Availability of COVID-19 related products on Tor darknet markets
The Australian Institute of Criminology has released a new paper on the availability of COVID-19 related products on Tor darknet markets.
- The Australian Institute of Criminology commissioned the Australian National University Cybercrime Observatory to undertake a rapid census of COVID-related medical products and supplies being sold on the darknet as at 3 April 2020.
- There were 645 listings and 222 unique listings for COVID-related products across 12 omnibus darknet markets. Unique listings exclude those listings duplicated within or across markets. 110 active vendors were identified; of these, eight were active in multiple markets. The estimated value of unique product listings was A$369,000.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) was the most commonly listed item, accounting for about half of all unique listings, most often surgical masks, hand sanitizers and gloves. Anti-viral and repurposed medicines were the next most common products, accounting for one third of unique listings, and most often included the malaria treatment Chloroquine and antibiotic Azithromycin.
- Supposed COVID-19 vaccines and antidotes, and COVID tests and diagnostic instruments each made up less than 10 percent of unique listings. One listing for a ventilator and five listings of a COVID-19 Handbook were also identified.
- Darknet market Agartha had the largest market share, accounting for more than two-thirds of all COVID-19 product listings, followed by DarkBay (20%). Three markets accounted for 84 percent of all unique listings identified – Agartha, DarkBay and Empire. A small proportion of vendors accounted for most of the listings and potential profit—17 of the 110 vendors had more than 4 listings each and an overall value greater than A$5000.
- Three listings claimed to be shipped from Australia (less than one percent), while more than sixty-percent of all listings claimed to be shipped from the United States.
- On darknet forums, vendors and buyers are stating that lockdowns are creating delays in the shipping process of all products. Some vendors anticipate halting their operations due to ceasing postal services, while others are informing their customers of a 6 week wait for packages that usually take 10 days.
The paper is available for free download on the AIC website: https://aic.gov.au/publications/sb/sb24