Gangs & Organized Crime
10 Shocking Ways Criminals Get Rich On The Dark Web

In the darker corners of the internet, people are selling things that are far more interesting than cut-price bags of weed on the “dark web”. One rule online is: if it will make someone money, you can buy it on the internet. And if it will make someone money without necessarily being entirely legal, you can buy it on the dark web.

From get-rich-quick schemes to criminals willing to work for hire, there are a host of goods and services available for purchase on the deep web. Even setting aside the wunderkammer of narcotics and psychedelics that greet you as you log on to one of the dark web marketplaces, the now-defunct Silk Road and its still-living counterparts offer a breathtaking array of deeply illegal (and deeply ingenious) ways to spend your Bitcoin.

10. Cut-Price Supermarket Vouchers

On the dark web cunning forgers produce high-denomination supermarket vouchers that are allegedly indistinguishable from the real thing, and sell them through dark net markets at a fraction of their face value. (Stolen Netflix and Uber accounts are amongst the other goodies on offer).

In May 2015, the FBI indicted 30-year old Beauregard Wattigney, a Louisiana-based IT technician, on charges of trademark counterfeiting on the Dark Web marketplaces Silk Road and Silk Road 2. Wattigney was considered the online coupon kingpin known as ThePurpleLotus or TheGoldenLotus, he sold packages costing $25 in bitcoin, but offered hundreds of dollars in fraudulent coupons.

9. Theft-On-Demand

We live in a rapidly-evolving economy, where tourists now dash off an AirBnB search to find a bed for the night, and travellers can send a quick Uber request to hop across cities with ease. Why, then, should you go to the tedious effort of exchanging money for a luxury car or a new flat-screen TV, when you can simply get some guy off the internet to steal you one in exchange for a fraction of the price.

There are people across Europe and North America who claim they will steal you pretty much anything smaller than a literal building for the right cut of its total value.

8. Counterfeit Money

One well-known dark web currency vendor was Ryan Andrew Gustafson a.k.a Willy.Clock. He was arrested by the FBI in Uganda in 2014. He had become well known for his “high quality” notes and had a team of resellers working on the dark web markets for him. U.S. Secret Service estimates $1.8 million in counterfeit notes have been seized to date in Uganda.

Sentencing by U.S. law is usually 25 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both, based on the seriousness of the offence and the individuals criminal history.

7. Another Identity

You can get fake IDs, of course, but a bit more cash will get you a whole lot more.

The top-end bundles come with everything you would need to start a new life in another country that can be printed on paper and sent through the post. Social security numbers, birth certificates, entry to the British passport database: the dark web offers every conceivable option to the jet-setting modern individual trying to start a new life in a hurry.

6. Another Face

Sometimes, a top-end fake passport simply isn’t enough. Sometimes, you need to replace your face. Luckily, the dark web can help. One enterprising vendor will sell you a silicon mask which is indistinguishable (at a quick glance) from the real thing.

No-one’s saying it will enable you to hold down a job or raise a family without your colleagues, wife and kids suspecting that your face is made of latex, but these eerily lifelike disguises would undeniably enable you to obscure your face without raising an immediate alarm. Just don’t rely on one to see you through a first date.

5. Twitter Followers

You might not have any friends, but you do have an internet connection. And if you log on to a dark net market, within a few short key strokes you can be the proud owner of a tonne of shiny new Twitter followers. A thousand, ten thousand, fifty thousand or more; the only upper limit, really, is how many you can think you can get away with before your real friends twig that you’ve suddenly got more followers than Taylor Swift. 

4. Weapons

One-time dark net market leader Agora took the unusual step earlier this year of taking down all listings for firearms on its website. This was not because the site’s laissez-faire admins had suddenly become bleeding-heart pacifists, but because so many weapons listings were fronts for FBI sting operations.

However, elsewhere on the dark web there is a complete arsenal of hardware. There are handguns and rifles, of course, but there’s also a range of more left-field options: on sites like Armory criminals sell a lurid selection of samurai swords, knuckle dusters and bootleg Tasers.

3. Hacking Services

Unsurprisingly, the dark net offers as many ways to take down someone’s laptop as it does to put a bullet between their eyes. You can get into someone’s Netflix account for just a dollar or two and access to a Gmail or a social media account won’t set you back a whole lot more.

At the pricier end of the market, black-hat hackers will take down websites, launch off malware and steal data and money. As with many of the other illicit services listed here, you can also buy e-book DIY guides to hacking: it’s still very much illegal, but it’s probably a little less risky than one of the meth cookbooks, bomb-making pamphlets or purportedly satanic grimoires which litter the shelves of the uncensored library of the dark net.

2. Match Fixing

This is another money-spinner which is as likely to be a scam as a real-world opportunity for illegal investors to turn a quick profit. The line which the match-fixers take is that they will give you back a dollar fifty for every dollar you send to them, by placing large-scale bets on matches whose outcomes are predetermined by payments made to crooked sportsmen.

But two factors might give would-be investors pause for thought. Firstly, to protect their interests then no information is available about which matches are the subject of the bets. And secondly, you’ll struggle to find a minimum buy-in of less than $20,000. Sometimes, the deep web is nothing without deep pockets.

1. A Hit Man

It remains unclear how many of the dark net hitmen offering to take out a nemesis of choice are actual trained professionals. Maybe it’s all of them. But what we do know is that one-time Silk Road head honcho Dread Pirate Roberts (né Ross Ulbricht) paid two dark web contract killers to take out a rival.

Whether it happened or not, Roberts certainly believed that there were people out there willing to kill for Bitcoin. And who would know better than him?

 Here at we strive to bring you the most shocking and interesting crime facts. Notice something not quite right or inaccurate? Get in touch in the comments below and we’ll be happy to investigate…




About the author

Matt Broomfield is a writer, journalist and poet with a particular interest in social justice, subcultures and marginal voices. He is currently studying an MA in Newspaper Journalism at City University, reporting for the Independent and freelancing for a range of other publications. He loves both crime and viral content. Read more of his work here, contact him on, and follow him on Twitter @hashtagbroom.

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