Archives For Black Market Reloaded

Another one bites the dust (for now):

Black Market Reloaded, one of the most successful Deep Web black markets of all time and the heir apparent to Silk Road, has abruptly shut down.  Founder Backopy announced earlier today that the market’s source code was discovered and leaked by a hacker.

Attempting to connect to Black Market Reloaded leaves a user with an error message: “Error connecting to DB!”

Black Market Reloaded was founded in June 2011 after Silk Road achieved worldwide fame thanks to an article in Gawker. It has been the second-most profitable Deep Web black market for the majority of its existence.

To maintain anonymity, Backopy wrote that he used both a Virtual Private Server and the powerful anonymizing technology of Tor. That choice backfired on him when an administrator at the VPS apparently “stole the code and leaked it.”

“This means I can’t operate anymore.”

Read more at the Daily Dot.

The cops may have just arrested one of the top gun dealers and identity thieves on the Deep Web, they just don’t know it yet.

Right now, Adam Bunger is sitting in police custody in Kentucky facing three felony charges for illegally selling and shipping guns around the world from a group of sites that sit hidden behind walls of encryption and anonymity.

Police accuse him of making three gun sales to Australia, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. Bunger is facing up to 15 years in jail, but he may have something else on his mind. If chatter on the underground websites he frequented is true, Bunger was involved in a lot more than just gun sales.

Read more at the Daily Dot.

Atlantis, the third largest and newest black market on the deep web, has more than doubled business in the past six weeks. Three months after launch, they’ve processed a total of $520,800 worth of orders. The founders, vendors and customers would like much, much more.

atlantisfront

If the online drug trade is theater, Silk Road is standing center stage. The web’s most successful and well known black market is making millions of dollars worth of sales every month while the media spotlight keeps the public’s attention on it.

Black Market Reloaded is off in the relative shade of stage right, growing steadily, processing around one million dollars in sales per month and obviously happy to not be paid quite so much attention as Silk Road is.

With few exceptions, the stage looked basically this way for nearly two years until the recent emergence of a new player.

Atlantis Marketplace‘s March 2013 entrance was dramatic. The announcement that a new black market had been launched was made on numerous forums, notably including Silk Road’s newbie subforum.

The tone often veered toward antagonistic. Silk Road user masterblaster wrote this about Atlantis:

Faster,
Cheaper,
Functional
Stable

So long road, we wont miss your 2 minutes page loads and frequent crashes. Hey, why are you all reading this, is the road down again?

Some users wondered if Atlantis had astroturfed support on Silk Road’s forums. Others wondered if Atlantis could compete with the giants already on stage. Most troubling of all, many wondered if Atlantis was a sleek new honeypot created by law enforcement with the goal of of luring customers and vendors to their undoing.

“As long as the road is alive this is where i will be,” wrote worm11. “Atlantis sounds like it is run by fucking cops!”

Loera and Vladimir are the two public faces behind Atlantis. They are the counterparts to Silk Road’s Dear Leader Dread Pirate Roberts and Black Market Reloaded’s founder backopy.

Loera and Vladimir refer to themselves as executives. In an attempt to address the questions surrounding their new business, the pair spoke with All Things Vice’s Eileen Ormsby in April, six weeks after launch.

“It’s only natural for people to be a bit sceptical at first,” he says. “However many people have made successful sales on Atlantis, and the scepticism is starting to fade”. He states that Dread Pirate Roberts (Silk Road’s founder) had to begin under the same circumstances.

As Ormsby pointed out, that statement doesn’t ring particularly true. Dread Pirate Roberts, the founder and owner of Silk Road, effectively launched an industry. She wrote:

At the time Silk Road started, there was no knowledge of internet drug trade outside a few uber-geeks, and no incentive for the law to create such a honeypot.  Now, with global mainstream media coverage and drug dealers openly and blatantly advertising their wares online, mass arrests would be seen by the public as a win in the ongoing ‘War on Drugs’. Such sting operations in the face of public outrage are not unprecedented.

“There’s no good way to prove to the community that we’re not a honeypot, Loera concedes. “All we can do is continue to do what we’re doing, and the success stories of the community will speak for themselves”.

As the market recently crossed the $500,000 milestone, the success stories have steadily begun to roll in.

The most recent statistics for Silk Road date back to an August 2012 study which estimated that the marketplace did $15.2 million US dollars in sales annually or $1.2 million US dollars in sales per month approximately 1.5 years after launch. The number has likely grown considerably by now, nearly a year of growth later.

Black Market Reloaded’s most recent statistics (from April 2013) claim about $700,000 per month in transactions on the market. If that number remains steady — and it generally hasn’t remained steady, it’s growing quickly — BMR can expect $8.4 million in sales annually.

In three months since the launch of Atlantis, the new market has processed a grand total of $520,800 worth of orders. That plays out to about $173,600 per month and $2 million in sales annually.

However, those last two numbers critically undershoot what ought to be expected from the market over the rest of the year. Over the last six weeks, the amount of money in circulation on Atlantis has more than doubled. Like Silk Road and BMR, Atlantis is on a steadily upward trajectory.

“I’d say we’re around two to three times busier than we were since our interview with Eiley from All Things Vice,” the two founders wrote in an interview conducted this week.

Just like at BMR and, presumably, Silk Road, it seems that no growth ceiling has been hit. In fact, there’s little reason to believe any of the players in the online drug trade will reach that growth ceiling anytime soon.

Conservative estimates show these three black markets will combine to process at least $25 million in sales this year. Impressive though it is, $25 million is an infinitesimal portion of the worldwide drug trade (which totals in the hundreds of billions at least). As these online marketplaces grow, as they build more trust, visibility and features, they can take advantage of an increasingly online-savvy, drug-friendly world. Considering the global legal environment, the market’s growth potential is far from infinite and will meet considerable obstacles — don’t get too excited — but the potential has not been met yet.

The big question is, just how much of the world’s drug trade can shift to the internet?

blackmarket chart 62013

It’s safe to assume that these numbers will prove to be low by December 2013.

While the vendors at Black Market Reloaded seem happy to play wealthy supporting roles, Loera and Vladimir aim to lead despite the host of challenges that high visibility has brought Silk Road. I asked what Atlantis has that the Road doesn’t.

“To put it bluntly, a well written codebase and server setup. SR claims to have suffered from ‘DDoS’ attacks, which is very unlikely due to the way Tor hidden services are designed. It’s far more likely to me and technical gurus I’ve consulted that it was a result of poor or uncoping infrastructure. Most likely database related. Ironically we still received all the blame for the supposed ‘attacks’.”

The biggest challenge for Atlantis has been building a customer base.

“Finding the traffic has been our only struggle so far. It’s hard to convince people to change their ways, they become complacent. We need to show them that it’s worth it!”

Atlantis gets thousands of visitors per day, wrote Loera, and processes “in the low hundreds of orders a day. These do fluctuate though. Sometimes we have low days. We have close to 600 vendors at this point (half of SR’s vendor count according to a blog I read recently), so they’re distributed across all of them.”

A recent prominent thread on the Atlantis forums featured numerous vendors wondering how the operation could attract more traffic.

“i dont even have any damn feedback on SR yet,” wrote vendor MissBliss, “and ALREADY with listings only 48 hours old on the road, i’ve sold just about 2/3 as many pills vs what i’ve sold on atlantis for over a month with a priority listing & glowing feedback… cant wait till these SR sales get reviewed and more buyers over there become comfortable with me.. expecting shit to really take off in the next few days or week.”

Canman, a cannabis vendor on both markets, compared the two:

“Experience wise, Silk Road contains the critical mass of buyers which is the main difference,” he wrote. “I would say I sell 20-30 times the volume on Silk Road, compared to Atlantis as it stands. Silk Road core site functionality works well, but Atlantis has the feel of a more seasoned development team in looks and the rapid deployment of new features.”

TheDrugFederation is the third largest vendor on Atlantis with 115 items sold in two months including LSD, MDMA and Adderall. He recently began selling on Silk Road as well.

The prospect of prominent Atlantis vendors opening up accounts and selling many times more product on Silk Road is definitely worrisome for Atlantis management. However, none of the vendors who have laid down roots at the new market seem to want to abandon it. Vendors want to stay because it’s easy and smart to list your products on multiple sites.

“No, I can not see any point where I would leave Atlantis,” wrote canman. “I personally did not expect even this volume early on, it is going to take time to build repeat customer business and trust with Atlantis as a whole. I am also very satisfied with the staff running Atlantis. Feature requests are actually listened to and support requests handled very quickly. Silk Road suffers a little from its popularity and I think their staff get somewhat overwhelmed at times, and backlogs build up.”

There are two paths toward growth for Atlantis.

Continue Reading…

It’s been a full two years since backopy launched Black Market Reloaded on June 10, 2011. The latest statistics are over a month old (April 30, 2013) but show that the site was then approaching $700,000 in monthly transactions.

apr-2013

 

Here’s BMR wearing its birthday best today. The front page features all the ingredients of an interesting birthday party: weed, wine, credit cards, ecstasy, 2C-B, speed, drivers licenses and a guide to rolling joints.

bmrfront62013

Silk Road made it’s own move to toddlerhood earlier this year, celebrating its two year birthday in February.

They grow up so fast.

feb-13-bmr

 

 

Black Market Reloaded, the most visible competitor to Silk Road in the world of Tor marketplaces, grew to almost $400,000 in sales this month according to statistics released by founder backopy. This follows last month’s high of 16,000 new registrations, a number that fell slightly this month. There are 6,889 items publicly available on BMR at this moment, compared to 5,514 last month.

To compare, Silk Road has 11,635 items publicly on sale right now. A month ago, that number was only 3,391. The amount of money changing hands each month on Silk Road is considerably higher than on BMR but Dread Pirate Roberts releases no statistics and has actively fought attempts to extract data from the site.

ramp

A Russian law passed in November 2012 aimed at blacklisting sites promoting drug use has apparently just blocked the popular drug education website Erowid.org for certain users in the country according to a post on Reddit. A Russian government site listing prohibited sites shows that Erowid was added to the register earlier this month and was blocked on February 23. Russian user GreatfulListener says it is only “a matter of time” before the block affects more Russian internet service providers.

Erowid remains available in Russia via the Tor network. In fact, the Russian Tor community has undergone significant growth over the last year. RAMP, the Russian Anonymous MarketPlace, is now providing a leading Russian alternative to the English-speaking Silk Road.

RAMP, founded in early 2012, boasts 5,867 members on its forums. Silk Road, the center of great media attention, has 54,247 members while Black Market Reloaded, a quiet but strong success, has 4,495 members.

The culture of the place is somewhat similar to Silk Road. In fact, many of the customers seem to use both marketplaces.

Forum discussions touch on important topics such as sales, safety and scam reports. Transactions are handled in a distinctly simple way: instead of a programmed escrow system reminiscent of Silk Road, RAMP operates through emails. A customer can use the RAMP’s escrow (which takes 5% off the top for the site’s operators) by emailing the site’s owners or a customer has the option todeal with the vendor directly.

RAMP’s two owners are a couple of Russians named Darkside (who handles customer and vendor relations) and Orange (who handles design and the backend of the site).

ramp-passionRAMP makes much of its income through advertising. After a user buys a vendor account for 5 bitcoins (currently $150), they can purchase sticky topics for one month (3 BTC), two months (5 BTC) or 3 months (7 BTC). Banners on the top of the site costs 10 BTC per month. The user Passion is currently advertising the sale of fentanyl (seen to the right). 1 gram costs 1400 Rubles ($45).

Unlike Silk Road and Black Market Reloaded, several vendors accept payment in WebMoney (a Russian e-commerce company serving a number of currencies) in addition to Bitcoins. RAMP also has a thread dedicated to reviewing Silk Road vendors who can service Eastern Europe.

Some RAMP vendors have an awfully interesting way of delivering their product:

If you’re in the Moscow area, Passion will make a “drop” in an out of the way place (such as an abandoned building) within 24 hours of a purchase and send the customer the coordinates on Google Maps. It’s up to the customer to make the pick up. It’s a decidedly old school twist on the new online drug marketplace that comes with several obvious potential downfalls. On the bright side, the drop can save time if you’re in a fix: you can potentially get your drugs on the same day you place your order. Muscovites have all the luck!

Like every anonymous marketplace, RAMP is not without scammers and problems. In fact, the most viewed thread is about a Doctor Om, a Moscow-based vendor who offered hashish, amphetamines and other drugs. Om hasn’t delivered product to dozens of customers for several weeks now, prompting many to call him the site’s worst scammer. It’s unclear at this time just how much money was involved in the transactions but it’s safe to say thousands of dollars are at stake.

If RAMP is Russia’s smaller and stranger Silk Road, the Shop of Magic Products (seen below) seems to hope to take its own place as the region’s version of Black Market Reloaded, a quiet, well-run and relatively uninhibited market for vendors of many goods. The site has been around since at least October 2012 but has never been able to pick up much momentum. Today, it offers various forged documents as well as a handful of drugs but activity has slowed to a crawl and the website is subject to regular errors. Bro, the man behind SMP, has a lot of work ahead of him if he hopes to compete with RAMP for customers.

ovamad

 

 

bmr-stats january 13

Black Market Reloaded, the most prominent competitor to Silk Road in the growing world of Tor marketplaces, processed 16,000 new registrations last month, making January its biggest month ever for new registrations, according to its founder backopy. November and January stand as the busiest trading months by volume in US dollars and bitcoins.

There are 5,514 items publicly available on Black Market Reloaded at this moment compared to 3,391 on Silk Road. It’s important to note that a significant chunk of items available cannot be seen by the public on Silk Road. Vendors on Silk Road can and often do choose to go into “stealth mode” to sell privately to their established customers rather than publicly. This helps them avoid unwanted notoriety and the torrent of orders that a “superstar seller” is likely to receive.

Backopy is making a habit of releasing statistics every few months.

Black Market Reloaded has taken the formula that made Silk Road successful and expanded upon it, allowing sales in categories such as weapons and data that Silk Road forbids. Silk Road’s founder, Dread Pirate Roberts, has made the choice to avoid these sales categories.

“Practically speaking, there are many powerful adversaries of Silk Road and if we are to survive, we must not take them all on at once,” reads the Silk Road Seller’s Guide. Although it began as a limitless market, Black Market Reloaded has implemented at least some regulations. Assassinations, for instance, are not allowed on the market because the category attracts too many scammers.

BMR users responded enthusiastically to the new statistics.

“This is the place to be,” wrote user organix, a vendor who has been a part of the site since last July. “I noticed myself that the last few months business was building up and this month its gone way up. SR seems to always be on the verge of falling apart or you can’t get on it. Let sr take the publicity and let le focus on them. The graph doesn’t show new vendor registrations but i’m sure thats up too. I remember when listings on drugs were a few hundred and now its over 2600.”

“Yeah this is sweet,” wrote John Eod, a newer member. “I have only been on here a few months (5) but have seen a steady increase in action.  All my transactions have gone great so far too, now just looking forward to even more venders selling even more good stuff!!  Really looking for some liquid lsd if anybody out there has it.”

silkroadlogo

“An individual’s rights ARE the goal, ARE the mission, ARE the program.”

When Silk Road launched in February 2011, it was one of several online marketplaces selling drugs to the public. If a buyer wanted to shop around, the Open Vendor Database (OVDB) and The Farmer’s Market (TFM) were two other relatively popular options available around that time. In 2012, OVDB was absorbed into Silk Road and TFM fell to a major drug bust. The Silk Road remains active today as the largest market of its kind.

Online drug markets have a long, difficult-to-pin-down past that extends back beyond Silk Road and the Bitcoins spent there to more than a decade of dealing over different mediums. Finding information on past markets is tricky. When asked, some veteran vendors will talk about older digital currencies such as e-gold, PecunixLiberty Reserve and even Western Union and PayPal being used on markets like The Hive or in small, ephemeral IRC channels. Still others point to deals made in the 1990s and even further back on Usenet.

Some of the old vendors and buyers from these markets will not talk about them in public. Years after most of these markets ceased to exist, former patrons still stick to an old ethos that once covered them all: Loose lips sink ships.

It took black markets like Silk Road using anonymizing tools such as Bitcoin and Tor to bring these activities closer to sunlight.

“Silk Road is hands down the most popular mainstream internet drug market to ever be,” wrote user kmfkewm. “It also uses some of the best security honestly, although there is room for improvement for sure. It was the first community to embrace Bitcoin and one of the first to operate openly (OVDB launching almost simultaneously and Black Market Reloaded coming shortly after). It was the second drug market to be structured similar to E-bay or Amazon (the others were more like OVDB with a forum and private message system versus a market interface). TFM was the first market to have a market interface built into their community as far as I know, but I am pretty sure the Silk Road interface pwnt theirs.”

silk road today

Whereas most older markets had operated as closed forums, chats, instant messages or otherwise privately organized groups, Silk Road is the most recognizable name in a new generation of marketplaces. The site’s open market, large and active community, polished interface and business model mimicking the best of eBay, Craigslist and Amazon have played instrumental roles in the rise of the Road.

Continue Reading…