The hack of dark web “murder-for-hire” outfit Besa Mafia, which I wrote about a couple of days ago. has provided a treasure trove of stories of people who are prepared to go to extreme measures to be rid of someone in their lives. Most never got further than the initial enquiries. A few parted with tens of thousands of dollars. Nobody got much satisfaction.

One of the first customers that Besa Mafia engaged with was a Texan fellow who wanted to put out a hit on his ex-wife. It didn’t go quite to plan. Especially once Guido came into the conversation.

revolver_bang

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Before the recent hack confirmed definitively what rational people already knew – i.e. that the dark web “murder-for-hire” site was a scam – it was a little disconcerting that Besa Mafia’s No.1 FAQ was Do you have people in Australia?

Eeek! Look at what the No.1 most Frequently Asked Question is!

Aussies have always been big users of the DNMs

Now a thorough search of the leaked mails and orders has found no evidence that any of the people who made Australian-based enquiries parted with any money. However, at least one sent full details of the intended victim.

Compared to the US orders (where payments were made), interest seems to peter out fairly quickly from most of the Aussie enquirers. (If you haven’t heard about the site or the hack, catch up here).

I’ve compiled a list of the Australian interactions with the site, presented in an easy-read format, without commentary but accompanied by whimsical illustrations for you:

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Disturbing revelations have come out of a dark web hire-a-hitman site

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Drugs, hacking services, stolen financial and personal information and fraud-related services are the staple products of the darknet markets. But there has always been websites offering far more sinister wares – poisons, human beings and hitmen. Such sites are overwhelmingly amateurish, poorly worded fakes, designed to separate the gullible from their Bitcoin.

Earlier this year, Besa Mafia burst on to the dark web with a slick and user-friendly site. They claimed to be Albanian organised crime figures, with employees all over the world. Despite laughable “testimonials” and a ridiculous writing style, the owner of the site managed to convince many that they were real.

Besa embarked on a marketing spree on the clearweb, with apparently satisfied customers providing ‘personal stories’ of successful hits. Little by little, belief that they were genuine began to gain traction. Redditors would claim the others were fake, but Besa was the real deal. Believers would stubbornly insist they knew someone who knew someone who hired a contract killer and paid them in Bitcoin.

Dark web mythbuster and Moderator of /r/deepweb, Deku-Shrub was tiring of the misinformation and rumour spreading by Besa shills. He responded to every post that claimed the services offered by the website were real with a rebuttal and even interviewed the site owners, then ridiculed them on his blog, Pirate London.

Rational people knew this site was a scam, just like all the others. Probably some geeky kid with too much time on his hands and too many hours spent on Playstation having a laugh.

Then something happened.

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Last week I poked fun at torture and murder on the dark web. I’m writing on the same topic today, but I’m not laughing.

Can it really get darker than this?

Can it really get darker than this?

A few months ago I wrote about the apparent over-representation of Australians in all things dark web. This blog touches on that too, but you won’t find me smug and vaguely proud about it.

Four Australians have now been jailed for the roles they played in relation to a series of sites on the dark web. This is the abyss, the cesspool, the darkest part of the dark web.

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“There will be bacon”

Is this the first verified example of a Red Room?

Is this the first verified example of a Red Room?

It started, as these things are wont to do, on 4Chan or Reddit. A couple of days ago; anonymous people posting anonymously “WHOA! Is this Real??” They gave no explanation, just an onion (i.e. dark web) link. The curious, of course, clicked. And they were greeted with a message:

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It went on to say the site owners had captured seven ISIS terrorists whom they would humiliate (“there will be bacon”), torture and ultimately murder live on webcam at the allotted time and date.

Here, it seemed, the ultimate urban myth, was going to become a reality: The Red Room. The modern version of the snuff movie, a Red Room is a live stream of the torture and murder of a person for the entertainment of others. Sometimes viewers may interact, typing instructions on a screen Think of the movie Hostel and add webcams.

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What do me and Charles Bukowski have in common?

Chuck B

Okay, that may be a little hyperbolic, but for the answer you are going to have to check out my guest blog for the Melbourne Writers Festival.

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Fun fact: the proper technical term for dark web sites is hidden services. It’s easy to forget what this implies, but as I’ve been researching the past couple of months for a new book, I’ve been reminded of how the dark web is designed to work.

There's sites on the Dark Web you - and I - will never see

There’s sites on the Dark Web you – and I – will never see

When people ask what’s on the dark web, those who reply will tell them all about the sites that they found once they downloaded Tor and “went exploring” or “browsing” (usually from finding The Hidden Wiki and clicking on some links). Check out the 11,000 comments on this thread on Reddit to see what I mean. (And for something fabulously weird, somebody for some reason decided to narrate a comment I made)

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