Expert stats indicate that the raging COVID-19 pandemic has not only wrecked the stock market, but hurt the dark web economy too. The numbers show that darknet marketplaces have not been spared the worldwide uncertainty that has sent entire industries crashing.
In the context of cryptocurrency spending, the internet underworld has witness a 33% decline in the volume of digital assets sent to various addresses. Considering the fact that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have become the preferred mode of payment within dark web corridors, there is no telling about the amount of damage that the hidden web ecosystem has sustained in the current public health crisis.
Expectedly, cybercriminals have exhibited varied responses to the pandemic-induced darknet market crisis. To adjust, some of the existing darknet marketplaces have shown normalcy as far as their product listings are concerned.
Otherwise significant number of the platforms have sunk to serious levels of amorality. Basically exploiting the fear and uncertainty plaguing the population through targeted advertising and fraud schemes.
A webinar organized by Chainalysis on April 15, which focused on effects of the coronavirus pandemic on cryptocurrency crime, revealed that criminals have put “coronavirus-infected blood” for sale on the dark web.
In a specific case, a dark web vendor has claimed to be selling coronavirus-infected blood that has been injected into bats. The same vendor claims that the blood was drawn from his parent who was a hospitalized COVID-19 patient.
The “blood for sale” is being sold for 0.005 BTC per bat. At this point, it is very difficult to figure out whether the vendor is truly selling coronavirus-infected blood, or this advertisement joins the other host of scams that have erupted with the intention of reaping oblivious victims of their cryptocurrency.
Other Coronavirus-Related Listings
Elsewhere, an ad on Own Shop, a darknet marketplace, purports that the vendor is a COVID-19 patient who has put up his blood and saliva for sale which, theoretically may be used by health experts to treat coronavirus patients. The advertisement, which is most likely among the many COVID-related scams in the dark web, is asking for $1000.
Other products that have been put up for sale so far include COVID-19 test kits, diagnostic tools and even fake coronavirus vaccines.
In the cybercriminal space, hackers, scammers and state-sponsored groups have moved in to take advantage of the current crisis to use infodemic patterns to attack government machinery and lure people into losing their finances – including the forfeiture of sensitive personal data and purchase of fake products.
On the other hand, a number of dark web platform admins have been enforcing dignity within their marketplaces. This aspect comes true in the face of directives provided by some of the darknet operators to ban the sale of purported COVID-19 remedies.
A good example can be drawn from Monopoly Market in which the platform’s admin banned vendors from advertising fake coronavirus vaccines to be sold for Bitcoin. This move comes as a sharp contrast to some of the dark web marketplaces that have not stopped the promotion of these medications.
Additionally, the operator for DoppelPaymer ransomware has announced that their decision to halt malicious attacks against health institutions during this pandemic. This interesting piece of news reflects a rather unusual dynamic considering the fact that hospitals have always been ideal targets for ransomware groups.
To conclude, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cryptocurrency crime cannot be predicted in the long term given the current circumstances. In the meantime, the dark web and crypto industry will continue to adjust to ramifications of the current coronavirus crisis in a “one day at a time” fashion.