Illicit Drug Trade Via Dark Web Surges Nearly 500% During Coronavirus Pandemic

Researchers have noticed a surge in the illegal drug trade in dark web which includes the sale of MDMA, cocaine and cannabis

The sale of illegal drugs in recent times in the dark web, which cannot be accessed using usual software, has surged by 495 percent in the past few months as the worldwide lockdowns forced the drug dealers to seek alternatives in terms of distributing their products.

Reports claimed that while the illegal cannabis posting in the underground marketplaces grew by 555 percent, posting for MDMA (methylenedioxy-methylamphetamine) jumped by 224 percent. However, it should be mentioned that the biggest increases have been noticed in terms of the listings for cocaine that surged by 1,000 percent between December 2019 and April 2020.

Drug Trade via the Dark Web

Dark web
Dark Web Pixabay

The cyber intelligence firm Sixgill, which monitors dark web activities, revealed in a 17-page report that "The supply-side growth reflects a mass shift from street-level dealing with the digital underground as the pandemic emptied streets and public places. Like all consumers, dark web shoppers may have been driven to online shopping due to fear of physical contact."

The report also mentioned that the trade of stolen credit cards, bank account details, and other illegal activities in the dark web remained stable during the same period which indicates that the Coronavirus lockdowns in several countries are the reason behind the surge in such listings.

As per the researchers at Sixgill, they noticed a growth in demand, even though it was not close enough as pronounced as the increased supply. It resulted in an increase in promotions and 'Coronavirus sales' on underground marketplaces, "leaving the price of illicit drugs online to fall to bargain prices."

The Dark Web Sale

Dark Web
Dark Web Illegal Drug Sale Pixabay

As per the report, the researchers have noticed a 10-fold surge in terms of "bargains" as well as in "discounts" in early 2020. But it is not clear why the online demands of the drugs only rose modestly.

However, researchers have speculated that this modest increase could be a result of the buyers being more cautious about the use of the internet to purchase any kind of illegal drug. In the report, Sixgill researchers mentioned that "The dynamics that played out in the underground illicit drug trade mirrored those in legitimate online sectors."

In addition, they said that the underground illegal drug business serves as a "Microcosm for these broader global dynamics. In its adaptability to the crisis, it highlighted the increasing reliance of criminal networks on the internet, and the increasing need to put our ear to the internet's underground."

Dark Web Activities

Earlier it was reported that cybercriminals have been using the dark web while claiming to sell blood and saliva samples of a Coronavirus infected person. The scam advertisement was found in the dark web market site called Own Shop. The ad claims to offer the blood for a hefty price tag of $1000. In the post, the creator of the ad wrote that "I do this to provide for my family financially."

However, this is not the only scam ad that became popular in the underground market as there are many similar ads that offer tests or treatments for the COVID-19. In the dark web, many scammers have also posted ads for fake temperature detectors and vaccines claiming to cure new Coronavirus.

Related topics : Cybersecurity Coronavirus