Dark web vendors are well known to employ various cunning tactics that will see the potential customer fall victim to fraud without being able to predict such from happening. Among the ubiquitous methods used is requesting the customer to reach out to them via messaging apps such as ICQ , Jabber or Wickr, which operate on computers and smartphones.
Dark Web Fraud
It is well known that ICQ and Jabber are avenues for fake vendors to scam unsuspecting persons by claiming they can offer specific services. Of course, the opposite is true—they do not even have the capacity to do this.
In most cases, the tactic is used on first-timers who are unaware that this type of fraud is often a way of introducing them into the sector. The saying “once bitten, twice shy” is very much applicable in this scenario since an individual will tend to do things with more caution after getting scammed.
Dark Web News has found that Dream Market, which has grown to be the biggest darknet market after the fall of AlphaBay and Hansa, is having vendors who request the customer to contact them privately.
While enquiring about the services offered, a vendor going by the name “PEPPERSTELEPHON” responded by telling DWN to contact him via ICQ or Wickr. And as such, one would wonder why would he/she will not negotiate directly through the site but instead opt to use other platforms where the site cannot help the buyer recover funds.
There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that the vendor is actually a scammer using Dream Market to lure unsuspecting persons into the trap of making offline payments only to witness the vendor go silent after the transfer is complete.
Another reason, though unlikely, is that the seller might be avoiding the use of the site (in this case, Dream Market) due to inconveniences, such as funds going to an escrow account until the buyer marks the payments as delivered. In some cases, the buyer may file a dispute and give the seller a nasty review, which translates to difficulties in getting new clients.
Business is all about reputation, which is attained from good services, and without this aspect then a company is bound to fail. As such, it is justified that vendors state in their listings that they don’t want a person to leave a negative review in the event something isn’t right. They prefer if the customer sends them a message and awaits a response to have the matter sorted.
Apart from bad reviews and escrow clearance, another issue that does not go down well with darknet market sellers is the fact that some of the sites charge a cost for one to become a vendor. More so, the commission taken by the site from a sale is quite high leaving the seller with little profits from a given transaction.
Depending on the nature of the situation, the reasons provided will lead the seller to want to communicate directly with the buyer.
Now, the point at which a buyer and seller begin to have off-site negotiations raises the possibility of fraud since no escrow is involved and the site admins cannot check the threads of a conversation to make a judgment about a case.
This therefore puts both the buyer and seller at risk but in most cases, the one purchasing the goods/services is often on the losing end. By contrast, sellers tend to be more skilled and experienced, and thus know how to convince people to contact them and facilitate offline payments.
But of course, sellers too can get scammed by buyers. This occurs in rare situations, especially where the two parties have transacted with each other dozens of times to the point where the seller offers the buyer their products/services on debt. Eventually, in many cases, it gets to the point where the buyer cannot pay and they disappear with the funds without a trace.
For this reason, the buyer should decline any request for offline payments in a message that is short, simple and straightforward. They should also suggest using the official Dream Market site for paying for the goods or services they intend to acquire.
If the seller declines by bringing up excuses that make no sense whatsoever, then that is enough evidence that they have been perpetuating the scamming vice for some time now and they are looking for new prey.
As things stand, there are dozens of ICQ and Jabber groups that are used by fake vendors to lure unsuspecting Dream Market users so they scam them. Surprisingly, these groups are very active and get posts from various members on a frequent basis.
Apart from the sale of credit cards, services that are majorly posted in these groups include PayPal and Western Union transfers among others. In fact, money transfer scams are extremely common as it is human nature to want to make quick cash without considering the famous saying: “When the deal is too good, think twice.”
When a Dream Market buyer who has never dealt with the supposed seller facilitates a payment via the messaging apps mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is most definitely a guaranteed scam. The mode of operation is simple: Once funds are sent, the other person will either go silent, change their contacts or block the one who sent the funds. And, unfortunately for the buyer, there is nothing that can be done about that because these folks have multiple accounts they use for scam purposes.
It remains the responsibility of an individual to ensure they follow precautionary steps and undertake the necessary research so that they can avoid getting scammed, since fraudsters are lurking everywhere and will seize any available opportunity to defraud someone.