The number of Dark Web financial marketplaces where Dark Web users and sellers actively trade illegal goods and services anonymously has been growing exponentially in recent years. The Dark Web has expanded illegal activities via selling various illicit products, from hacked credit cards to stolen crypto accounts. This study aims to delineate the characteristics of the Dark Web financial market and its scams. Data were derived from leading Dark Web financial websites, including Hidden Wiki, Onion List, and Dark Web Wiki, using Dark Web search engines. The study combines statistical analysis with thematic analysis of Dark Web content. Offering promotions and customer services with the payment methods of cryptocurrencies were prevalent, similar to the Surface Web's e-commerce market. The findings suggest that the Dark Web financial market is likely to harbor scams targeting Dark Web buyers. Dark Web sellers construct a website to sell scam products and recommend purchasing Escrow services to ensure safe transactions as an additional scam. The results from this study provided empirical support for the components of the routine activity theory of the Dark Web financial market to substantiate a more comprehensive view of patterns of fraud/ scams. Enhancing law enforcement capabilities of investigating financial marketplaces and promoting public awareness and consumer safety programs are discussed as effective preventive measures.
Jung, B. R. , Choi, K. & Lee, C. S. (2022). Dynamics of Dark Web Financial Marketplaces: An Exploratory Study of Underground Fraud and Scam Business. International Journal of Cybersecurity Intelligence & Cybercrime: 5(2), 4-24. Available at: https://doi.org/10.52306/XMHN2624 Copyright © 2022 Bo Ra Jung, Kyung-Shick Choi, and Claire Seungeun Lee