Posts Tagged ‘internet scam’

 

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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According to FBI documents, Dread Pirate Roberts claims to have carried out one hit and was haggling on price for another. But was he the victim of an elaborate hoax?

Did DPR really fall for a hitman hoax like this?

Did DPR really fall for a hitman hoax like this?

According to the FBI’s Criminal Complaint, Silk Road’s owner, the Dread Pirate Roberts, sought to engage a hitman to deal with a blackmailer who was threatening to expose names and addresses of some of the site’s top vendors. DPR allegedly exchanged messages with someone called “redandwhite” who offered to carry out the hit for between $150,000 and $300,000 depending on whether DPR wanted the hit to be “clean or unclean”.

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The most successful Australian vendor on Silk Road has conned their customers out of tens of thousands of dollars

Red pill, blue pill or no pills?

Red pill, blue pill or no pills?

Aussie vendor EnterTheMatrix had a simple and effective business model.  Purchase Australia’s most popular party drugs from overseas vendors on Silk Road, add a 400% markup and resell them to Aussie Silk Road customers.  Although there were plenty of grumbles about the prices, those who wanted their drugs quickly (ETM sent by Express Post) and did not want to take the risk of importing via Customs (legal consequences are much harsher when ordering overseas) begrudgingly paid a premium.  After all, it was around the same as street prices and at least the quality of the goods tended to be consistently high.

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Ever since the suspected DDoS attack in November, the admins at Silk Road have been combating a number of different scams and attacks on the site.

The Quickbuy Scam (see below) - this vendor's image has been hacked with a fake bitcoin address

The Quickbuy Scam (see below) – this vendor’s image has been hacked with a fake bitcoin address

It’s hard to tell whether this is a concerted attack by one group determined to piss the website off or each one is separate. The most pervasive ones have been:

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This image is probably very copyright to Sony and I’m sorry, but it is really really hard to find an appropriate image. Please don’t fine me, Sony

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:

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Today my latest article appeared in The Age/SMH:  From Nigeria With Love.


I did a fair bit of research for this, but one of the most fun things I’ve done is mess with the scammers who contact me wanting to buy a parachute I have for sale.  Not quite the legendary efforts carried out by 419eater (please, if you have a couple of hours, check that link out!)  but here’s one of the exchanges for your amusement:

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