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Law Enforcement Leave Fake Negative Reviews to Disrupt Darknet Markets

While law enforcement is virtually powerless to shut down the darknet drug trade, new research suggests that law enforcement may be able to disrupt it to a certain extent and discourage new buyers from making purchases by leaving fake negative reviews. The researchers studied the sale of opioids on Crypto Market during a six month period which covered between October of 2015 through April of 2016. Opioid sales made up the second largest category of drugs sold on Crypto Market, with the largest category being marijuana sales.

The paper was written by sociology researchers at the Ohio State University including lead author Scott Duxbury, who is a doctoral student, and Dana Haynie, a professor of sociology. In August, Duxbury and Haynie presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. The two researchers also published their paper in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology. Their research involved nearly 60 opioid vendors and just over 700 users who purchased from those vendors. Most of the people who purchased opioids from the vendors that were studied only purchased products once. The researchers are not certain why most buyers only made a single purchase, however, they speculated that many buyers may have just been experimenting.

The listings that were studied were for heroin or prescription opioid drugs, and it doesn’t appear they included research chemical opioids such as fentanyl analogs and U47700. Over 60% of the sales that were studied occurred in the United States, nearly 10% occurred in Canada, and the rest occurred in various European countries such as France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Thirteen of the vendors that were included in the study had drugs listed for sale but who did not receive any orders during the six month period that was monitored.

The researchers concluded that the best way to disrupt online drug sales is to focus on prevention efforts when markets and vendors are just beginning operations. It is much harder for law enforcement to disrupt markets and vendors once they have already been established and have a trusted reputation. For law enforcement the best time to try and disrupt a market is, “while a market is first emerging, it may be easier to target vendors as they register, preventing them from establishing trust in the first place and undermining the market itself,” the researchers concluded. “Thus, the most effective way to curb Tor network drug trafficking may be to simply target emerging vendors’ reputation. For example, law enforcement may be able to make a few small transactions with emerging vendors and give negative evaluations. This may prevent the vendor from establishing a clientele base and free up more intensive law enforcement efforts to focus on the high-profile vendors in prolific markets,” the researchers stated in their paper. This conclusion is in line with the findings of research into disrupting traditional offline drug markets, which also found that disruption is easiest to create during the early stages of a drug market forming.

While law enforcement may be successful in preventing new people from purchasing from vendors, it is unlikely to stop the most dedicated buyers from continuing to make purchases, as they already have established a relationship and trust with the vendor. This core group of repeat darknet market buyers and sellers are much less likely to be disrupted by law enforcement than they would be offline.The researchers believe that negative reviews would prevent a darknet market from growing. During the six months that Crypto Market was studied, the researchers found that only 18% of buyers made more than a single purchase. Once a buyer had found a vendor which they trusted, only 30% would continue to shop around. The researchers concluded that prices aren’t an important factor when users make their first purchase, and that finding a trusted vendor was much more important to buyers. Unlike offline drug dealing, there aren’t a few key players who can be taken out. On the darknet markets, there are a large number of vendors who will take the place of any key vendors which get taken out by law enforcement.

8 comments

  1. so they’re spending peoples tax money on buying drugs to leave negative reviews?

    • TaskMaster

      Fine by me, Vendors will just give away free samples, and 10 dollar orders to build up trust again. Why does the guy on the street care if 10 Valium get seized? So we order 10 a few times, then 25 etc, all the while the reviews go up again. As usual the feds getting involved help us out. SR1.0 – I and 70% of all Vendors & Buyers knew not these sort of sites even existed till it was all over the news! Stopping the selling of fraud, firearms etc I agree, but leave the opiates for the people well alone. Unless you first ban alcohol and tobacco and caffeine, otherwise stop being so damn hypocritical DEA! (Enjoy your coffee, it releases dopamine, you know that right?)
      PGP on old vendors is kept by most of us for years.

      Shoot, self, in, foot, tyvvvm.

    • Pretty much….

  2. @miodaju21: no, they are spreading fake news on forums like DNMA, Reddit, TheHub about darknet markets. For example, saying that they can’t withdraw money from Dream Market and that they don’t get any replies from the TradeRoute staff and saying they are being selectively scammed by vendors.
    In that way they bring the reputation of the good markets and vendors down. In their post they also invite you to Valhalla (which has been seized by LE). They say things for example like: ”Hey, I got scammed on Dream Market, but I heard a lot of good things about Valhalla, anyone got an invite?” and moments after, some newcomer replies with an invite to Valhalla.

  3. sucemabitepauvrecon

    hehe, they busted AB and Hansa and fucked a ton of people…but yet they seem so desperate and helpless…they remind me to somebody called Sysiphus :P

    I can’t wait for the moment when the first constitutive people in europe finally start to legalize M, followed by a drama-political domino-effect with far-reaching implications for the whole continent, ay caramba! In the UK (a pretty good), Switzerland (large) and the United States (also large) an impressive “legalize it” majority has emerged, getting more popular day by day. Even in Germany it’s about 50/50 nowdays – absolutely unthinkable a couple years ago. And the tendency is crystal-clear…sisisi

    This is no science fiction nor a wishfull thinking my amigos, dear police and so beloved “LE” :) So, enjoy it as long as you can you shortsighted subservient bastards, cause we gonna fuck you sideways, very soon, again and again, blowing non-stop our ganja smoke into your faces with a big smile and shouting at your ugly mug a big fat “now go fuck yourself!!” Delicious.

    In this spirit, live and let live :)

    Peace

  4. hehe, they busted AB and Hansa and fucked a ton of people…but yet they seem so desperate and helpless…they strongly remind me of Sysiphus :P

    I can’t wait for the moment when the first constitutive people in europe finally start to legalize M, followed by a drama-political domino-effect with far-reaching implications for the whole continent, ay caramba! In the UK (a pretty good), Switzerland (large) and the United States (also large) an impressive “legalize it” majority has emerged, getting more popular day by day. Even in Germany it’s about 50/50 nowdays – unthinkable a couple years ago. And the tendency for the future is crystal-clear…

    This is no science fiction nor wishfull thinking dear police and my so beloved “LE” :) Well then, enjoy it as long as you can you poor shortsighted subservient whichhunters, because sooner or later the whole sickening hypocrisis about drugs you stand for is gonna hit back at you mercilessly, and slosh you down of the moral high ground for good. It’s gonna be divine.

    In this spirit, live and let live :)

  5. fucking typical lazy no good bunch of trogs.

    Attack those at the bottom to deter prospective punters
    and leave the upper echelons alone. How the fuck is that
    going to deter people? All that will happen is that instead
    of a thousand pots being shared by a thousand people there will be a thousand pots shared by 50 people a
    couple of whom will have links to Uncle Sam. Where the
    fuck is Castro when you need him

  6. we could take the positive out of this hare brained
    pathetic nonsense.

    Can anybody tell me when official U.S. attempts to
    win the hearts and minds of people who dont want
    their hearts minds won has ever been effective?
    How can a nation top heavy with talent have these
    sightless visionaries making policy decisions that
    are the sitcoms of tomorrow. Next thing you now it’
    ll be about turn and march back into Afghanistan.

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