Developments in Information Technology (IT) have definitely led to unprecedented changes in the way business is conducted over the last two decades.
While the internet has resulted in great improvements in commerce, it has also brought with it some negative aspects.
One key area is the ever growing influence being exerted by online black marketplaces on the so-called dark web.
Darknet sites are well-known to be complacent in real-world crime including vending drugs, weapons, pornography, and counterfeit items.
These and other reasons have forced academics, policy makers, and law enforcement agencies to reassess the effects of IT on societal issues today.
However, it is important to note that darknet vendors do not exclusively deal in explicitly illegal items as most people think. A considerable number of them including AlphaBay also market supposedly legal goods and services.
The typical items on sale on any reputable dark web marketplace include drugs, weapons, stolen personal data such as credit card information, and other non-legit wares sold under the cover of anonymity provided by the numerous online cloaking methods.
A dinner reservation is the last thing you would expect when browsing through AlphaBay.
The elaborately listed reservation included screenshot and a fluent description that gave the prospective buyer a peek into the luxurious experience offered at a 5-star establishment in London known as The Shard.
The reservations which were originally priced at 110 Euros were going for only $50.
In another separate but similarly peculiar listing, another vendor was advertising the sale of Disneyland and Hollywood’s Universal Studios tickets.
Despite the lightly detailed listing, over 20 people have apparently made purchases from the vendor since October 2015.
The string of luxury packages was seemingly endless as another listing advertised a flight and hotel package for the meager price of $500, of which 17 buyers were all too willing to cash in on.
Not many had been aware of this seemingly softer side of the darknet markets, although AlphaBay is a prime example of how the practice has been going on longer than most of us know.
AlphaBay was launched officially on the 22nd of December 2014.
Since then, it has grown steadily to become one of the most popular and largest darknet markets today.
AlphaBay operates on the Tor network and employs Bitcoin as the major currency.
Commenters say that the site’s popularity may be a result of AlphaBay’s up-to-date new features category. AlphaBay is constantly upgrading and diversifying their listings.
Recent online reviews and user data suggests that people are actually taking advantage of these listings.
Going by the publicly posted sales records, it looks like the voucher for the London hotel already found a buyer.
Also included on listings on AlphaBay are a collection of luxury goods including Burberry and other designer handbags, Fitbits and, Seiko watches.
NOT ALWAYS LEGIT
Although some of these items offered on darknet sites like AlphaBay are not often associated with underground markets, internet users should not assume that they were obtained lawfully or are authentic products.
AlphaBay has been known to list stolen credit card information.
As such, it is definitely possible that some of the luxury items featured on the listing were obtained through carding.
Carding is purchasing goods and services through stolen credit cards.
Several vendors on AlphaBay have explicitly indicated that the attraction tickets on the listings were carded.
Therefore, depending on the source of specific vendors, there is no conclusive guarantee that the buyers actually get original luxury items.
Even in the cases where they do, there is still a chance that the items delivered to them are stolen or invalid goods.
For instance, Disneyland got wind of the E-tickets being listed on AlphaBay and implemented extra security measures effectively canceling unauthentic ones.
The exact means by which vendors acquire such items is obviously difficult to ascertain.
The current evidence from forum conversations and anecdotes suggests that they either source from offline dealers or use other darknet markets to buy these goods in bulk.
The vendors then resell it in small more profitable quantities.
The dark web has always been a hot-button issue, and these recent reports of diversification of goods and services will definitely not sit well with those strongly against these corners of the internet.