A perfect example of how sellers and buyers can be cheated is the case of a prominent Dutch criminal who ran an easily accessible website for selling drugs. After a few months, the website owner started to run into problems with his suppliers, so he decided to take a well deserved holiday to Thailand. After a short period of time, the website went offline and the owner’s customers received automated messages, informing them that their orders were shipped.
Unfortunately, the orders did not ship, but the criminals behind the website made sure to take the customers’ money. The website owner continued to receive messages from customers that had not yet received their orders. He decided to check the website himself, but to his surprise the website was no longer under his control. The criminals who had hacked the website had installed a different front page and a new administration panel.
After a few days, the website owner received an e-mail from the new administrators. They offered to return the website to its original owner, providing he pay a ransom in the form of bitcoins. The website owner had two choices: either to take the risk of paying the ransom and hope he would get his website back, or to do nothing and risk the criminals exposing all of his customers. He decided to take the risk and pay the criminals.
The criminals did return the website, but not before taking the opportunity to hack his forum and steal the usernames and passwords of all of his customers. The criminals then used the logins to sell the drugs from the customers’ accounts and pocket the profits.
Darknet marketplaces can offer a wide range of goods, so it is not surprising that scammers would try to make a quick buck by setting up fake shops. These shops are set up to look like a legitimate store and will have a fake profile and positive feedback from fake accounts. To make the shop look even more legitimate, a scammer might send out messages to their friends, informing them that they can finally buy their favorite brand-name products online.
Some scammers try to make a quick buck by setting up a fake store.
When the victims arrive at the website and place an order, the scammer will either:
Take the money and run, or
Send the victim a fake package, with a fake tracking number.
The victims who choose to go with the first option will likely never see their money again. The victims who choose the second option will probably receive a fake package, but they will be unlikely to receive a refund.
Fake escrow services
The idea behind an escrow service is to create a safe zone for buyers and sellers. The seller can ship the goods and put them in the hands of the escrow service. The seller will not receive the money until the buyer confirms that he has received the goods as described.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few fake escrow services online. The scammers behind these services take orders from both the buyer and seller and then simply keep the money for themselves.
Fake ID cards
The darknet is a great place to get fake ID cards. The scammers behind these services will either send the victim a fake ID card, or they will take the money and run.
What to do if you fall victim to a scam?
If you are a buyer, and you have not yet received your package or you have received a fake package, you should try to contact the seller. Some scammers will be willing to refund the money if you threaten to report them, or if you threaten to leave negative feedback.
If you are a seller, but you have yet to receive payment, you should try to contact the buyer. Some scammers will be willing to send you a fake payment receipt, but they will keep the rest of the money.
If you have already sent a fake payment receipt, you should try to contact your payment provider. The payment provider should be able to assist you and will be able to refund your money.
If you have already sent a fake package, you should contact the postal service and ask them to take the package back. You should also contact the authorities, so they can track down the scammer and bring them to justice.
If you have been the victim of a scam, you should also make sure to leave negative feedback for the scammer. This way, other users will be warned about the scammer and will hopefully not fall victim to their scams.