, in most cases not caring how the money is made. The Russian buyer puts faith in his vendor comrades because most English vendors that they have dealt with are “rippers” – a term mainly used in the carding community to identify scammers who offer a product or service but do not deliver. With the arrival of darknet markets, reputation and feedback systems and especially multi-signature transactions, buyers can now buy safely without the fear of getting scammed or getting delivered damaged goods.
The interest in drugs, among other items, has never stopped. There have been several cases of Russian forums transformed into escrow marketplaces with the offer of selling drugs (via Webmoney though, not bitcoin) and using the dead drop system – what, you thought your favourite Russian marketplace was first to implement it? With the arrival of Tochka and Ramp, the number of Russian-speaking members on other popular marketplaces has slightly increased. As soon as Russian buyers and vendors realize the potential of darknet markets and start using them for business, the benefits towards these underground economies will be enormous and darknet market admins are expected to see a noticeable increase in trading volume.
At the end of the day, if the Russian community joins the onion land and is active, many new opportunities for buyers and vendors alike will appear, vendors who claim to offer “own stock” (but in fact are members of Russian forums) will disappear because their supplier will be (probably) on the same marketplace as they are but offering first-hand products with a much lower price tag. Such changes, can only benefit the buyers and ultimately, everything they buy will be as advertised. It is clear that darknet marketplaces have yet to be accepted as the new norm, especially with the recent news around Evolution – discussed throughout several private Russian communities (vor) with, you guessed it, distrust.
In order for other communities to accept the deep web as their new home, several things have to be considered and new standard for marketplaces must emerge – multi-signature transactions, 2FA PGP, and responsible marketplace staff.
Stay tuned for articles in relation to darknet market growth & security taken by the biggest names in the deep web trading.