The internet is like everything else: you invent something new, and soon others will exploit it for nefarious ends. And I’m not just talking about cable internet providers. Both existing organized crime syndicates and new players wasted no time in figuring out ways to exploit the world wide web to steal money, scam the unaware, and attack enemies. And that’s just the beginning. There’s a lot of everyday global trade in contraband, especially drugs.
While most of us might turn to Amazon or eBay as our go-to for ordering just about anything, there’s an entirely darker layer to the internet, where organized crime has moved the sale of all manner of contraband – especially drugs. It started in 2011 with Silk Road, named for the famous trading route of the Han Dynasty. Silk Road is surprisingly similar to eBay – except in what you can buy there.
According to Pursuit Magazine and journalist Kevin Goodman, who infiltrated the cybercrime network, once users got past layers and layers on encryption, they found what was essentially Etsy for narcotics. After creating a user name and password and supplying payment information, buyers could place orders for an astounding array of illegal products. The site held the payment until the buyer confirmed they’d received the product, and, just like other, more well-traveled marketplaces, buyers could rate sellers and provide feedback.
Silk Road reportedly banned the sale of some illegal activities – murder-for-hire, stolen credit card numbers, child porn and weapons. But using bitcoin as the currency of choice, Silk Road quickly became the place to go for practically any drug under the sun. In October of 2013, Forbes reported that the FBI had taken down Silk Road and seized around $4 million in bitcoins.
But you know as soon as one method of illegal trade goes down, others spring up in its place. There will always be people who consider the profit to be worth the risk, no matter what the collateral damage is. Learn about ransomware, information theft, money laundering, and other cybercrimes at Urban Ghosts.