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Criminals gearing up for Black Friday with deals on illegal goods

Vendors on the dark web use the same selling techniques as legitimate businesses, experts say.

Experts say criminals on the dark web are using similar selling techniques to legitimate traders (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Experts say criminals on the dark web are using similar selling techniques to legitimate traders (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Margaret Davis, PA Crime Correspondent

Criminals on the dark web are gearing up for Black Friday, with special offers on illegal drugs, fake identity documents and stolen data.

Experts say gangs are offering cut prices on the secretive sites, mirroring commercial tactics used by legitimate businesses.

Stolen personal data and credit cards, fake identification documents and illegal drugs are all offered for sale on dark web marketplaces that are designed to be untraceable.

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Vendors selling illegal goods on the dark web are offering Black Friday deals (Digital Shadows/PA)

Co-founder of security firm Digital Shadows, James Chappell, said: “Society has become more digital, and along with that, so has crime.

“Despite their activities being unlawful and illegal, criminals are retail enterprises in a sense, and they’re looking to maximise the opportunities.

“People who buy products and services from criminals are also consumers in their own right, they’re familiar with concepts such as Black Friday.

“We’ve seen the same strategies that online retailers and physical retailers use, being used in these criminal markets.

“We see them used either to provide discounts, ‘stack ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap’ type strategies, and we’ve seen the same with discount codes, introductions, building up excitement before the event, adverts that entice and enthuse.”

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Vendors on the dark web are apparently offering Black Friday deals on illegal drugs (Margaret Davis/PA)

A report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, published earlier this week, found that criminals in the UK make more from selling illegal drugs online than anywhere else in Europe.

Its report found that sales worth £24 million had been made in 2017/18.

Mr Chappell warned that while the dark web can be used legitimately by those who want increased privacy, those who use it must take care.

There have been several so-called exit scams where users have paid for goods but a site has suddenly closed down and they have lost their money.

He said: “If you are going to interact on those networks you need to be conscious about what you’re downloading, what information you’re giving over, just like you would anywhere.

“And just like real life, don’t do crime. The long arm of the law is active online and it’s not a good idea to go around committing crimes on the internet just like it’s not a very good idea to go around committing crimes on your local high street.

“Some people have this notion that by using some of the technologies they become impervious to the long arm of the law, and that’s just simply not the case.”

Last month National Crime Agency director of investigations Nikki Holland told the PA news agency last month that she would like to invest heavily in tackling drug dealers who operate on the dark web.

She said: “From an agency perspective I would invest a lot more in activities and specialist capabilities around the dark web and some of the covert stuff that we do.

“My job is to make sure that we in the NCA go upstream internationally to choke the drugs supply and the firearms supply from coming into the UK in the first place.”

PA

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