Today the owner of Silk Road announced the closure of its sister site, the weapons-dealing Armory. The reason was not heat from law enforcement or negative press, it was simply that the site was not profitable and members complained that many listings were scams.
There are dozens of black market sites selling all manner of things on the Dark Web, but only Silk Road seems to have any real commercial success. The closure of the Armory raises the question of whether it is the business model or the products that cause a market to fail. Complaints of scams riddle the dark web and the online black market might not be as successful and prolific as some fear. Is there something about drugs that inherently make them the only truly viable anonymous online black market product?
As I delved into the Dark Web I noticed a plethora of advertisements for contract killers. I decided to try and engage one of the more prolific advertisers, an organisation that claims to have many successful hits, to kill a fictitious ex-husband. Here’s what transpired:
My initial contact email: Hi can you get rid of someone in Australia my ex husband is abusive and is still allowed to see my kid.
Response: We would be happy to service your request. Our terms are half the payment by transfer up front. When we confirm that the target is able to subject to a casualty and made identifications of the best employe to job we arranges first transfer with meeting or bitcoin
From me: How does it work and how do I know you wont just take the first half do you go into escrow. thank you
Response: Sure we can go into escrow. But in most cases we need first transfer. That is necessary for all costs what include new equipment, passports, trips, hostels and else. We can low your first transfer up to trips and passports, but you’ll need to pay second part on face to face meeting. Find your best way and update us.
I responded: How much is trips and passports and is that included in the 20k or is it extra and when do we meet face to face i thought it was anonymous
Hitman’s response: Trips and passports costs will be for $2000. For cash transfer we can meet face to face or use curators. In any case first transfer will be budget for our works. and second part of award need to be placed on escrow.
From me: So what exactly do you need to go forward, how do I know how to get you the money and that you will really do it
Hitman’s response: You should send us a photo and last known address and any other information that should expidite this transaction. We will ensure you that we can find the Target or ask other informations as necessary.
From me: [attach picture of de facto partner (n.b. already dead)] Here he is and the basterd lives at [address that is a vacant lot]. How soon can you do it and how will it be done
Hitman’s response: About 2 weeks after transfer. If you don’t have any special requirements, that will be casualty.
From me: 2 weeks after transfer of what?
Hitman’s response: of initial payment for trips and passports $2000
From me: I am trying to get a fake account from somebody on the darknet and also I want to get a fake identity so I can get the money out do you know who does good fake id Also can you tell me how you will kill my ex-husband I dont know what casulty means Also how many times have you done this
Hitman’s response: We can not share such information like past activity and id makers. But when you need help by hide withdraw of money, talk with an advocate. If you need help in hide transfer of money, talk with an broker. If you need to finish your husband send a file and make the transfer to us. Casualty, is an accident, especially one involving serious injury or loss of life. This will save our alibi and solve your problems.
From me: Its not fare, you can get my money from me and not do anything, I will never know who you are why should I use you
Hitman’s response: This is a risk you take if you want an permanant solution. We have great experiences.
So all-in-all, a little underwhelming. There is absolutely no reason a so-called hitman would carry out a hit if someone is willing to send them the advance costs for free. The consensus of contributors to Dark Web forums was that these services aere either scams or undercover law enforcement agencies.
Perhaps more worrying than the people offering their services are the many posts begging for “hitman training”. But that’s another blog post.
I believe personal services are not viable through the anonymous black market. Does anyone believe otherwise? And why does Silk Road continue to flourish when others – even those that have the same business model and owner – fail?