Facebook Marketplace Looks Similar To The Silk Road After Launch

Facebook recently introduced Marketplace, a new feature that allows its users to buy and sell items with other people in their community.

However, the newly-launched Facebook Marketplace started off on a rocky note after a surprising turn of events converted the Marketplace into an online commerce platform similar to Silk Road.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Highly Illicit Offers

Facebook Introducing Marketplace Buy and Sell with Your Local Community.
Facebook Introducing Marketplace Buy and Sell with Your Local Community.

One listing purportedly advertised the sale of baby hedgehog while another listed some birds for sale. One of the most shocking listings, however, featured a baby on sale at the price of $111.

Other illicit listings featured guns, adult services and, in one particular case, a £5 bill which was going for $10.

Some witty users resorted to using ruses to set up their illicit offers by placing a legitimate item, such as a canned drink, next to the advertised weapon.

It was not long before the Marketplace earned the title of the Silk Road with public access.

Technical Glitch

Facebook has responded and condemned the posting of illicit offers on their newly-launched Marketplace.

The director of the firm’s product management, Mary Ku, blamed the torrent of uncensored listings on a technical glitch that prevented the reviewing of the postings before they were cleared for posting on the Marketplace.

The Silk Road appearance of the Facebook Marketplace was attributed to a technical issue that arose during the roll-out of Marketplace, which prevented the firm from reviewing and eliminating any offensive or illicit postings.

Ku admitted that the glitch was the main reason why people were able to take advantage of the platform in ways that violated their policies.

She pointed out that action was already being taken to fix the issues and that the company was closely monitoring their systems in order to detect and eliminate any listings that went against their policies.

Brazen Criminals

Facebook’s Marketplace has been compared to the Silk Road days after its launch due to the illicit postings that have been the cause of outrage from the public.
Facebook’s Marketplace has been compared to the Silk Road days after its launch due to the illicit postings that have been the cause of outrage from the public.

Darknet marketplaces such as the Silk Road thrived under the cover of anonymity offered by the highly secure Tor network among other encrypted platforms.

The Facebook Marketplace has however shown how online criminals will not hesitate to turn any mainstream platform into an instrument for their illicit activities, despite the lack of the protective cloak that surrounded the Silk Road before its demise.

Much like the Silk Road marketplace which was shut down by the FBI a few years back, the Marketplace was full of illicit listings only a few days after it was launched to the public.

The highly public and global profile of the social media platform did little to deter the posting of illicit offers on its Marketplace.

Despite the lack of levels of anonymity offered by platforms such as the Silk Road, users can still hide under made up pseudonyms with fake profiles, which is an effective way of concealing one’s identity.

Bad Start

The launch of the Facebook Marketplace has been met with a lot of skepticism, even more so now thanks to their shaky start.

The limited roll-out and the lack of a desktop version as of yet might greatly slow down progress, and it may take a while for the concept to gain any meaningful traction.

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Appeals Court Weighs Arguments in Silk Road Case

Prosecutors on the Silkroad case where 32-year-old Ross William Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison were questioned on the fairness of the judgment in a Manhattan federal appeals court on October 6.

Ulbricht was convicted for being the brains behind the dark web site Silkroad, which was best known for facilitating the sale of illicit drugs.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

In the oral arguments presided by three US Second Circuit Court of Appeals judges, numerous questions were posed concerning the even-handedness of the ruling, which was doled out by US District Judge Katherine Forrest in 2015.

Emotional Impact

life-in-prison
Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison

One of the members of the three-judge panel presiding over the oral arguments, Judge Christopher Droney, openly challenged the sentencing as he pointed out that it was bizarre for a middle-aged man with no prior criminal records and no direct ties to any drug trafficking activities to get slapped with such a hefty sentence.

His colleague, Jude Gerard Lynch suspected that testimonies from the parents of two Silkroad buyers who died from overdosing at the 2015 trial could have had a heavy emotional impact on the case and might have influenced the over-the-top sentencing.

According to Lynch, the testimonies in the 2015 trial of the Silkroad creator put an extraordinary thumb on the scales against Ulbricht. The judge added on to call the sentence “quite a leap.”

Promising Innovator with Misplaced Priorities

The 32-year-old Californian resident was arrested following the seizure of the dark web drug market by the authorities.In its 2-year operation, Silkroad had made over $200 million in sales using the encrypted digital currency, bitcoin.

In its 2-year operation, Silkroad had made over $200 million in sales using the encrypted digital currency, bitcoin.

Ross Ulbricht was accused of masterminding the Silkroad operation from which he amassed $18 million.

Supporters of the Silkroad mastermind painted Ulbricht as a young, insightful innovator who had been led astray by his youth.

His defense lawyer Josh Dratel called on the three-judge panel to view the extreme ruling for what it really was.

silkroad-mastermind
Dratel painted Ulbricht

He called the life sentencing of the Silkroad mastermind unreasonable basing his remark on the fact that even murderers got a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Dratel went on to paint Ulbricht as the landlord of Silkroad who had no direct links to the activities that took place therein.

“No Ordinary Kingpin” – Prosecutor Eun Young Choi

Ross Ulbricht had been accused of hiring alleged assassins to get rid of enemies that threatened the continuity of Silkroad.

The three-judge panel saw this as more than just passive involvement and part of the reason why Ulbricht was tried as more than just the “landlord” of Silkroad.

Although none of the assassinations were carried out, prosecutor Eun Young Choi considered this a threat of violence that would have landed Ulbricht for life in prison even without the overdose deaths.

The prosecutor termed it unprecedented and went ahead to paint the Silkroad mastermind as an unusual kingpin.

Convicted Investigators

Ulbricht’s defense has also been trying to use the case of two federal agents who were convicted of bitcoin theft during the Silkroad investigation, as a pivot to overturn his conviction.

As things stand, there are no clear indications of when will be the judges’ ruling.

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Silk Road on American Greed TV Show

Recently, the popular CNBC TV show American Greed did a feature on Silkroad, the controversial digital drug dealing darknet market platform conceived and owned by Ross Ulbricht.

The American Greed episode was entirely focused on Ulbricht’s supposed pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts” and the operations of the illegal online utopia.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

american_greed_title_card
Silk Road On The TV Screen With American Greed

While a number of the references have been positive, the large majority have always painted a very negative picture of these platforms even though they are not always involved in illegal activity.

The Silkroad, however, cannot be given the benefit of the doubt. It is well known to have been complacent in criminal activity with Ross Ulbricht currently facing life in prison.

American Greed’s Verdict on Silkroad

The American Greed show can be complimented for taking a somewhat different and unscripted direction in its exposé’s.

It highlights key events or operations through the accounts of witnesses and expert opinions.

This approach enables the show to document current and past events that shed light on the dark sides of American capitalism including Silkroad that corporate media fails to cover.

According to the show, Silkroad was founded mainly to provide a secure and anonymous means for sellers and buyers to transact illegal goods and services online through the Tor network.

The Silkroad marketplace operated only through Bitcoins, the cryptocurrency that facilitates anonymous online trade in darknet markets.

Dread Pirate Roberts controlled nearly every aspect of the Silkroad marketplace.

Apparently, he acquired the computer infrastructure needed to set up the marketplace, maintained the official website and also set customer and vendor policies. Some of these policies included what could be sold on the Silkroad.

Ross Ulbricht was arrested in October 2013 by the FBI where he was accused of being Dread Pirate Roberts. The Silkroad website was then seized and taken down.

At the time, Dread Pirate Robert’s wealth was estimated to be millions of dollars in bitcoins.

Ulbricht is now facing a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He was found guilty on several counts including conspiracy to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to commit computer hacking, and money laundering.

Points of Contention

american-greed
American Greed unveils incredible true cases of crime and the lust for power…stories of people who do anything for money.

While Silkroad is definitely villainous from the law’s perspective, it does not exactly fit the profile of American Greed’s show.

The show usually focuses on the aspects of people or entities stealing money, something that DPR is not guilty of.

In fact, the instances of theft related to this case occurred against Silkroad itself, something the show failed to dwell on but should have.

It could be because of the fact that Carl Force, the person responsible for siphoning bitcoins from the Silkroad marketplace happens to be a former DEA agent.

Nonetheless, it was an informative alternative account and is bound to generate interesting comments in days to come.

It is definitely recommendable to any open-minded person seeking to know more about this underground online crime platform.

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First Vendor to Get Busted on Silk Road

Silkroad Vendor “shadh1”

Paul Howard aka “shadh1” was the first ever drug vendor with ties to Silkroad to get caught and sentenced after pleading guilty to a barrage of charges, one of which was drug trafficking.

At the time, Silkroad was touted to be the safest place to conduct drug deals being one of the numerous cryptomarkets that law enforcement found so elusive.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

paul-howard-aka-shadh1
Paul Howard Was The First Silk Road Vendor To be Arrested.

Other than being the first arrest of a Silkroad drug dealer since its launch in 2011, this particular case stood out for a number of reasons, some of which were baffling, to say the least.

Silkroad was eventually shut down in 2013 after three rocky years of operation and a bunch of significant arrests.

The Details

According to details that were revealed during the trial, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Services had begun to intercept packages addressed to Howard and his wife’s home address.

In total, 12 mail packages which contained MDMA (better known as ecstasy or simply “e”) were seized by the authorities.

A level of ingenuity had been used to package the drugs as they were cleverly hidden in paraphernalia such as lighters, DVD players, and cards.

Curiously enough, the Silkroad vendor did not notice the thinning inflow of drugs since he kept placing more and more orders on Silkroad as later revealed during the trial.

It was not until the authorities had intercepted a total of 46.9 grams of MDMA that they decided to take the next course of action.

The Bust

australian-federal-police
Australian Federal Police (AFP) first and very successful drug raid of a Silkroad dealer’s house.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) had enough to warrant a sweep of Howard’s home in Brunswick.

In what was the first and very successful drug raid of a Silkroad dealer’s house, the AFP managed to dig up an additional 50 grams of MDMA, 14.5 grams of cocaine and a whopping 989 grams of cannabis.

The drugs were in various stages of packaging as the police stumbled upon several zip-loc bags and scales at the scene.

Some of the drugs had already been packaged into sealed envelopes waiting for shipment.

The police then went on to perform a sweep of his vehicle where they unearthed what appeared to be innocuous sugar cubes that contained a substance which was unidentifiable at the time.

It was only after Howard’s sentencing that substance was identified as LSD. He was not charged with the possession of the drug.

Digital Evidence

The icing on the cake for the AFP was when they stumbled onto some very incriminating evidence on Howard’s phone and computers.

In addition to 148 text messages on his phone which irrevocably bound him to various drug trading activities and had numerous references to Silkroad, the police also found a number of pictures in his computers in which he could be seen handling the drugs.

In what many consider to be a humorous turn of events, his vehicle was also used as evidence against him owing to the fact that his license plate number was the same as his Silkroad moniker, “shadh1.”

Open and Shut Case

The prosecution had a field day cross-examining thousands of incriminating text messages dug up from the Silkroad vendor’s phone, some of which contained explicit information concerning his operations on Silkroad and the volume of drugs he had in possession.

Howard had little choice but to cooperate in the hopes of getting a more lenient sentencing.

He aided the police to search his computer where they managed to dig up a message Howard had posted on Silkroad when he began his illegal dealings.

In a nutshell, the message was a simple bio of who he was and what he did write in a very affable tone.

In addition to importing more than the required marketable quantity of border-controlled drugs into the country, Howard also pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking and the possession of over 30 controlled weapons.

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Top 5 Silk Road Alternatives

Everyone that likes the Silk Road needs a list of Silk Road alternatives, this is because our favorite darknet marketplaces never last forever.

We all know that the Silk Road has made history on the Darknet, and it is widely considered a pioneer in centralized Darknet marketplaces. The brand started its evolution with the original Silk Road, being one of the first marketplaces to employ this business model.

The brand started its evolution with the original Silk Road, being one of the first marketplaces to employ this business model.

The alleged mastermind behind it was a man called Ross Ulbricht, also known as “Dread Pirate Roberts,” He held belief that drug consumption and trafficking is something that can be done safely and peacefully, without any fear, just like any other kind of shopping.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

silk-roadEven though Silk Road has been closed after a very successful business campaign, some of its admins and prominent vendors did not want to give up on it that easily.

They all together decided to revive it and go on with their philosophy of free drug consumption and standing up against the authorities.

That is how a Silk Road alternative with the same name but with a 2.0 added was created.

It wasn’t long until the Silk Road 2.0 was allegedly hacked and shut down, and it is said that around 4 thousand Bitcoin were stolen.

The main problem with the Silk Road 2.0 is that the agencies that were in a raging war against drugs held Dread Pirate Roberts captive, together with his laptop and all the market data on it.

The data included some information about people who were later arrested for the involvement with the Silk Road.

Silk Road 3.0 and Silk Road Reloaded

Silk Road Reloaded was what many considered a cheap attempt at a Silk Road alternative by a small and obviously anonymous marketplace at trying to make money off of a name.

The critics were pretty harsh on the admins; many considered them rude and weird since they acted in a very impolite way in some cases.

bitcoin-silkroadOne of its many downsides is the fact that they didn’t use Bitcoins only, coupled with the fact that they were not accessible by Tor but rather its less popular counterpart i2P.

Another marketplace which tries to revive the Silk Road legacy has stepped up to the plate. Some say that it has no connection to the original Silk Road aside of the name; others support this by claiming that it is a small marketplace called Diabolus Marketplace.

However, security on the website is worth double-checking, since many people say that the Silk Road era is over and that no one sane would put any money or conduct business on such a site.

Whether this is true or not, this is what you encounter once you go to the website: first and foremost, you have to register, and then you are free to browse the site and do your business.

What most people are interested in are the listings. You have the possibility to filter your search by vendors or by product. The Silk Road 3.0 shows listings from vendors that have been active in the last three days.

There is a huge selection of goods numbering over 25 thousand drug listings, with total listings reaching as high as 35 thousand individual products or services. Given these numbers, it is more than clear that this is a drug-oriented marketplace.

If Silk Road goes down…

If the Silk Road 3.0 goes down, here is the list of Silk Road alternatives we recommend checking out AlphaBay, Dream Market, Valhalla, Outlaw Market, and Hansa Market. Each of the markets requests registration and after that allows you to explore further what they have to offer.

AlphaBay

alphabay-screenshotThis is the biggest Silk Road alternative, it is a regular marketplace which is designed to suit the needs of the people who want to sell products worldwide. It is founded by alpha02, who is according to the DeepDotWeb a reputable member on most carding forums and an experienced carder.

While this may come as a deterrent to some of the Darknet community, the fact that alpha02 is a Darknet veteran and an experienced vendor cannot be denied. Once you follow the onion link and land on the first page, you will see the captcha system set in place and will be asked to write a string of numbers in digits correlating to the names of the numbers displayed to you on the page.

After the site verifies that you have entered the data correctly, you will be redirected to the home page of the market. Now, you can browse AlphaBay at your leisure. AlphaBay is known for its numerous features that help in increasing both the security of the site and the comfort of use.

That being said, it is currently one of the most well designed Darknet markets around. It uses both multisig and normal escrow systems and as with most reputable markets, the only currency accepted is the Bitcoin.

Apart from drug listings which are by far the most common at over 19 thousand, you can encounter listings of jewelry, weapons, and most notably stolen credit cards, which seem to be AlphaBay’s secondary focus.

Dream Market

dream-marketDream Market is currently one of the oldest Darknet marketplaces around making it a reliable Silk Road alternative. It has been up and running since December 2013.

Dream Market’s site will let you explore the offer they have without having to sign in with an account, but, if you want to conduct business there, you will have to register. You will have to provide your username and password, along with the captcha verification. The listings include drugs and drug related item (around 2000 of them), jewelry, hardware and software, forgeries and many other items.

Payment is being done in Bitcoin, and the status of Bitcoin can be checked by looking at the top of the site. Dream Market uses a traditional escrow system, and it seems that a good portion of Darknet community praises it for being decently scammer-free.

Valhalla

Valhalla is also known by its Finnish name, Silkkitie. The change of name is supposed to signify the marketplace’s evolution from being a Finland-only based marketplace to international business. The site of this market is easy for browsing since its organization into categories and subcategories is quite well thought out.

When it comes to listings, you can find numerous listings of drugs, digital items, mushroom growing, and much more. The total number of listings goes around 8,500 to 9,000, over 5000 of which are drug listings. However, if you want to enter the website, you must register.
Write your username, password, and instead of captcha answer a simple question like “What day comes after Tuesday?”, or “What month comes after January?” When you submit your application, you will be able to explore and see all the listings and information that interests you.

As far as security on Valhalla goes, both multisig and traditional escrow are set in place, as well as a forced PGP encryption to make sure that no incriminating evidence passes through it unencrypted. Both buyer and vendor positions are invite-only as of recently, and one cannot open a business on Valhalla unless they have a referral link.

Outlaw Market

Outlaw Market is not well known for the beauty of the design of their website, but what it lacks in UI design it makes up in sheer security measures. For example, you will not find any direct link to profiles of the vendors, but there is a separate page reserved for them.

Upon following the onion link, you will be provided with the captcha page to prove that you’re not a DDoS bot. After that, you will register yourself by entering the username and password, and then you will be able to browse the market for what you are searching for.
Now, you may find the site slower than the others, but this is because they have several security systems in place which puts a slightly bigger load on their servers. The listing number which goes around to the number of 1,000 includes drugs, weapons, electronics, services, digital goods, and a handful of other products and services.

The number of vendors is also not overly significant. A unique vending system on Outlaw Market is their auction where buyers can compete among themselves to score better prices on some listings.

Hansa Market

This is a market with great precaution and safety measures make it into our top 5 Silk Road alternatives. They claim that there is no chance that someone would disappear with the customer’s Bitcoins.

The listings don’t come down to drugs only, and one can find many other interesting products, from digital goods, jewelry, services, electronics, erotica, guides and tutorials, counterfeits, fraud related tutorials, etc. However, if you want to see the listings, you will have to sign in.

The procedure is a very basic one; provide them with your username and password, and make sure that you type in the correct captcha letters. Once you are finished, you can start browsing Hansa.

Even though it is one of the newer marketplaces, it has gained popularity quite quickly as a legitimate and scam-free business.

At the end of the day, there are some markets that you can visit in case the Silk Road 3.0 goes down.

Hopefully, this article can help shine a little bit of light on the many possible Silk Road alternatives in the event of a Silk Road 3.0 outage.

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Alleged Key Advisor To Silk Road, Variety Jones, In Thai Prison

thai-prisonAnd so the ongoing Silk Road saga continues…

Three years after the demise of the original darknet market, we’re still caught up in the turmoil surrounding the eponymous online black market.

Roger Thomas Clark, allegedly one-time right-hand man to the owner of Silk Road, has been in prison in Thailand a long nine months. Considering the conditions in jails across numerous countries in South East Asia, this is no mean feat.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Silk Road

But who is Roger Thomas Clark, and why is he seemingly rotting away in a Thai jail?

The answer lies in a convoluted mess of tiny bits of evidence – evidence obtained across the course of nailing the owner of Silk Road – one Ross Ulbricht aka “Dread Pirate Roberts.”

Ulbricht is currently serving life in prison after being convicted of charges including money laundering, conspiracy to traffic narcotics, and computer hacking.

Ulbricht was the brains behind the world’s first darknet market. Silk Road was launched in early 2011. Running over the Tor network, the online marketplace offered people a chance to buy and sell online in a completely anonymous fashion.

While built around the idea of a completely free market, in reality, the marketplace was a veritable haven for the trade of illegal goods and services including drugs.

With noble aspirations, Ulbricht descended into something far greater than himself and found himself ordering hits to protect his data assets and identity.

Ulbricht was caught mainly due to infiltration by an FBI agent, who was later found to have been dirty after siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin into his own accounts.

The plot really reads more like something out of a Hollywood movie.

Variety Jones

variety-jonesBut how, exactly, does Roger fit into the picture?

Roger Thomas Clark is allegedly “Variety Jones,” a key individual involved in the day to day operations of the Silk Road marketplace.

Variety Jones originally joined Silk Road in 2011, as a marijuana seed vendor.

Communications between Dread Pirate Roberts and Variety Jones, obtained from logs on machines of Ulbricht himself reveal a clever, worldly confidant, advisor, and manager in Variety Jones.

Variety Jones was a skilled technologist, and over the course of time became heavily involved with running Silk Road and advising Dread Pirate Roberts on murky areas related to business.

This even involved suggesting to DPR taking out a hit on people who were a danger to the working of the business. Variety Jones was DPR’s right-hand man – the go-to sounding board when things became unclear in business.

The man himself

Roger Thomas Clark currently sits in a prison in the country’s capital, Bangkok, while the US makes attempts to extradite him. Roger, at 55, doesn’t appear to the naked eye to be a devious international criminal.

And in terms of evidence against him, it is unclear just how much the US authorities have. When Roger was arrested and his assets seized, unlike Ulbricht, all his files were encrypted.

While there’s a trail of evidence that seems to lead towards him, just what they’ve got remains a mystery for now. Clark remains committed to fighting extradition attempts. After the life sentencing of Ulbricht, it’s easy to see why.

Extradition remains almost certainly a life sentence for Clark. The charges the US government is accusing him of include narcotics conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy, where the outcome if convicted is likely life in prison.

A recent interview

advisor-in-prisonRecently, Ars Technica has been taking the time to interview Clark, both in the visitors’ section of the Bangkok Remand Prison, and listening in to the man while on his way to the courthouse in Bangkok to continue fighting extradition attempts.

And while Clark doesn’t seem to be proclaiming his innocence too much, he does raise another very valid point about the investigation.

“Guilt is a technical term,” he says, “They don’t have s*** on me.” This raises the point in the US that evidence needs to be shown that the accused is guilty without a reasonable doubt.

“Forensics could spend 30 years trying to decrypt those hard drives and still not get anywhere,” Clark says matter-of-factly.

Just what is on those hard drives will perhaps not be known for many, many years, which may indeed have put the US investigation into the matter on a bit of a deep freeze.

What’s next?

Clark alludes to friends in high places in South East Asian governments, deals with officials, and military information. It’s almost like a mystery novel.

The man is clever, for sure, and remains optimistic about his chances in Thailand.

The jail hasn’t beat Clark like it does for so many other foreigners who wind up in the prison system there.

Perhaps it’s because of the groundswell of support from those in the online community, or perhaps it’s because of his inherent nature.

Perhaps it’s just because of the genuine love of the country that Clark has acquired over his years of living in the country – it’s hard not to like, with its sun-drenched personality.

For the moment, Clark remains in a sort of international limbo. While conditions in Thai jail are surely not ideal, it beats the alternative for Clark.

We will have to see just what happens in this case and whether extradition attempts will be successful.

Whether the amount of evidence against Clark is enough to get him onto US shores, or whether the Thai government deems him too important to the country to free is yet to be seen.

All that is known is that Roger Thomas Clark fights on.

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Buying Drugs Online

A Short History

As virtually everybody is probably aware, the drugs trade has not always been connected to the internet and even today only a small portion of the global market is located online.

As a matter of fact, what is today considered as illegal drugs were probably used as a medicine or a diet supplement some 50 years ago.

It was not until recently that many substances were deemed dangerous to human health and psyche to the point where their possession was punishable by law.

The other side of the story that is more probably is that governments declared the drugs illegal for their own gain and to serve the agenda of multinational drug corporations.

As with every product where there is demand, there will always be suppliers. The trading of drugs has become a lawless business and as such it attracted a lot of danger with it.

Faced with such a situation a community of like-minded people who believed in responsible and controlled use of drugs appeared.

The number one problem they had on their hands in order to talk about and buy drugs online was organizing a safe environment for communication since what they discussed about could land them a fair amount of prison time.

buying-drugs-enter-tor
Tor is your access door to the hidden web

Enter Tor and hidden services on the Deep Web. It did not take a long time for such a community to accept the anonymous nature of Tor as the greatest asset in the battle to preserve their identity.

At first, various forums began to sprout, and it was soon evident that not only people with good intentions were visiting them.

Since there was not a centralized system to buy drugs online and protect the customers from scamming suppliers, many people refrained from using Darknet Markets as their go-to source of drugs.

What many consider a revolution regarding their dream to buy drugs online began in 2011 with the founding of Silk Road. Silk Road was not the first attempt for a centralized marketplace for illegal products (including drugs) and services, but it soon proved to be the most stable one.

It lasted for more than two years until it attracted too much attention of international anti-drug law forces which shut it down in late 2013.

The following years saw a lot of instability on Darknet, as many marketplaces raced to fill in a spot left behind by Silk Road and after some time there are a few strong contenders to the title.

As of today, there are numerous marketplaces of different sizes and philosophies where one can buy drugs online, and it is safe to say that the online drugs trade is only going to grow as the time and technology progress.

The Current State of Darknet Marketplaces

darknet
Today’s hottest online marketplaces on the dark web as of right now.

As of recently, there seems to be a sort of a temporary stability on Darknet as there are no prominent new marketplaces opening and the giants currently at the top of Darknet drugs trade are not facing issues.

There are quite a few marketplaces currently open on Darknet where one can buy drugs online, but five of them take up the biggest share in online drug trafficking.

With the shutdown of Agora marketplace, AlphaBay has managed to become and stay the largest marketplace specializing in selling drugs.

This marketplace is known for their many features which help users increase their privacy, protect them from scammers (although scamming is still a burning issue) and increase the comfort of use.

It is important to note that AlphaBay seems to be under constant criticism since its secondary focus is carding and credit card information trade.

 

The second largest place one can buy drugs online is the Darknet marketplace Silk Road 3.0. This marketplace has seen a lot of criticism from the general public as trying to cash out on the name, but it has managed to prove over time that it was a legitimately safe and reliable place to buy drugs online.

It has steadily increased in size since its opening and it has reached the point where it has over 30 thousand listings offered by some of the most reputable vendors on Darknet.

Following behind Silk Road 3.0, when it comes to size and number of products to choose from, is the Dream Market.silk-road-3

Dream Market is one of the oldest marketplaces where one can buy drugs online, and it has been around longer than most currently popular hidden services.

This should be taken as a strong sign of quality and integrity.

While not as big as Silk Road 3.0 or AlphaBay, many people prefer it thanks to its clean design and ease of use.

Valhalla and Outlaw markets can also be considered senior residents of Darknet, but their volume is quite a bit lower than that of AlphaBay, Silk Road 3 and Dream Market.

This should not be considered as a detriment, as many big vendors from before mentioned marketplaces have profiles set up on different marketplaces.

Valhalla was until recently a Finnish-only marketplace, and they have since expanded into an international business.

To commemorate this, they have changed their name from Silkkitie to Valhalla in order to appeal to the broader audience.

Given its Finnish roots, it should not come as a surprise that most of its community is based in Finland, but the international vendors are increasingly showing interest in this marketplace and are starting to open up profiles.

Outlaw, on the other hand, has been an international marketplace for the entirety of its existence, and the community present there stands as the proof of that.

Outlaw is widely considered one of the most secure places to buy drugs online, despite its design not being too pleasing to the eye.

Luckily, Outlaw admins are announcing a rework of the site design but are stating that user security is their primary concern while design takes a distant second place.

The last on the list of top Darknet drugs sources and the newest addition to the market is the Hansa marketplace.

Despite it being a relatively new marketplace, it received an overwhelmingly positive feedback from the Darknet community.

While there are a significantly lower number of vendors compared to other top marketplaces, it still manages to attract the attention of many customers mainly due to their security policy.

There are a few well-known and established vendors on Hansa which only serves to increase the amount of people returning to buy drugs online. And despite an increasing traffic, the reviews it receives are hardly ever negative.

Buying Prescription Drugs Online

buying-drugs-online
Buying prescribed drugs online is now very available

Aside from being used by people to buy illicit drugs online, the Darknet marketplaces have allowed their users to have an easy access to prescription drugs.

It has recently become evident that large pharmaceutical companies are becoming more and more focused on profit without much care for any form of ethic conduct.

It has come to the point where they are using their influence to fund lawmakers and legislators in order to position themselves better in the marketplace. This has in turn made the prices of prescription drugs reach astounding amounts, especially in the US.

This coupled with the fact that many drugs are becoming harder to acquire due to them being classified as “easy to abuse” and the average person looking to buy some painkillers for their toothache is faced with extortionate prices if they are looking to stay within the bounds of the law.

It is for this reason that many vendors and even whole marketplaces who were used to selling drugs online, have switched their business model to prescription drugs trade.

While the prices are still not on the lower side of things, prescription drugs online are much more affordable and easier to acquire then buying them in a typical pharmacy in the US, since they do not require frequent visits to the doctor.

Safety Measures When Ordering on Darknet Marketplaces

The first, most obvious and unavoidable thing one will have to use to get access to Darknet marketplaces is a Tor browser. There is no other way to access hidden services or buy drugs online without using Tor.

That being said, Tor in itself is not perfect software, even more so since it started to attract the attention of anti-drug law enforcements.

Another thing to note is that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is always aware of your Tor usage which can be used against us in the worst case scenario.

It is for this reason that the use of a good VPN is highly advised, some would say even mandatory.

What “good” means when it comes to VPNs is whether they keep logs of their user’s activities, what payment method is allowed when using their services and which country are they situated in.

The third layer of protection one should consider using if they want to buy drugs online is Tails OS. Tails is a Debian-based Linux distribution created with the sole purpose of protecting its user’s identity.

When using Tails, it is advised that one boots it from the USB, as it opens the possibility of quickly getting rid of any data tied to the online purchase of drugs in extreme scenarios.

All that is needed is a 4GB or larger USB stick on which a Tails .iso is burned.

This covers most of the technical measures one should take a note off, but there are other things that need to be taken care of to ensure one’s safety in order to buy drugs online.

First and foremost, it is mandatory that we do a thorough research on the vendor when we decide to buy drugs online.

If we fail to do so, best case scenario is getting a bad product or getting scammed, while the worst case scenario can even be running into an undercover law enforcement officer.

Even when you do your homework on various vendors, it is still advisable to get a chemical test kit when ordering from an untested vendor.

Even respected vendors can have a bad batch of drugs and testing it beforehand can save us from some awful experiences.

Drug-related Penalties

While many different countries have different views on the use of drugs, in almost any country possession of substances that are deemed as illegal drugs by the law enforcement or an attempt to buy drugs online will get you a prison sentence and a monetary fine.

drug-related-penalties
Strict Penalties for drug offenders

A standard penalty for possession of class A drugs in the UK (MDMA, Cocaine, Heroine, etc.) usually gets the sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

In case the court decides that the defendant had the intention of distributing said drugs, the punishment is a lifetime in prison and a monetary fine of indefinite value.

As far as US federal law goes, the prison sentence is always the penalty for drug possession. The duration of the prison sentence varies depending on the substance in question, the amount of drugs and whether the offense was a first one on the defendant’s record.

For example, possession of any none-cocaine-based drugs in any amount will yield a fine of at least $1000 USD and a prison sentence of up to 1 year.

In case the court determines that there was an intent of distribution of said drugs, the term of imprisonment can reach up to a lifetime in prison depending on the amount found in possession.

Asian countries are the strictest when it comes to drug laws, and almost any amount of any illegal drugs will be penalized by a minimum of 10 years in prison and the death penalty has been used in drug cases.

Drug Rehabilitation and Harm Reduction

The one exceedingly prominent good side when someone looks into how to buy drugs online is the accessibility to the community.

There are numerous forums that help people stay safe during drug use and even offer medical and harm reduction advice.

Couple this with the fact that the purity of drugs on Darknet is generally much higher than purity of drugs found on the streets and it becomes clear how much the Darknet community helps in harm reduction tied to the use of drugs.

There are even tips on how one can help themselves stop using drugs which are often backed up by personal experiences and even medical research.

Conclusion

The use of drugs has come a long way from movie-like scenes of shady deals on the streets or bloody gang conflicts, ever since it has become evident how easy it is to buy drugs online.

While the above mentioned are still very present, the drug trade is starting to make a shift to the virtual realm, mainly because it offers a more secure channel for distribution and an incredibly wider market.

Another reason to buy drugs online is the ease of marketing and accessibility to community offered by various anonymity measures.

These factors cannot even be taken into consideration when thinking about the traditional face-to-face way of selling and this is why people will continue to prefer to buy drugs online.

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Bail Granted To Alleged Silk Road Admin

Gary Davis, the man from Wicklow and an alleged administrator of the Silk Road marketplace, has appealed to an order of the High Court that he be extradited to the United States where he will face a trial. He has been granted bail.

Gary Davis has been fighting extradition since the year 2013, and a High Court judge had ordered him to surrender himself to the US authorities for a trial. On August 19, his appeal to overturn the decision of the judge was granted to him. This gives him more time to prepare for the potential extradition.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

The Silk Road Administrator Granted Bail

Gary-Davis
Alleged Irish administrator of Silk Road website granted bail.

Davis is one among the three moderators of Silk Road that were arrested on charges of distribution of narcotics, computer hacking, and money laundering.

The other two were Peter Nash and Andrew Jones. Gary objected to the High Court judge’s order saying that he suffered from depression and Asperger’s Syndrome.

His defense lawyer stated that he would not receive proper care if detained in the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

The judge rejected his appeal that his constitutional and human rights would be breached. Davis was held in custody at the Cloverhill Prison.

The matter was taken up by the court once again when Mr. Davis filed an appeal against Justice McDermott’s order that he turn himself in and surrender to the US authorities.

The former Silk Road administrator requested that he be granted bail pending the outcome of his appeal.

Davis has been given ten days’ time to file a new appeal to turn down this decision of the judge.

Bail has been granted, and he now has time to prepare for his potential extradition. If extradited to the US and if he is convicted there, he could be awarded a life sentence.

bail granted
Judge orders Irishman Gary Davis to be extradited to United States.

The bail to Davis was consented to on the basis of a few conditions: he would sign every day with the Gardai; he would be let out on bail only on the basis of an independent surety of 15,000 Euros out of which 10,000 Euros were to be given as cash to the court; he should reside in Johnston Court (Kilpedder), demonstrate good behavior and not travel out of the jurisdiction.

Gary Davis was granted bail after his father John Davis stood up as the independent surety.

Davis had already been on bail as the extradition request was being dealt with by the court and was fully complying with all the bail terms that were set.

Gary Davis was accused of acting as the administrator of the online black marketplace Silk Road launched in 2011 under the name of “Libertas.”

The site was shut down in 2013 by the FBI. Ross Ulbricht, the creator of Silk Road, was charged, arrested and subsequently sentenced to life in prison.

With the US authorities’ claims that Gary Davis as the administrator had explicit knowledge of all the items that were on sale on the Silk Road website, the lawyer who defended the other alleged moderator said that Davis cannot avoid a severe “no-mercy” sentence if convicted in the US.

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Winning Bidder Claimed 2,700 Bitcoins at USMS Latest Auction

An anonymous bidder, who won the bid, bought 2,700 bitcoins at the United States Marshal Service (USMS) auction held recently. It is roughly worth 1.6 million dollars.

The government had announced an auction of the 2,719 bitcoins that were seized during many raids and cases like those of the Silk Road, the online black marketplace.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

bitcoin bidding
USMS, US Marshals. A winning bidder claimed 2,700.

The auction was announced at the beginning of the month, and the USMS confirmed that four bids were received for the same. The auction took place on August 22 between 13.00 and 19.00 UTC.

This auction was the smallest event held by the USMS. There were only five registered bidders for the auction of the 2,700 bitcoins.

Those who wished to take part in the auction were required to register before August 18. They were also required to deposit a fee of $100,000.

The USMS auction that took place in November last witnessed a higher turnout when 44,000 bitcoins were auctioned off.

The bitcoins auctioned off were worth $14.6 million and there were 11 bidders. Like in previous auctions, USMS also announced that the winning bidder could choose to reveal their identity if they wished to do so.

Previous bidders for the 44,000 bitcoin auction include investor Tim Draper, OTC trading firm Cumberland Mining, and the Bitcoin exchange itBit among the 11 bidders.

The USMS auction process is conducted in such a way that the winning bid is not made visible to anybody that makes a bid in the auction.

Earlier in June, Ernst & Young in Australia auctioned off 24,500 bitcoins that were confiscated from a Silk Road user.

The Source of the Bitcoins

bitcoin
An anonymous bidder purchased 2700 bitcoins worth about $2 million in an anonymous auction held by US Marshals Service

Silk Road was an online darknet marketplace that used bitcoins for its transactions.

Users traded and bought products on the site using bitcoins. A number of bitcoins were confiscated from the site creator, Ross Ulbricht.

He was sentenced to life in prison last year in May. Out of the 2,719 bitcoins that were auctioned off, a majority of them came from investigations related to the Silk Road.

About 1,300 of the auctioned bitcoins were related to Mathew Gillum, a Silk Road drug dealer.

This individual was sentenced to nine years in prison in the year 2015.

The bitcoins were seized in a civil case. 2.8 bitcoins only belonged to Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road.

Ross was convicted in May 2015 and sentenced to life in prison for running the website.

65 bitcoins came from a former DEA agent Carl Force IV, who was part of the Silk Road investigations.

He stole many bitcoins during the investigation and was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison. About 665 bitcoins were related to the Sean Roberson case.

This man from Florida allegedly traded stolen credit and debit card details through an online shop that he had set up.

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How Silk Road’s Rogue Agents Got Caught

Carl M. Force and Shaun W. Bridges, former federal agents, were charged with money laundering, fraud and related offenses for stealing bitcoins during their investigations into the underground black market Silkroad.

Forty-six-year-old Force, who hails from Baltimore, was working with the DEA as a Special Agent and thirty-two-year-old Bridges from Laurel, Maryland, was working with the Secret Service as a Special Agent when they were both included in the Baltimore Silkroad Task Force for investigating the illegal activities being carried out by the darknet marketplace.

While the charges leveled against Force include stealing of government property, fraud, conflict of interest and money laundering, charges leveled against Bridges are money laundering and wire fraud.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Carl M Force
Carl M Force, aka Nob, aka French Maid, aka Death from Above, aka the DEA agent busted for a host of felonies during his investigation of the Silk Road.

How Was Carl Force Caught

By October 2013, Force had been with the task force team, investigating the Silkroad, for a couple of years. During the time he carefully involved in a number of lucrative bitcoin side projects.

One of his projects was ripping off the Silkroad founder, who operated under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts,” of bitcoins.

Force had by then extorted as much as 1,200 bitcoins from the Silkroad founder and opened an account with the Slovenia-based bitcoin exchange Bitstamp to turn the digital currency into cash. This action seems to have sealed his fate.

Force used his undercover name, Eladio Guzman Fuentes, he commonly assumed during investigations as a DEA agent and produced a driver’s license, Social Security card and proof of residence, all connected to the name to open the account.

His documents were passed on to George Frost, Bitstamp’s general counsel, who found out that they were all forged documents.

When Frost confronted Force, he showed his real ID, his badge, and a Baltimore water bill. Though Frost allowed Force to set up an account, he did not feel comfortable with it.

In November, Force made two large withdrawals from Bitstamp, worth $34,000 and $96,000 in bitcoins into his bank account. Suspicious Frost contacted FinCEN.

The officer he talked to at FinCEN was Shaun Bridges, who told him that the case would be referred to the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice.

However, nothing happened. Force kept on transferring his bitcoin assets and even cleared his mortgage payment in full in December 2013.

Six months after the Silkroad founder was arrested, Force withdrew a large sum of $80,000 from Bitstamp in April 2014. Bitstamp employees observed that the IP addresses of Force were connected to Tor.

When asked about this, Force said that he used Tor for the purpose of privacy. In the last week of April 2014, when Force tried to withdraw $200,000 in bitcoins, Frost decided to freeze his account.

Frost then scheduled a meeting with Kathryn Haun, as assistant US attorney in San Francisco. She was the first cryptocurrency coordinator of the Department of Justice.

The meeting was also attended by Tigran Gambaryan, a special agent with IRS. Frost then told them about Force.

Gambaryan, who was aware of the tension between Silkroad investigation teams in New York and Baltimore, sensed that there was something more to the story than just rivalry between the agencies.

However, Haun and Gambaryan were not sure as to whether they should investigate Force’s behavior at all. But then, what made an investigation inevitable was Force’s subsequent action.

He contacted Bitstamp customer service and requested that all his transaction history be deleted.

While Gambaryan wanted to pull out Force’s financial records as well as the latter’s bitcoin activity and match them with transaction records that were already there in the Silkroad database under the government’s custody, Haun started her investigations from Shaun Bridges.

They had a conversation with Bridges through phone on May 6, 2014. His behavior set off alarm bells, and they decided to take Force’s case forward without Bridges’ help.

Gambaryan found out that Force used his undercover account Nob to get Ulbricht’s attention. He told the founder of Silkroad that he was interested in purchasing the website.

Ulbricht quoted $1 billion for the Silkroad site. After a few months, Force informed him that it was not cost-effective for him to do business in quantities below ten kilos.

The Silkroad founder wrote back to him saying that one of his staff would get back to him with the details of a buyer who can deal in large quantities. The buyer was Curtis Green, a Silkroad staffer.

He operated under the name “Flush” and was in charge of Silkroad Forums.

Green signed for a package containing 1 kg of cocaine that Force had arranged to be sent to him. When Green delivered the package to Force, he was arrested by a dozen of agents.

Green did a short stint in jail for cocaine possession, but he was brought out on bail and was questioned by the agents Force and Bridges for about 12 hours.

They asked him to spill out everything he knew about Silkroad, which he did. He even told them the password to his Silkroad account.

Later in the day, huge amounts of bitcoins were transferred to a Number13 account. Sellers on Silkroad also started losing bitcoins from their Silkroad accounts.

By the time the Silkroad founder realized this, as much as 20,000 bitcoins had disappeared.

Ulbricht thought Green was behind this and wanted to teach him a lesson. He turned to “Nob” for help, who was only too keen to oblige.

Initially, the Silkroad founder wanted Green to be beaten up but later on said that he should be executed. Nob demanded $80,000 for the job.

Green staged his own death and Nob got the payment. Force promptly handed over the money to the government.

However, Force had other ideas for getting money from the creator of Silkroad. He sent a message from his new account “Death From Above” to Ulbricht, saying that he was aware of the latter’s involvement in Green’s death. His aim was to get $250,000 from the creator of Silkroad.

Gambaryan found out that “Death From Above” is Force’s another account only because he had left a video footage of himself typing from the same account. Force’s extortion attempt failed as the Silkroad founder refused to pay him. Force then, acting as Nob, got Ross Ulbricht to pay him 400 bitcoins for counterintelligence information from a Justice Department employee Kevin.

Two months later, the Silkroad creator spent another 525 bitcoins. Force mentioned about the first payment in his report to superiors, but not about the second payment. However, a mistake committed by Ross helped Gambaryan to find out that the second payment went to Force’s another bitcoin wallet.

Force created another Silkroad account in the name of “French Maid,” offering information on the government’s investigation into Silkroad for $100,000 in bitcoins. The creator of Silkroad paid once again, and the money went into a personal account of Force.

Haun held a “proffer” session for Force along with Gambaryan. Force admitted to working as “Nob” and taking off bitcoins of the government. However, he acted as though he did it out of a big misunderstanding.

During the session, he also informed that he did not know anything about the accounts “French Maid” and “Death From Above.”

Gambaryan went through the vast Silkroad database once again and confirmed that Force was both “Death from Above” and “French Maid” from the particular version of PGP that he had in his e-mail signatures. Finally, Force was boxed in.

How Was Shaun Bridges Booked

Shaun Bridges
Shaun Bridges stole $820,000 worth of bitcoin and was sentenced to nearly six years in prison.

The investigation of Carl Force led to the apprehension of Shaun Bridges. In early December 2014, when Haun was getting ready to charge Carl Force, Gambaryan came up with a startling discovery.

He found out through Wallet Explorer, a smart Bitcoin block explorer that offers wallet labeling and address grouping service, that the second payment of 525 bitcoins was directly sent by the Silkroad founder (by manually cross-referencing his and Force’s bitcoin transactions) to another account.

This indicated the involvement of yet another person. Gambaryan investigated the matter further and started doubting whether Bridges and Number13 accounts were the same.

Haun and Gambaryan also found out that the stolen bitcoins have been sent to Mt. Gox exchange from the Number13 account. Gambaryan used a mutual legal assistance treaty procedure for accessing the financial records of the Japanese bankruptcy trustee.

The records showed money had been moved to a Fidelity account registered as “Quantum Investments” from the Mt. Gox exchange. Quantum Investments was found to be a company registered by Bridges in his name and home address.

Bridges resigned from his position in the Secret Service on March 15, 2015, and this suggested strongly that the other person involved in stealing the Silkroad founder’s and government’s money was none other than himself.

A proffer session was offered to Bridges also. However, he was unrepentant and arrogant during the session.

Charges were filed against both the Silkroad agents on March 30, 2015. Within one month, Bridges, and a few weeks later, Force, pleaded guilty.

Bridges and Force were sentenced to 71 months and 78 months, respectively, in prison.

While Force is serving his term in a federal prison located near Louisville, Kentucky, Bridges is in the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institution in Indiana.

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