With the news that Agora will be gone (Already gone now…) a large portion of its users have transitioned to AlphaBay. You must be here to learn how to buy stuff from AlphaBay, then. Ensure that you read this whole tutorial before starting – it is important you understand every step. This guide is a lesson in buying, not vending; vending is wholly another task which requires bigger consideration.
AlphaBay market listing and url can be found here.
Part 1 – Preparing
USE A VPN SERVICE. You can find one here to best suit you, we review the best VPN Services for privacy on the market. Every time you use your computer your IP address is shown which reveals your actual physical address which means you can be traced very easily. A VPN must be used along with Tor (Tor is the free browser explained below) to make your online activity anonymous. When using a VPN Service it will hide your identity and location while also encrypting all of you internet traffic from everyone including your internet service provider. This technology will also protect you from identity theft and hacking when using free wifi because everything is encrypted. Any time you are searching for music, movies to download, pirated content, drugs or anything illegal then you should be using a VPN to fly under the radar. The law is trying to monitor everything we do now so don’t make it easy for them, don’t end up like the original mastermind of Silk Road and get busted. This is a must have in your anonymous arsenal.
The first step in buying from any marketplace, is to set up your environment. What follows is bare minimum to staying safe when buying personal goods. Afterwards, look at the Security Tutorials section for some extra security tips.
Tor Browser Bundle
You will want to go to https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html to download the Tor Browser Bundle for your OS. There are plenty of instructions for installation on the download page, for OS X, Windows, and Debian.
PGP is a secure method of encrypting and decrypting messages. It is not a very good idea to send your address to a vendor, unencrypted because if the hidden service gets seized, LE will then have hard evidence of the crime you’ve committed. One thought to keep in mind is that not all versions of GPG are created equally, so avoid using online GPG methods such as iGolder and those utilizing BouncyCastle libraries.
One cannot buy items without having money first, now can we? You will need to buy some Bitcoin(s), which you can do with paypal or credit cards, find a local Bitcoin ATM machine, or even simply buy with fiat cash. Whichever way you choose to buy the Bitcoin(s) is completely up to you. However, LocalBitcoin is the most popular for one reason: it can be done anonymously. There have been reports of Coinbase banning accounts which have deposited into the darknet markets, so try to avoid that. Secondly, do not be connected to the Tor network when purchasing your Bitcoin(s), as it is completely legal and using Tor to buy it will often prove a hindrance.
Now that you have some Bitcoin(s), you need a place to store them. One excellent choice is Electrum. It is open-source, cross-platform, and even has an Android version. You can go ahead and download it from here. Using it is pretty simple and straightforward.
Part 2 – Some beginning tips
Some beginning tips for new users should be compiled – they are from personal experience and others’ stories across the web:
Use your real name and real address; nothing draws more negative attention than getting your mail delivered to your real address with a fake name. Carriers of mail are usually familiar with who lives where, and report anything suspicious. You can even get a P.O. box in your local postal office for relatively little money, if you live with people who have the tendency to scavenge through your mail.
- If you decide to use a fake name, have the proper documents to back yourself up. A fake ID and utility bill scans should be sufficient to open a P.O. box under that name.
- Be patient. AlphaBay is not Amazon, things do sometimes take extra time; vendors are often known to mark items as shipped right away, even when they plan to actually ship the next day. The time it takes to ship can also be delayed due to weather or holiday seasons. The only time you should bring up not having received your package, is after 14 days, or if Auto-Finalize is just about to activate. There will be more coverage on that, later.
- Encrypt all, every, and each message you send. This extra time is worth it to save yourself from not rotting away in prison.
- Should you have negative experience with any vendor, private-message them before leaving a negative review. Almost all of the time, they effortfully go out of their way to sort out the situation depending on their return policy. Try to be kind and polite, as this will get you farther.
- Don’t tell anyone that you are buying from the DNM. This includes your friends (even your best friend) or even your mother or father.
- Tumbling, blending, or mixing your coins with an online service such as Bitcoin Fog or Grams’s Helix is a really good idea, but is ultimately up to personal preference. When buying personal amounts of goods, this is not really required; thus, it will not be covered in this tutorial.
- If any listing appears too good to be true, it likely is.
- Never ever FE (Finalize-Early). Trusted vendors are also known to sometimes exit-scam.
- Make every effort you can, when possible, to buy your goods domestically (from within your own country).
Part 3 – What is AlphaBay?
AlphaBay is debatably the top marketplace on the darkweb, with anything ranging from drugs, weapons to counterfeits, electronics, etc.
- A lot of stuff to possibly buy
- Pretty easy UI
- Referral/Affiliate program
- Migrated to a new server: better uptime and stability
- Quite responsive anti-scam team.
- Accounts & CC Autoshops
- While GPG is obviously encouraged, it isn’t required.
- An occasionally troublesome captcha.
Part 4 – Creating an account
Hopefully, you have installed the proper tools, and have read over our basic tips. In order to buy from AlphaBay, you will need an account. You can register at AlphaBay with this link: http://pwoah7foa6au2pul.onion/register.php?aff=41211
Upon clicking the url, you should see this page:
It’s time to start filling out the required information. In the ‘Username’ field, choose something which you haven’t used elsewhere in the past, but which is easy to memorize. This same thing goes for the password and PIN which protect your account and attached wallet from attacks. XKCD has a great comic on creating secure, easy to remember passwords. Setting a custom Login-Phrase is purely optional, but it is a good practice to ensure you are not being phished at any given time. In the box where your GPG Public-key goes, input your ASCII-armored output, there. Do not publish anything which could be used to link you to your real name, in the Profile-Text box.
Once you have filled out all of the proper information, captcha included, and then clicked “Join the market,” keep your password and PIN in a safe place. Sign into the market, now.[Image goes here:
Part 5 – Setting up your account
Now that your account has been created, you will want to set it up completely. Click your username in the top-right corner.
Once we get to this page, all we really need to do is setup two-factor authentication with your GPG key. You will need to decrypt a message every time you login, using your private key, which prevents third parties from accessing your account without authorization. Go to the drop-down menu and choose to enable two-factor authentication, using your keypair to decrypt an encrypted message from the marketplace.
Part 6 – Choosing what to buy
Now that our account is finally setup, shopping can finally begin.
Searching is pretty straightforward on AlphaBay.
To make sure that only Escrowed listings appear in the results, skip down to the dropdown menu beneath “Payment type,” and choose “Escrow.” You can also choose to only show Multisig-protected listings, by going to the dropdown menu beneath “Multisig options,” and choosing “Show only multisig listings.”
FE vs No-FE
FE (finalize-early) is a procedure by which the vendor can retrieve the funds from a sale without going through escrow which is designed to ensure you receive your product. It is discouraged all over the darkweb community, due to inherent risks. Should you have been scammed by a vendor through a FE-enabled listing, no doubt it is that your funds are gone for good.
Buying from within your own country
Depending on how much risk you are willing to take, as well as the speed by which you are okay with it arriving, you can choose specific listings based upon their “Ship-From,” and “Ship-To” locations. Unfortunately, the search results themselves do not display these particularly significant details, and one must visit the listing page itself, to view from and to where it is shipped. Shipping from inside of your own country is safer as it does not require going through customs. Ordering from “hot” nations such as Pakistan, the Netherlands, and even Columbia are much riskier due to known trade practices in those places.
Judging the Vendor
By clicking on the vendor’s name in any listing or any search result, you are brought to their profile page, as exemplified above. Each vendor has his or her GPG public-key and XMPP listed, here. All of their feedback is also listed, both positive and negative. Beware though, just because a vendor might have positive reviews does not make for a purely reliable seller. In a case such as this, avoiding a purchase would be wise if you do not know the vendor that well, because of FE being enabled.
Another great way to get a general feel of a vendor’s reliability is to read reviews of them on the market forums, this site’s AlphaBay listing, the DNM Subreddit & Alphabay’s subreddit. You can also read their reviews on Grams.
Part 7 – Making your order
Once you’ve discovered a good listing from a reputable vendor, and are ready to make an order, let’s go ahead and start!
Adding funds to your wallet
At the very top of the website, you can see what your balance is, in your wallet, and the current BTC to USD conversion rate is diagonally below it. In order to buy anything, you must add funds to your market wallet. Click on your [empty] balance, as seen in the image, at the top of the website.
A new wallet address is generated after each deposit for obvious reasons. You do not need to generate it, yourself. Be sure to deposit a little more than you plan to spend initially, due to the fluctuation of the Bitcoin price. Once you have deposited your bitcoin(s), it takes a few confirmations on the blockcchain to show up in your balance. Be patient, and if it takes unusually too long, contact the staff on the forums. Keep in mind, you cannot contact the Admin him or herself, but you can always contact the subordinate staff members. You can also post a new thread outlining your delay/glitch.
Now that you have finally deposited some funds, it is time to buy that item you’ve always wanted.
In the box labeled “Qty,” fill out the amount of the item you want to order. Once you click “Buy now,” you should enter your shipping address (encrypted). Ensure you have filled out everything correctly, and confirm your purchase.
To check on the status of your order, click “Orders,” on the navigation bar. All processing or “Current” orders should show up, here. Processing means that your order is being processed currently, by the vendor handling it, but are not yet finalized
Once it is marked as shipped and escrow is finalized, it goes to “Archived Orders”.
If your order is not delivered in the appropriate time as mentioned in the listing, circumstances considered, you may dispute the order while it is still inside of Escrow.
If you need marketplace support at any time, contact the staff through the forums. This is the primary way of getting assistance. If, however, a dispute is opened, a moderator will contact you through the marketplace without any need to select and private-message one of them. Please do note, though, that a moderator or otherwise-employed staff member will never request your account details.
If you get something in the postal mail which you do not recognize, don’t just throw it out. Many vendors simply have incredible stealth, and people, thinking their orders to be spam, have been known to throw these packages away. After the package is delivered successfully, confirm that you have received your order in AlphaBay’s marketplace page named “Orders,” as outlined earlier, inside of the order details. Once you do this, the funds will be released from escrow into the vendor’s on-market wallet. Otherwise, you might need to wait for Auto-finalize to occur.
If you don’t receive what you’ve ordered, just message the vendor. They will normally be helpful, if you remain coolly calm. If the issue remains unfixed by the vendor, you should open a dispute. Opening a dispute will alert moderators, one of whom will be assigned to this dispute number. Remain calm, and explain your side, then wait for the vendor to explain his or her side. Bickering can often make sure you lose your dispute case.
If the purchase of your product was worthwhile, be sure to leave a positive review for the vendor, to ensure that other potential buyers know with whom to do business. The biggest component of the darkweb is a trust system.
Part 8 – Digital Items
On AlphaBay, you can also buy digital products. The same filtering methods apply during your search for adequate listings, except you choose “Digital,” instead of “Physical.” Once you make your purchase of a digital item, you do not need to input your shipping address or anything. However, still ensure that, should any details be relevant and vital to the purchase for the vendor (depends on the item), you encrypt those details. The delivery of your digital goods will be received in the order’s details page (accessible through the orders page, at “Orders,” on the navigation bar). Vendors often use a system called Auto-fulfill, which ensures that your digital good is delivered through the order details, automatically. If something is amiss, check with the vendor. If all does not actually work out, feel free to dispute the order, and a moderator will be with you through the marketplace, in time, just as with ordering physical items.
Part 9 – Conclusion
So as long as you follow the guidelines in this tutorial, you should be ordering quite adequately, on AlphaBay to start off. There is, of course, a bit more to learn, but it’s much more worthwhile to learn how to do the rest on your own. Stay safe and enjoy shopping!