Cryptocurrencies accounted for Rand 26 billion

Cryptocurrencies accounted for $ 1.8 billion (R26.4 billion) in drug money revenue in 2021, according to research by Times without bank.

This, it is said, represents 85% of the total revenue generated in these “darknet markets”.

the it is a part of the internet where communications and transactions can be done anonymously and is often used by criminals (although it is also used by activists, whistleblowers, journalists and news outlets for secure communications).

About 15% of the darknet’s revenue – equivalent to $ 300 million (R4.4 billion) – was generated by so-called fraud shops, which include the sale of stolen logins, credit cards, among others.

Revenue for darknet traders could be higher, the study says.

Reports indicate that additional revenue of $ 112 million (R1.65 billion) was generated from direct buyer-to-seller sales, without going through darknet markets.


Banklesstimes says there have been several darknet market closures in 2021 and that by the end of the year there were five fewer fraud shops and 13 fewer drug markets.

“We should also note that drug markets have been in decline for the past five years. The number of active users fell from around 1.7 million in 2016 to 1.2 million in 2021.

The number of transfers also decreased from 11.7 million to 3.7 million “.

Despite a decline in the number of users and illegal markets, revenue from crime-focused sales has actually increased.

“Users in drug-centric markets are now making larger payments for every transaction. Over the same period, the average transaction size increased by more than 208%, from $ 160 in 2016 [R2 358] for $ 493 [R7 266] value of cryptocurrencies in 2021, “says the report.

In 2021, direct transactions contributed about 5% to the total revenue of the darknet market, which has been steadily increasing over the past three years.

“Typically, these direct relationships begin on darknet markets, but then move on to off-market transactions after sufficient trust has been established between the trading parties.

Total revenue from such transactions in 2021 was $ 112 million [R1.65 billion].

“On average, a typical buyer sent $ 8,331 [R122 800] cryptocurrency value to their supplier during the year. “

Dark web markets

Hydra’s revenue in 2021 accounted for about 80% of the entire darknet market’s revenue, according to the United States Department of Justice (DoJ).

Other darknet markets include DarkMarket, ByPass Shop, and Flugsvamp Market.

A joint effort of law enforcement by the DoJ and the German authorities resulted in the seizure and closure of the Hydra market on April 5 this year.

The DoJ also filed criminal charges against one of the alleged market players.

“The Hydra darknet site provided a platform for criminals who thought they were beyond the reach of law enforcement to buy and sell illegal drugs and services,” said Jim Lee of the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation agency. of the United States in a DoJ statements.

“Our cybercrime unit has once again used their cryptocurrency tracking expertise to help destroy this site and identify the criminal behind it.

“Denying criminals a space to operate freely to conduct their nefarious activities is the first step in stopping this activity altogether.”

“The successful hijacking of Hydra, the world’s largest darknet market, dismantled the digital infrastructure that had enabled a wide range of criminals, including Russian cybercriminals, cryptocurrency bureaucrats and the money launderers who support them and others, and drug traffickers, ”FBI Director Christopher Wray said.

Hydra’s suppliers have offered fake identification documents, allowing users to search for the type of identification they want, such as US passports or driver’s licenses.

Many suppliers offer fake identification documents using photographs or other information provided by buyers.

Hacking tools and services are also available through Hydra. “Hacking providers commonly offer to illegally access buyer’s chosen online accounts.

In this way, buyers could select their victims and hire professional hackers to access victim communications and detect victims’ accounts, ”according to the DoJ.

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