Posts Tagged ‘dark web’

How I became a dark web consultant to a TV show, and my somewhat complicated relationship with the owner of the most profitable online murder-for-hire service in history

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I recently worked as a consultant to CBS for their season premiere of 48 Hours: “Click for a Killer” after I met a CBS producer at the trial of Stephen Allwine for the murder of his wife, Amy. The episode was originally going to be a straightforward telling of that crime, but as they learned about the extent of the Besa Mafia dark web murder-for-hire operation, as well as my own somewhat complicated and ongoing relationship with its owner, Yura, it turned into something quite different.

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They used to be known as the “Amazon” or “eBay” of drugs, but modern dark web drug sales use a system more comparable to Yelp or TripAdvisor

 

Ever since Silk Road, the first mass-market point-and-click dark web drugs bazaar, made its debut in January 2011, the DNMs (darknet markets) have been invariably compared to popular e-commerce platforms. Reports would either refer to “the Amazon of drugs” or “the eBay of drugs” and point the parallels with those websites. Like Amazon, they were a one-stop shop for every drug imaginable, that could be popped into a basket and sent to the buyer with a range of shipping options. Like eBay, the sites brought buyers and sellers together and held payment in escrow until both sides were satisfied. Buyers would leave star ratings and feedback for the sellers, who would go out of their way to ensure their product and customer service would gain them a 5-star review.

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The man alleged to be Silk Road’s Variety Jones, Roger Thomas Clark, has finally been extradited from Thailand, where he has spent 2 1/2 years in Bangkok Remand, to face trial in the USA.

The pic the prison guard took with my phone

Variety Jones was basically unheard of until the trial of Ross Ulbricht, where he was revealed as a sort of behind-the-scenes puppet master, a Svengali-type figure who, according to the chat logs found on Ulbricht’s computer, was the first to suggest murder as a solution to a problem staff member.

I visited Clark (aka Plural of Mongoose) in Klong Phem Prison several times when researching The Darkest Web. Here’s a taster of what happened:

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You can’t have a burner phone without a prepaid SIM, so I guess it’s only fitting that Telstra is using my Fake ID to illustrate their identity requirements

There is a long history of people having their photos nicked without attribution and payment by large corporations. It is the reason the very excellent ‘for exposure’ exists. I’ve never actually had a photo deemed steal-worthy til now, as alerted to me by an AllThingsVice reader.

Terry Davis was recently filling out an application for a prepaid Sim card “for a friend” when he thought something looked oddly familiar.

 

He clicked on the photo of the sample licence to enlarge it and sure enough, there it was:

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Dark web murder-for-hire organisation Besa Mafia never paid any of their would-be hitmen for burning cars for them. The only people paid were their army of freelance writers. Here’s what Besa Mafia had them do.

Shilling for the Hitmen

Any freelancer knows that sometimes you have to take some pretty questionable jobs to put dinner on the table. This whole writing gig is not at all lucrative for those of us who are not J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, and in between books and serious investigative journalism (both which pay dismally when converted to hourly rates), we have to take some less-than-rewarding jobs. My low points have included extolling the virtues of pokies (slot machines for US readers) and offering my body up for clinical tests of a new drug (not the fun kind).

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Below is a callout to DNM vendors to share their views about DNMs and the perceptions of others about what you do. I know some of the independent researchers involved in this initiative personally, the others by reputation, and they have my full confidence that they will pull out all the stops to maintain confidentiality and integrity of their sources. They are people I admire in the field of drug policy and harm reduction research.

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Obviously with everything that’s been going on in the DNMs of late, most would be understandably reticent in coming forward, and certainly if you have any questions about your own opsec abilities you probably should stay away. But if you are a vendor who is truly committed to harm reduction and fighting the War on Drugs, I urge you to look at their previous publications and consider getting in touch with the researchers via the means at the bottom of the callout.

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Do you sell drugs online?

Are you interested in sharing your views about online drug trading, the darknet community, and what law enforcement and the media are saying about you?

If yes, then we are interested in talking to you!

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I was digging through my Silk Road archives when researching parts of my new book, and came up with a couple of little nuggets surrounding the latest “rogue agent” allegations that I don’t think have been reported yet.

Yuhendri Fajri via flickr.com, poorly adulterated

TL;DR:

  • What we assumed to be a simple Silk Road scam in early 2013 may have been law enforcement intelligence gathering + another Force/Bridges theft
  • There may be an explanation why Ross Ulbricht didn’t move to Belize after the controlled delivery of fake IDs to him in July 2013
  • If you’ve ever spoken to me, chances are the three-letter-agencies know about it

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