A Silk Road-Like Marketplace Allegedly Run By Students

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The dark web has been in the news for more than one reason in the recent past and is a matter of growing concern for the police and enforcement authorities around the world. Modeled after the Silk Road, an online black market that was busted by the FBI, a new darknet market by name NZ Underworld (originally launched as Vic Underworld) has now been created by three Wellington computer science students. NZ Underworld, allegedly run by these students, offers party drugs and painkillers among a host of other products. The Victoria University students have even challenged the police to catch them if they can manage it.

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Silk Road Seized

The anonymous marketplace, designed to function like the Silk Road, accepts members only through invitation. Currently, the site has about 150 members, according to reports. Counterfeit prescriptions for hypnotic drugs and sedatives are available in addition to huge stashes of drugs for schizophrenia.

The founders of NZ Underworld purportedly take a cut of about 1.5 percent of the transaction amount. The transactions are in Bitcoin, a crypto currency. The value of one Bitcoin is about $450.

Just like the Silk Road, NZ Underworld also uses the deep part of the internet that most normal users are not familiar with. The Tor (Onion Router) browser is used to access the darknet sites. This helps operators to function anonymously. The darknet, as it is known, is the place where illicit activity, nefarious businesses, forged documents, arms sales, and illegal drug peddling take place in complete secrecy. It is unmonitored and lawless and much larger than the internet that most users are familiar with.

Though modeled under the likes of the Silk Road which was shut down in 2013 by the feds, the founders of NZ Underworld claim that their intention of setting up such a site was not to sell only illegal items and drugs like the Silk Road but adapt to current demands of the society at large. The founders’ claim is that they have set up the site to bridge the demand-supply gap. Their act of setting up the site, they believe, would incite the public as well as authorities to examine the implications of the classification of drugs as illegal or otherwise.

Silk Road Marketplace

However, under security concerns raised by the Victoria University about the content traded in the website in their complaint, the police department is investigating into the allegations along with help from the National Cyber Crime Centre. The Victoria University has also said that they do not know who the operators of the site are. Whatever be the intentions of setting up the site, according to the police, any individual that uses the internet for the act of selling or distributing controlled substances is committing an offense. The police are tightlipped owing to the nature of the investigation but are determined to find out the promoters of the Silk Road-like website and hold them responsible for the act.

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