The dark web is not only about drugs and hidden markets, it is also a scammers paradise!
Without any doubt the anonymity of the dark web and its adopted currency bitcoin, plays very much in the hand of scammers. It’s like a labyrinth, you go left and get scammed, you go right and get scammed, the way ahead might be a rocky road as well. So who will guide you through this labyrinth? Unfortunately, there is no ultimate guide. And whoever is telling you there is – is surely a scammer himself.
The entry point for new dark web users are very often the numerous so called Hidden Wiki directories. As wiki websites on the clearnet, users collaboratively modify content directly from the web browser.
The one we consider as the original one can be found here: http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion. It is simply called Hidden Wiki and the content is displayed as neutral as it can be, they do not verify or mark services. Despite the disclaimer stating, “we’re asking our users to not link to websites with illegal content on them,” you’ll find everything from counterfeit banknotes, stolen credit card data, weapons, to faked passports and of course drugs, plenty of drugs.
Now, let’s have a look at one of the alternatives. It’s called the ‘The Uncensored Hidden Wiki (TUHW)‘ and one of the differences between the Hidden Wiki is their stance on censorship:
“This site is a free-speech wiki. Our policy regarding censorship is simple, nothing gets removed without the consent of the author. The only exceptions to this rule are spam and child abuse imagery. Any takedown requests will be ignored, and possibly published.”
Which is a good one, since jealous competitors cannot simply remove any listing.
Another feature we’d like is the verification or marking of services in their directory. If a service is marked as ‘Likely Scam’ or ‘Caution’, a reference is added in most cases, explaining why this site is likely scam or why you should be cautious. In addition it is shown throughout their directories, if a listed site is up (online) or down (offline).
The Uncensored Hidden Wiki is the most complete directory of Tor services we found. Besides you’ll find information on topics like security, privacy, computer network security and much more. A trusted escrow service is on offer as well.
In our opinion they call themselves rightfully “The front page of the deep web!”
Finally we have a look at another Uncensored Hidden Wiki (TUHW), a scam Hidden Wiki. Copying the design of the Hidden Wiki in general, but as you can see on top of the page calling themselves ‘The Uncensored Hidden Wiki’. Stay away from this one as far as you can, please! Note that they offer TUHW Escrow services as well – try them out, in case you really want to waste your bitcoins.
Among their ‘Verified’ listings we found this one:
Wow, that’s a great one! We can all become millionaires in a fortnight and since the (faked) ‘Uncensored Hidden Wiki’ marked them as verified, or legitimate in other words, they must be the real thing.
We took a moment to check the transaction history on the x100BTC website and can confirm that all transactions are indeed, not real, but on the blockchain. Since x100BTC gives you only a deposit address, but don’t ask for a withdrawal address (to send you your fortune after 24 hours), we have to assume that they will transfer your ‘earnings’ back to the originating bitcoin address. That means we should find outgoing and incoming corresponding transactions on a certain bitcoin address. However, that is not the case.
As we can see here, on the 25th of May, 386.26259066 BTC were transferred to address 19HKopn9A6JYVKytoRDL2yr97Jg5idjRip and only hours later transferred out of this address. That are the only two transactions recorded with this address. Never any 3.862626 BTC transaction from this address to x100BTC took place.
We have checked the x100BTC deposit address for about two weeks now. It’s always showing the same static bitcoin address: 16BmmLUtG9gVu6T2w4a3CawiHbQinFnbSy. According to blockchain.info this address was first used on the 15th of January and since received only 2.1640971 BTC. So x100BTC is not only a dumb scammer, but a unsuccessful one as well.
Still we wanted to find our why the (faked) ‘Uncensored Hidden Wiki’ marked this scam service as a verified one.
Since this ‘Uncensored Hidden Wiki’ does not allow the dark web community to add or rate pages, we’ve contacted the administration and asked about listing. Here is their answer:
And here we go, you can pay for a verified listing, if you have the cash. We have replied to the admin a week ago and asked what “providing a solid proof/vouch” means, but haven’t received an answer as of today.
Remember the number one rule on Tor: Think of it this way, just like how in most democracies where you are considered innocent until proven guilty, all sites on Tor should be considered scam until proven valid.
Use common sense before parting with your bitcoins. Look for vendors with a top reputation, don’t accept FE (Finalise Early), instead insist on escrow only. If buying outside the dark web markets, ask the vendor to use a trusted clearnet escrow service, since often scammers operate their own bogus .onion escrow service which offers no protection at all.