A happy Silk Road customer enjoys his new package.
Archives For Silk Road
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.
Update: On March 2, Lucy’s customers began reporting receiving their orders. Rather than a scam, this appears to be the grossest misunderstanding and most absurd example of poor customer relations in Silk Road history. We’ll keep you posted.
Have you caught your breath in the few days since EnterTheMatrix pulled a five-figure scam on Silk Road?
The latest vendor leaving customers feeling scammed is LucyDrop, a top 1% Canadian LSD vendor who has been successfully selling her LSD on the Road for five months.
Lucy is a notable vendor for several reasons: first, she (or he) demands all of her regular customers finalize all payments early. The Silk Road standard — in fact, the first strong recommendation to all Silk Road members — is to never shop outside of escrow as it leaves customers vulnerable to scams. Lucy demands that her customers finalize early and then encourages a 5/5 review immediately upon paying — not receiving and trying out the actual product.
Lucy was a highly regarded vendor until this month began. Her customers began to complain that she was sending out low quality LSD. When the complaints hit a fever pitch, Lucy gave a mea culpa and declared that she’d be replacing everyone’s LSD for free to make amends. Here’s what she wrote on February 20:
Everyone who had a problem (that ordered from the weak batch… i know which batch was affected so dont try and get free reships) will get a free reship at no cost, along with my most sincere apologies.
Reships will begin to go on starting on Monday. Please do not message me about a reship before Monday.
If i mark it as read, it means i got your order and address and it will be reshipped. Please do not message me saying “did you get my address? when will it go out? thanks for the reship” as it will just add to the insane amount of messages i already get.
While i am taking care of everybody, i will not have time to answer trivial questions, and will be focussing all my effort on getting those reships out. Please do not message me unless you have an urgent message.. “Hey i ordered on X date and was wondering where it is” does not fall under URGENT.
Coincidentally, all of her customers have just that very same problem: they ordered her LSD and now they’re wondering just where it is. It seems that almost every customer who ordered from Lucy on or around February 6 has not received their packages. It’s been the subject of much discussion on the Silk Road forums and Reddit.
On February 27, she addressed the slow shipping complaints:
1-4 weeks is not uncommon for standard ground mail with no tracking… it’s ground mail (the slowest possible way of mailing something)it always varies… i have had someone in aus receive in 6 days, and someone domestic wait 3 weeks for stuff mailed out at the same time before.
also, as a top vendor, sometimes we get a ton of orders so if we mark it in transit on the 10th for example, its possible that it may get actually put out on the 12th. that + bad weather across north america + cutbacks with post…. you can see how it can cause some delays as always, i am here, and i always take care of all of my customers.. like i am doing with the reships.
What are the odds that everyone is getting their orders in four weeks?
Taking a look at Lucy’s feedback starts to reveal just how much business she’s done this month, all of which was finalized early and almost none of which has been delivered. Earlier this week, reddit user saysthelion scoured the feedback list and delivered a rough estimate of how much money Lucy has made this month. Five days have passed and it’s clear the number is significantly larger.
Here are the latest numbers:
Since February 6, Lucy has processed at least 135 orders for “25 x 100ug LSD – Clean and REAL – Lab tested – ฿4.53″ product. Today, that’s worth $20,115.
She’s processed 305 orders for “10 hits 100+ug CLEAN and REAL LSD *limited bonus * – ฿2.19″ worth $21,960.
Finally, she’s processed 85 orders for “50 x 100ug LSD Blotters – Laid with Fluff – ฿8.29″ worth $23,205.
All together, that adds up to $65,280 worth of payments made to Lucy outside of escrow since February 6, few if any of which have actually resulted in product being delivered to customers. The actual total she scammed out of Silk Road may be a bit higher than that number — several customers who made orders prior to that date are slowly coming forward to say they still haven’t received orders.
Keep in mind that the total amount Lucy makes depends on when she exchanges the Bitcoins for another currency. Bitcoins have reached record highs in recent days and is currently sitting at at $33.20 according to Mt. Gox. This would be a great time to cash out for a scammer.
Some users are still expecting her to fulfill her replacement orders and continue vending. “Im expecting my “Free” package early next week, will let you know if i receive them,” wrote user WaveMyboatHello.
justdownthesilkroad responded: “Personally I think that anyone who believes LucyDrop is going to ship out massive quantities of free LSD isn’t thinking it all the way through.”
The sales haven’t stopped. Despite all the uncertainty on the forums and in her feedback threads, Lucy has made hundreds of dollars of sales in the last couple of hours alone. Each one of them has communicated with Lucy, finalized the transaction early and padded her feedback with 5/5.
Like Silk Road scammers of the past, Lucy still has backers on the forums. Because she built up a sterling reputation, several posters say they’re expecting her to pull through. The vast majority, though, seem resigned to their money being lost.
Not all of Lucy’s 5/5 reviews are positive:
Vendor asked me to FE on a 10-strip in violation of the terms on his vendor page – I asked for a refund and it took a few days but he did give me my money back with an apology, so I will not take away any feedback points.
Would never order again.
Reddit user saysthelion had this perspective almost a week ago:
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 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.
Matthew Karl Nelson of North Naples, Florida was arrested on Thursday, February 21 when receiving a package containing 106 grams of ecstasy, reports Naples News.
The Fort Myers office of customs and border patrol notified the Collier County Sheriff’s Office about the package on Wednesday after learning it contained 106 grams of ecstasy, according to an arrest report.
Nelson bought the ecstasy from trusted top 5% Silk Road vendor luckylucianno. Lucianno has 100% positive feedback on 241 transactions over the course of five months of selling. He’s known for shipping high quantities of high quality ecstasy. An order of 106 grams of ecstasy would have cost Nelson about $2,760 based on Lucianno’s current prices.
Shortly after getting busted, Nelson went onto Silk Road to warn others of his bust. His posts were eventually deleted as was all discussion surrounding the bust. This follows the arrest and prosecution of Paul Leslie Howard, an Australian Silk Roader, whose forum posts were used against him in trial.
Reddit’s /r/SilkRoad discussed the conversation:
Scout, a global moderator in Silk Road’s forums, deleted all discussion of the incident earlier today as word of the incident spread.
Guys, please DO NOT talk about or refer to those things. If you want to discuss them with Lucky, do so in a private message. Not here.
For his part, LuckyLucianno wants customers to “think about [their] own safety.” Lucianno put a hold on orders of 100 grams or more but continued smaller orders. He wrote:
we should take a break til we figure out whats up
There is still outstanding orders in transit, let them land and everyone be safe and we figure out whats next
I am still offering 28 and 50g listings
Police said they found “marijuana, a scale and packaging for the ecstasy pills inside the home,” reports Naples News.
Nelson, faces a felony charge of trafficking phenethylamines and misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia possession. As of Friday, he remained at the Naples Jail Center on bonds totaling $60,000.
Silk Road’s smart new tactic when faced with a bust seems to be to delete all evidence of the user’s involvement with the site. This has the potential to protect Nelson from himself — if (or when) the police found his posts, they would have found him admitting to ordering that very package. This would have led them to his entire Silk Road history, a troubling prospect for Nelson and for a site that wants to protect its customers.
Update: Shortly after this story was posted, Silk Road administrators deleted LuckyLuciano’s feedback thread, a key part of any Silk Road vendor’s business. Another member asked about the situation and moderator Scout responded:
The thread was deleted in order to help protect LL and his clients. He did not take it down – we did it at the request of several members (and with the permission of LL). The Tulane shipment was not his, as he hasn’t had any orders to that area. Also, I’ve edited the title of the thread to remove LL’s name since he had nothing to do with the Tulane package and there’s no reason to call him out for it.
“If you tried ecstasy then you’d know why I did what I did!”
In 1997, journalist Jon Katz wrote an essay titled “Birth of a Digital Nation” in Wired magazine.
During the previous year, Bill Clinton had won the second term of his presidency in what Katz had hoped would be “the first wired election.” Although the internet failed to make a major impact during that cycle, Katz still looked on in amazement at the rise of the internet and wondered just how profoundly it would affect the world as it grew.
One episode that he hoped would be emblematic of the web’s new power was the defeat of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. When the CDA threatened to make “indecent language” a federal crime in order to protect children, the internet community was part of the push back that eventually saw key sections of the law struck down.
“The online world is the freest community in American life,” wrote Katz.
A few years earlier in 1993, Henry Edward Hardy wrote his master’s thesis at Grand Valley State University on the history of the net. In the introduction, he reflected on just what the net was:
The Net represents the growth of a new society within the old. The Net represents a new model of governance. The Net represents a threat to civil liberties. The Net is the greatest free marketplace of ideas that has ever existed. The Net is in imminent danger of extinction. The Net is immortal.
A new culture was spawning from the “primordial digital muck” that would touch every facet of our lives, Katz mused, changing everything from economics to politics to freedom and the evolution of ideas. It seemed antithetical to what he had watched in the 1996 election.
“I couldn’t bear The New York Times pundits, CNN’s politico-sports talk, the whoring Washington talk shows, the network stand-ups,” he wrote. “Why attend to those tired institutions when what was happening on the monitor a foot from my nose seemed so much more interesting?”
For those who have grown up on the web, it’s easy to forget the scale of change that Katz (born in 1947) and others felt they were seeing when they looked to the future of the net. As Jon Katz watched a wave of unknowable size approach, he hoped for a tsunami.
In examining the reasons why the web might change the world, Katz identified what he saw as one of the common threads in the new digital culture: a distinct strain of non-partisan libertarianism. In particular, he noted how that strain was applied to recreational drugs such as pot and ecstasy. He wrote about discussions in mailing lists and newsgroups concluding that the war on drugs was a ludicrous failure and that radical solutions such as legalization were the generally agreed upon way forward.
The internet community’s ingrained disdain for the war on drugs and its affinity for some big libertarian ideas manifested itself in the birth and blossoming of online drug culture and then online drug trade. The digital highway (described in 1997 by Katz as the way information traveled down linked “Web sites, passed on to newsgroups, mailing lists, and computer conferencing systems”) provided an ideal new environment in which the trade could grow freely for some time.
Law enforcement had a relatively minimal presence in many online communities into the 1990s. Even when dealers and manufacturers were arrested and their actions explicitly connected to the internet, the police rarely if ever appreciated the full importance of the roles those online communities were already playing in drug culture.
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.”
After being arrested in July 2012, Australian Silk Road customer Paul Leslie Howard has pleaded guilty to two charges of “importing a marketable quantity of a border-controlled drug – which carries a maximum of 25 years jail – and to trafficking controlled drugs. Howard, who also pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing 32 controlled weapons, was remanded in custody for sentencing next week,” reports The Age.
The defendant said he was turned on to the site by an article written by journalist @EileenOrmsby, who regularly covers the Road on her blog as well as in Australian newspapers and journals. Her October 2012 article Silk Road: The eBay of Illegal Drugs was cited during the trial.
Hey guys , I’m just starting out here. I’m Aus based and only shipping to Aus so as not to roach on anyone’s turf :). I’ll be basically doing dutch speed and peruvian charlie to start and branch into more as I get coin back in my pocket. I source from both sr and non sr vendors but I prefer the sr system as far as selling securely is concerned ! So yeh that’s me story and I’m keen for any tips or just some chat from you guys as I’m still learning !
Silk Road users quickly noted that his prices (for example, $500 for a gram of cocaine) were extremely high but he responded that Australia always has higher prices for these products. Soon, user Om enthusiastically reviewed his DMT:
Well I had shadh1′s DMT on saturday, me and a mate divided it in two and put it in a electronic vaporiser, quite smooth, not harsh or like burning plastic, but also really not a great taste… after the first breath nothing happened, then after the second… WOW.
No break-through the to machine elves land or anything but it was AMAZING. Everything was colour-cycling and pulsing in a way unlike any acid, or even acid+NOS combo, and it was just so euphoric… and yet so short-lived!
You able to get any more shadh1?
Mixed but generally positive reviews of Howard’s product began to pile up. Several users were vocally uncomfortable around Howard, with user itsmagic going so far as to say he was weary because “I have a feeling you don’t know 100% of what goes on around here, and that makes me feel uneasy. For a seller, I would assume they’d be very confident in knowing this whole system very well, and I just don’t feel like you know that. You don’t seem to have that personality of a seller either.”
Despite some general uneasiness about Howard, more and more positive reviews began to accumulate including a novel-length trip report from user cosmic jim. We can spare ourselves the majority of the report but here’s the meat of what Howard’s DMT was capable of according to Jim:
Visions of the horrible, teeth shattering, mind numbing scale of gods infinite fractal nature. I was scared. The primal urge of wanting my mother. A cat in the room was sitting closeby and I prayed for it to look after me until the experience was over. It answered my prayer. As I was laying another cat walked up behind my back purring with warmth. I understood that these experiences are likely induced by other local organized demi-god intelligences possibly for the acceleration of the raising of human consciousness. Surely nothing seems unreasonable at this scale. The horrible scale. After the hourish was up, the dmt body feeling was gone and I felt much better. I went to see my friends again. For the rest of the night I was a beacon of pure joy and compassion.
The following day, Jim woke up, took another pill and proceeded to gain “Christ consciousness” as everyone he spoke to fell in love with him. This was the most outstandingly positive (and just plain outstanding) review Howard would receive on Silk Road. “I was just jesus for a while, ok?”
Howard sold a diverse mixture of drugs from then on and garnered more positive reviews, building a respectable customer base. The last post in Howard’s dedicated thread was a happy review of his heroin. The satisfied customer promised that he’d buy again.
By mid-July, Howard’s home had been raided and Australian police released a triumphant note about the arrest.
“Criminals are attempting to exploit the international mail system through online networks, but the recent arrest demonstrates that we are one step ahead of them,” said Australian Federal Police Manager Crime Operations Peter Sykora.
“Prosecutor Morgan Brown said Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officers in Melbourne and Sydney examined mail articles addressed to Howard at his Brunswick West home”, reported The Age.
Mailing to island nations is a particularly difficult endeavor as their borders are guarded relatively effectively. In fact, an intercepted package is far less daunting to Silk Road than the prospect of governments succesfully monitoring Tor or Bitcoin’s anonymizing services. The general consensus among the Tor community is that the Australian police are not “one step ahead” of Tor or Silk Road. The specifics of exactly how Howard was caught remain unknown.
— Silk Road (@SilkRoadDrugs) February 1, 2013
Whether this is just a general cautionary measure or a reaction to a specific threat remains to be seen.